Category Archives: I’ve Learned

The Smartest 15 Ways to Deal With Difficult People

Anyone who has spent some time working in a customer service field knows just how quickly things can turn ugly. Learning to deal with difficult people it a valuable life lesson learned.

Usually, it starts simply. Something might not have been ready on time. The product purchased might have failed. It might just be a bad day for the customer.

Bosses and managers may be poor leaders, or maybe a family member or spouse might become enraged.

Is there anything you can do to stop a bad situation from spiraling out of control? Of course there is. Here are 15 steps you can take to deal with difficult people.

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post also contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission or referral fee, at no extra cost for you.

 

15 Solutions to Deal With Difficult People

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

1. Keep a Level Head

One of the funniest things in Douglas Adam’s, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was that on the front the of the guide in huge letters were the words, “Don’t Panic.”

In the book, these words are ironic, especially in the beginning of the book when Arthur Dent is about to be flushed out an airlock into space.

But, there is value in these words when you have to deal with difficult people.

Stop for a second to take a deep breath. Take another one if you need to. Then make a conscious effort to remain calm.

This is the foundation of diffusing a tense situation.

When disciplining children, parents are often advised to count to 10 before doing or saying anything. That’s sound advice for any difficult situation.

2. Open Your Ears

The next best thing to do to deal with difficult people is to try to discern what they are upset about. It may be a challenge not to jump into fix-it mode, but it’s better to figure out exactly what the problem is before you try to fix it.

Each individual needs to feel like someone hears them. Acknowledge how they feel and give them validation by listening to what is bothering them. Give them ample opportunity to fully explain their issue without interrupting them.

Pay attention to what they say. Your mind will be tempted to start formulating what you should say next. It’s better to concentrate fully on what the other person is saying and then try to think of a solution.

3. Apologize

In most cases, you won’t have done anything wrong. That’s not the point right now.

Start by saying, “I’m sorry.” Those two small words can often go a long way to calming someone down.

Tell them that you intend to try to remedy the situation. Now that they feel like you have heard them and that you want to help, cooler heads should prevail.

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

4. Go With Your Gut

Not all situations can be defused. If your fight-or-flight reflex starts to kick in, do what you must to guarantee your safety. Determine the best method of leaving the immediate area.

For many years, I worked in management. It was an area that I both loved and hated. Hiring and training employees was usually great. Correctly or terminating them was another matter entirely.

One man specifically sticks out in my mind. Before we met with him, upper management had met to determine the best way to handle his dismissal. We knew his personality type and that the situation could escalate quickly.

Unfortunately, we were not wrong. In fact, things got so bad so fast that I had no choice but to call the police. To this day I believe that if I hadn’t, someone would have been harmed.

Protect yourself first and foremost, and flee if you have to.

5. Establish a Boundary

It’s not an entirely accurate statement to say, “the customer is always right.” Every business does what it can to provide the highest customer satisfaction, but there are things you shouldn’t put up with in the process.

“Adult language” is very common today. Many people use it without thinking about it. However, when those words start to come out as a barrage against you, it’s okay to draw a line in the sand.

In my last position, I handled all serious customer complaints. Many times a customer would have gone through one or two employees before I was given the problem to handle.

Understandably, customers were often irate at that point. Even so, I made sure to set a standard early in my conversation.


I was impervious to a few “adult” words flying my way, but when the narrative became vicious or the words especially derogative, I would give people a choice.

“Please do not speak that way,” I would tell them. If it was a telephone call, I would warn them three times that failing to calm down would force me to end the call. If the call didn’t improve, I hung up, sometimes several times on the same person.

In a family, it’s not uncommon to completely let your guard down. Sadly, that sometimes means that you might say something to your spouse or children that you would never say to anyone else.

There’s no reason you can’t establish boundaries in the family. Tell your family member that you will have to end the conversation until they can talk in a calmer manner.

6. Be Respectful and Polite

When trying to deal with difficult people, you may be lambasted with a tirade of hurtful words. Even though you may be smarting from the sting of the words, do your best not to respond in kind.

If you let your feelings turn to anger and your words to weapons, the matter will only get worse.

Strive to do your best to use respectful words like sir, ma’am, please and thank you. It may require some strenuous effort, but by remaining calm and respectful, you may just guilt the other person into acting better.

How To Be The Good You Want to See

7. Validate Their Feelings

Even if you do not understand, it’s usually good to say that you do. Or, if it’s obvious that you don’t understand, say something like, “Please tell me more so I can better understand.”

Showing them that what they are saying matters to you will give them some validation. If you show that you are sincerely interested in fixing the problem, the other person will feel more like they are on common ground with you. The need to be difficult should improve.

8. Seek Help if Needed

One thing that often made me livid was when a man would rant to one of my female employees and treat them like nothing, but completely change when I or another male member of management appeared. This well illustrates how another person can often change the conversation dynamic.

Be alert to get help if you need to.

With my employees, we had innocuous words that could be used in a sentence or quickly sent by text message that alerted the other staff that someone needed help. When we heard that word, one or more of us would go to stand with the colleague in need.

An angry individual may have no problem with yelling at one person but may take a step back when a second person appears.

In a work environment, try to flag the eye of a fellow employee or reasonable manager if needed.

There’s often safety in numbers, so don’t hesitate to seek help when you must deal with difficult people.

9. Try Not To Be Defensive

A difficult person may do their best to make you believe that it is your fault that they are so upset. Your natural tendency might be to jump to your own defense.

Frequently, it’s best to let yourself be wronged. Keep your voice steady and at a low, normal volume so as to portray the sense that you are not riled.

Yes, very likely you will be riled. In fact, you might be hopping mad. But this probably isn’t the right time to release the pressure valve.

Keep in mind, at this specific moment, it’s not your feelings that are most important. If you can calm the situation, then later you can rationally discuss the points that you know were unfair or untrue.

Words Do Real Damage – 3 Questions to Ask Before Speaking

10. Control Anger and Body Language

Again, when you deal with difficult people, it’s perfectly natural to feel angry. Do your best to control that anger.

In addition, purposely control your body language.

Pointing a finger at them or crossing your arms may add fuel to the fire. A pointed finger can be taken as a challenge or aggression. Crossed arms may signal that you have closed yourself off to helping the problem customer.

Hold your hands in front of you or let them hang loosely at your sides. Gesture if needed in the conversation, but make sure any gestures are not aggressive or accusatory.

11. Stay Versatile

Just as no two people are exactly alike, no two situations are either. Look for clues as to what the person feels would be the right solution.

In the retail world, customers are often looking for a refund or replacement of a product. However, some unscrupulous individuals may be looking for a business to claim liability or give them just cause to file a lawsuit.

Again, go with your gut in this area. Quite often, the less-is-more approach is the way to go. Say as little as possible until you have some idea what solution they might be looking to achieve.

12. Discern What’s Not Being Said

Many psychologists will tell you that anger is always a secondary emotion. What that means is that often there is another emotion that triggered the anger. This is frequently true when you have to deal with difficult people.

In a marriage, this is often hurt feelings. The verbal barrage you are getting right now may have nothing to do with the subject that is being discussed.

What?

Bear with me a moment.

Imagine for a moment that a wife explodes because a husband is late coming home for dinner or that he forgot to carry the trash to the curb. Is that really what she’s upset about? Or is this something else that hurt her prior to this?

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

Personal experience time.

My wife and I, believe it or not, rarely fought. However, one afternoon, and completely out of the blue, she yelled at me, and not just a little bit either.

Now, I know you didn’t know my wife, but she was never a yeller. That was always my job if yelling needed to be done.

I don’t remember the exact words she yelled at me. It seems like it had something to do with leaving a dish on the counter or in the sink.

What I do clearly remember is that it had nothing to do with why she was really upset. It turned out, a few nights earlier I had said something insensitive and hurtful when we were out to dinner with friends.

The comment had meant nothing to me at the time and quickly left my mind, but my dear wife had let it fester in her mind for days until some small thing I had done was enough to break the proverbial camel’s back.

See if you can determine what is really bothering the individual you are having to deal with. Again, this is where active listening comes into play.

13. Don’t Be Demanding

Continue to fight natural impulses if you want to be truly successful. As a situation deteriorates, you may be inclined to say things like, “Shut up!” or “Calm down already.”

Hello, match meet flame. Not good.

Instead, inquire more about what is bothering them. Do they feel like they have been mistreated? Have they been offended in some way?

We all have the need to vent from time to time. Usually, once we are done venting, we no longer feel as upset as we were.

If it feels like a safe option, give the other person a safe space to vent a little.

14. Maintain Personal Space

If emotions are already frayed, it may not take much to make matters worse. Natural impulses may move you to want to touch their arm or shoulder to calm them down. This well-intentioned, empathetic action can be perceived as aggression.

Going back for a moment to the man I had to help fire, shortly before I had to call the police, the business owner made a crucial mistake.

Incorrectly imagining that he could do something to calm the irate employee, my boss reached out and touched his arm.

To say things exploded from there is probably an understatement. In fact, it was like someone flipped a switch and the man being fired lost all control as to his speech or actions. He screamed and flailed his arms and even rolled around on the floor a couple times. It was unbelievable.

So, when you need to deal with difficult people, give them plenty of personal space.


15. Recognize That the Person and Problem Are Different

As you learn to deal with difficult people, it’s important to remind yourself that the person and the problem are not the same.

Some of the worst customers I had to deal with over the years pointed out serious flaws in the business I worked for or the staff that needed to be corrected.

Even though the person you are facing might be acting impossible, the thing they are upset about may be a legitimate problem that needs to be addressed. Look at the situation objectively regardless of how the person is acting.

Strive To Be Better

No doubt, some of the methods in this article to deal with difficult people might be unnatural the first time or two you try to put them into practice. Don’t let that stop you. Just because something feels comfortable doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be done.

The fired employee that was clearly very comfortable with screaming and cussing was certainly in the wrong. However, those were things that he seemed to be perfectly comfortable with.

Give yourself time to improve and keep working on it even if your first few attempts are far from successful. Changing the world takes one person at the time and constant effort, so be sure to keep going.

Please share these helpful tips on Pinterest or other social media.

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHackWhether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHackWhether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHackWhether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

 

Why You Should Drop Back And Punt

Lesson 15: I’ve Learned that sometimes you sprint for the goal line, and sometimes you fall back and punt.

If you know me at all, you are probably a little surprised that this I’ve Learned installment is starting with a sports metaphor. It’s not that I don’t like sports. Watching football with a group of friends is always a blast.

When I am at home alone, though, sports seldom get much airtime. It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching the games. Instead, I think the game loses some of the thrill without an audience to share it with.

But this is not a post about sports.

No, I’ve come to a realization this month. Lately, it seems like I am having them all the time.

 

Why you should sometimes drop back and punt.

April Was Dismal

To be honest, I’ve been a little depressed most of the month. It takes a lot to get me down, but seeing my low blog numbers for April as I passed my six month anniversary – it was more than a little disheartening.

I have no intention of quitting. However, May has been largely a wash. There haven’t been as many posts as I had planned, and social media has not gotten the attention it deserves.

Something clicked yesterday while I was putting some new flowers in a bare spot in one of my front flower beds. It’s an unusually dry area and the soil is poor. The best thing I could do is dig all the soil out and replace it with good soil and be more conscious of watering frequently.

I was at the garden store earlier in the day. There into my view came an Ice Plant. Perhaps I’ve seen the plant before, but the name was not familiar. Removing the plant tag, I read how the plant loves direct sun and dry, sandy soil. Instead of replacing the soil, perhaps there is a plant that will thrive in what I already have.

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 6

So, I purchased and planted the Ice Plant. In the future I will try to comment on its progress.

That silly little plant got me thinking about my blog. I do my best thinking in the yard and probably that’s why I like to be out there so much. Anyway, it dawned on me, April was a bad month, but that hardly means I should scrap anything.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of stopping this blog. But, I have been neglecting it most of the month.

So, That Didn’t Work

This will probably sound very egomaniacal, but please bear with me. I started this blog for me and to share me, Wolfe Butler, with the world. I felt like I had some things to say that maybe someone else would enjoy or benefit from reading.

Then I fell into a bit of a trap. I started reading other blogger’s success stories, big income reports and “expert’s advice.” Imperceptably, I became obsessed with SEO, catchy titles and appropriate blog lengths.

I’m not saying those things are not important. They certainly are, and especially if you hope to make a real income from your blog.

I didn’t start a blog to make an income. If that happens, wonderful, but it was never my purpose.

 

Review: Beginner Internet Marketing Series by Gundi Gabrielle

Sprinting in the Wrong Direction?

Without realizing it, I had started sprinting for the money goal line. The end result started to blind me to everything else. I lost much of my joy in the process.

I can’t help but think that is at least part of why my traffic dropped off.

The readers I had were likely not interested in which title was the most captivating or which post had the best keywords. They were coming around because they were interested in what I had to say. They were interested in me.

With blinders on, I lost some of me – what readers were responding to in the first place.

The View Is Different Back Here

One of the best things that happens when you step back is that your view changes. Up close, I’ve been obsessing about that barren dry spot in my flower garden. However, when I walk back to the road, that spot is barely noticeable because the rest of the garden is flourishing and full of color (and too many weeds at this point.)

It’s time I do the same thing with my blog. Obsessing over SEO and page ranking, etc., it’s not good for me. It’s not good for my readers.

So, I am making a commitment. Though I still plan to share my blogging journey, I hope to never become obsessed with stats again. The numbers may go up or forever stay flat. Neither will change my purpose.

 

7 Reasons to Never Give Up

 

Listening to the Fans

Three people recently really helped me with this realization, even though they probably don’t realize the impact they had on me.

One, the amazing Caron Allen, author of the Dottie Manderson Mysteries, has been a perpetual cheerleader both on my blog directly and on Twitter. I’m sure I owe many of my Twitter followers to Caron’s efforts to help promote me and my blog.

Two, the incredibly sweet Kristy Jo Volchko, author of Mall Hair Maladieswhich I reviewed recently, gave me the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed on her site. Even though that interview just posted, the experience did a lot to bring back my joy.

Three, someone I don’t know very well but hope to going forward, Drew J. T. Smith, author of Zodiac Awakening, made a touching comment on Twitter about something he had read recently in my current work-in-progress. He even said he had read everything in the tale so far.

Now, I didn’t ask these three people why they have helped me or why they are reading my work. I’m pretty confident, though, that if I did, none of them would say anything about SEO or page ranking. These wonderful people are reacting to me, Wolfe Butler, and the works I am most proud of sharing.

Lucy, Hold the Ball

As Charlie Brown did so many times, I am going to fall back and kick the ball. Like Charlie, I may fall flat on my back. Even so, I have found my way back to joy, and I think that will resonate with readers.

I am very open to suggestions. If there is something you really liked or really hated or even just thought was okay about my blog or writing, please share it with me. I want to connect to people. I want to connect with you.

All the blog ranking stuff will come. Or maybe it won’t. If Caron, Kristy Jo and Drew are the only people I ever touch, I am happy with that. My goal was to reach someone.

Mission accomplished!

Thank you for reading!

Until next time….

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Sometimes you'll power through, but other times you'll want to drop back and punt. How do you know which to do? Read this important life lesson learned.

Why Be Patient When Working Towards Success

Success takes time. Time requires that you be patient. Patience is not always easy to achieve, but it is possible.

The last few weeks have truly tested my mettle and patience. A severe chest cold knocked me on my butt. Then, just when I thought I was going to recover, the pollen explosion sent me spiraling back down into agony. To add insult to injury, a freak storm did damage to my property this week.

It is very difficult to write meaningful content when you feel terrible. It’s almost impossible to write coherent material on cold medicine. To keep you from thinking I had slipped into a pattern of heavy drinking, I chose instead to take some time away from my blog and be patient.

And I missed it terribly!

With everything that has been going on, though, I have been reminded of an important life lesson.

Success rarely comes quickly, so you must always be patient. You must never stop trying.

 

Independent or Stubborn?

Independence is a key attribute of many successful people. Unfortunately, being independent sometimes feels incompatible with patience.

I can only imagine that I gave my parents quite the fit. They did their best to raise me properly, but I didn’t always make it easy.

I taught myself to ride a bike, and refused help even when both arms and legs were skinned, and I had suffered more than one groin injury.

Learning to tie a tie, learning to shave and learning how to care for injuries are all life lessons I taught myself. On more than one occasion, I suffered injuries that should have been addressed by a doctor, but I never told my parents. Instead, I set out to treating them myself with the plan to tell someone only if the wound got worse. Fortunately, that never happened.

It’s amazing I survived childhood.

 

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission or referral fee, at no extra cost for you.


Independence and Patience

Being independent should not be a negative trait. In fact, it often leads to ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking. It’s not surprise that so many leaders and inventers were independent people.

Learning to be patient tempers the independent spirit. Patience teaches you to wait and keep trying. It makes you understand that failures aren’t fatal, and that sometimes goals can only be reached with the help of others.

Both of my parents were incredibly stubborn, so I come by my need for independence quite honestly. My wife constantly picked on me about it.

Being stubborn has its strength. In the end, I learned how to ride that bike, even how to ride no handed. I survived all my injuries. My ties now always feature an elegant Windsor knot. I have shaved more times than I care to remember.

Every lesson was finally learned by being patient.

As a child I did not fully understand, but success only comes when you refuse to stop. You may not reach you goal today. However, if you are patient, tomorrow just might be your day.

You can read more about why you should never give up in the following post.

7 Reasons to Never Give Up

Is it worth it to be patient?

The question, then, becomes, “Is it worth it to be patient?” You bet it is.

My debut novel, Getting Home, is not really my first novel. In fact, I have five other complete novels that I wrote as a young man.

I can’t explain exactly why I never pursued anything with those stories. The writer brain is often a harsh critic, so I never fully imagined that I could make a living with writing. Often I thought that no one would connect with my writing, so there was no point in sharing it.

Last year, I changed that mentality. I decided to throw caution to the wind and tossed Getting Home out into the world. It is definitely not selling at a pace to provide me with a living, but it did set a ball in motion that will eventually get me to that point.

This month’s Tale of a New Blogger post hasn’t gone live, yet. That’s partly because I am very discouraged by April’s numbers. Being sick much of the month is no doubt the reason for poor numbers, but it’s still disheartening.

That said, there is no intention on my part to give up. Six months in, I am still loving my blogging journey. I love planning, writing and illustrating blog posts. Sharing my current Work-in-progress – Paradise – gives me great joy. Recently, I was even inspired to write some new poetry which you can read below.

Success takes time. Keep reminding yourself of that fact.

You Asked Me – Poem by Wolfe Butler

What Are You Working Toward?

What is your goal? Do you have a plan that you are working toward?

Be patient. If you get discouraged, think about the steps you need to reach that goal. Which ones have you reached already? Let that success fuel you to move forward.

Have you slipped an fallen? That’s okay. Get back up and back into the fight. Success will come, if you are patient and don’t give up.

Do you need some motivation? Here are 12 great quotes you can apply in your life to make success possible.

12 Awesome Motivational Quotes You Should Know

Rome Wasn’t Built…

There’s no reason to finish that line. You have all heard in many times before when someone was trying to encourage you to keep going. Maybe it was because you missed the mark of the goal you were aiming for. It’s a very true statement.

So, how do you keep going?

First, be sure to celebrate the small victories.

Building a house is an excellent analogy. The first step in building a house is finding the right property and then the right location on the property.

Next, the site is leveled out and the foundation is constructed.

Sometimes, it is weeks and even months later before the framing begins. After the framing, the home is dried-in, or in other words, the roof is complete and the exterior doors and windows are all put in place. From the dried-in stage, many more weeks can pass before there is further progress.

Every goal is very much like building a house. The foundation is the bedrock of your future. It’s based in patience.

Each step could be likened to the framing of walls, building a roof, or adding doors and windows.

The point is, each step is integral to the final goal of having a complete home.

 

4 Ways to Beat Procrastination – With Frogs

And That Means…

Writing a book, or any worthwhile project for that matter, is also not a steady forward moving process. Time and necessity (and sometimes illness) may force you to back away for a while. Writing yourself into a corner can take some time to overcome, often because difficult choices have to be made to correct the problem.

And editing. Ugh! Editing is murder. Ask any writer, and they will all pretty much tell you the same thing. Editing is the worst.

Yes, I am sliding a little off topic.

My point is that the final success of building a house or writing a book is built on many smaller successes along the way. That’s an important life lesson.

 

Celebrate Little Things

Take the time to celebrate the completion of the little steps, and it will be easier to be more patient until you achieve victory. Each mile marker is a move up to the top of your mountain. Celebrate each one.

Now don’t get my wrong, I didn’t see any contractors or homeowners celebrating when the framing or dry-in process was complete. But they could have.

Celebrate when you complete that chapter or word goal. Pat yourself on the back when you rework that particularly difficult passage. Sing from the rooftops when you finish editing a section of text.

OK, maybe not the last one unless you don’t have any neighbors nearby. I wouldn’t want any of my dear readers to be carted off to a padded room somewhere.

But you get my point. Each success is just that – a success. It’s too easy to get fixated on the long-term goal and fail to see the progress being made. Own that success and let it empower you to continue moving forward. By being patient, it will come.


But I’m Still Discouraged…

Some of you might be saying right now that despite the small successes, the ultimate goal seems too unattainable, so maybe you need to quit.

Stop. That. Thinking. Right. Now.

Or, if you absolutely have to have a pity party, give your permission to have that party today. However, that permission has to come with a condition.

Tomorrow, you have to get up with renewed vigor and dive back into whatever project you are working on. If you are writing, get back to writing. Are you are editing? Then keep editing, even through the tears and anguish that inevitably come with it. If you are building a house, go on to the next part of the building process.

For the time being, though, don’t think about your final goal. Instead, decide what the next step in your process should be and focus on that. If it’s writing 500 words or editing a chapter, that is now your goal.

Reach the goal. Celebrate. Pick the next goal. Repeat.

The big goal will come if you are patient and work hard.

You got this.

Yes, it’s true, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But when it was completed, what an amazing masterpiece it turned out to be.

Your work will be no different.

Until next time…

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Why should you be patient when working toward a goal? Because success rarely comes over night. Read this life lesson on how to cultivate patience.

 

12 Steps to a Happy Family

12 Steps to a Happy Family

Everyone strives to have a happy family. Today’s world throws a lot at families that makes this an ever challenging goal.

You have likely seen the good news posted by some “experts” that divorce rates are down. Unfortunately, those reports are only telling part of the story. While it is true that divorce rates (at least in the US) are dropping, the truth is that the rate of people getting married is dropping faster.

You can see the details as reported on the CDC Website.

 

 

But divorce isn’t the only problem. With so many distractions and time stealers in this digital age, many children and teens are feeling forgotten and unloved.

What can you do to ensure that you have a happy family? Here are 12 steps you can take:

Lesson 13: I’ve Learned that friends may come and go, but family is forever and must be cherished.

 

 

1. Talk to Each Other

Communication is most effective when there is a true sharing of feelings and words between family members. Getting all family members to talk is sometimes a challenge. Teens especially may tend to be closed off and silent.

The matter is not hopeless. Take the time to change a few of the things you are already doing and communication will flow more freely.

Talk when you are together.

No doubt there is time that is spent sharing meals or taking trips in the car of by public transportation. How are you using that time? If you are on your phone the entire time, there is no strengthening of the family.

Instead, take that time to talk to your family. Ask questions of each other and listen carefully as they speak. Try not to react too quickly, even if you hear something from your youngster that upsets you. Stifling them will only lead to more silence.

 

Limit distractions. 

Phones and other electronic devices are wonderful tools for staying connected to the world around us. They can likewise be large impediments to family communication. Checking text messages or social media alerts when a loved one is speaking will not show them that you care about what they are saying.

Set times for your family that are media free. Turn off phones or put them in another room during family dinners or when your teens come home from school. Take that time to listen to your family uninterrupted and you will draw closer.

Be flexible.

Family communication often cannot be scheduled. Your teen may want to talk late at night when you are ready to go to sleep. A younger child may want to tell you everything as soon as you pick them up from school.

Do your best to make yourself available to listen even when you are tired or have other things to do. Granted, you cannot stop every action to give your loved one your full attention. But if they see you making a consistent effort, they will feel valued and more likely to talk again later.

You can read another post about choosing your words carefully in this post.

2. Forgive Each Other

The silent treatment is a go-to response for hurt feelings in many families. This treatment may go on for days and even weeks when one family member refuses to forgive another for some offense.

As a result, this wall creates division in the family. Work hard to forgive each other quickly.

Sometimes it’s a matter of just asking yourself a few questions. Will what hurt me matter in 10 years? Is an apology necessary, or can I just overlook the offense? Am I being too sensitive?

Forgiveness means letting go of resentment and the offense that hurt you. It doesn’t mean that you need to pretend the offense never happened or should minimize it.

Holding on to resentment damages not only the family but you often on an emotional and physical level. It can create a rift in the marriage and distance parents and children.

This means if there has been a wrong committed, you should take the time to sit down and talk it out. Both of you should listen as the other explains their point of view. Then, do your best to move forward. Don’t continue to bring up offenses that you have forgiven.

 

3. Be Loyal to Each Other

Loyalty is at an all time low in this world. Too many people are quick to throw away relationships at the first sign of difficulty. This lack of loyalty is why divorce rates are high and why less people are getting married.

You chose your spouse for a reason. Continue to show each other proper consideration and love and your loyalty and commitment to each other will grow. Decide in your hearts that you will stay together come what may.

Take divorce and separation off the table from the start of the marriage. Divorce rates were lower in times gone past for that very reason. Most people did not consider divorce to be an option.

 


 

Family loyalty starts with your mind. How do you think about your spouse? Do you imagine someone else may be a better fit for you? Are there times you regret your marriage?

If any of those answers show weakness in your relationship, take action now to strengthen ties with your mate. Schedule time together and work on open communication. Examine what areas of your marriage are creating stress and then work together at fixing them

Children that are raised in an environment where their parents are loyal and committed to each other grow up to have strong relationships both with their parents and with their future families.

 

4. Support Each Other

The expression goes, “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’.” Your family is your most important team.

For a couple, this means changing a mindset from “What do I want to do?” to “What would be best for us to do?”

A family should be more than just a bunch of people living together. Make a united front on dealing with money, making family decisions, and child rearing.

Some couples try to keep separate lives in many respects and then wonder later why their marriage failed.

Work toward the success of your team by always working together.

 

5. Plan With Each Other

Closely associated with teamwork is setting goals. For a plan to be most beneficial, it involves flexibility, planning and plenty of hard work.

Both family and individual goals should be encouraged. Plans may involve necessary things like nutrition and exercise, or a reward to work towards like a special family vacation or weekend trip.

Decide as a family what things you would like to work toward. Pick a realistic deadline and set out the steps that will be needed to reach your goal. Think of any hurdles that may come up and how you’ll be able to overcome them.

In addition to family goals, help your children to set personal goals. Achieving goals can produce more happiness, stronger friendships, and more self-confidence among family members.

 

6. Value Each Other

Valuing your spouse includes showing them respect. Expressing value is demonstrated in how you interact with your family. Do you frequently criticize each other, or are compliments more common? Are you quick to listen to each other, or do you walk away from or dismiss conversations?

Strengthening your respect for your spouse and family members is a very internal process. Meditate on a list of qualities about your mate, perhaps even writing them down. Then tell your spouse why you appreciate those qualities.

Think too of how you would like to be treated. What actions make you feel valued and appreciate? Think of several areas and have family members do the same. Then take some time to discuss what everyone came up with and how you can do better as a family.

 

7. Lead Each Other

Parental example is a vital step in achieving a happy family. Leading involves not only stating what you think should be done, but making sure you are doing the same thing yourself.

For example, you may want to teach your children that lying is wrong. Will you later ask your child to tell an unexpected visitor that you are not home simply because you don’t want to speak to that person? Or will your teen hear you call in sick to work when you are not sick?

Think about the guidelines that are important to your family. Do you have rules about what movies or video games can be played? Are there friends you want your kids to avoid? Does your family value words like “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry”? How do you act in these areas?

The way you live your daily life will affect the way your family lives theirs. Show your family how they should live by the example you set.

 

8. Instruct Each Other

Every family has a core belief system. For many this involves honesty, strong work ethic, and politeness.

To have a truly happy family, these areas must be clearly defined and effectively taught.

A good work ethic can be taught from a very young age.

Give your child chores to complete and make sure they follow through. Chores not only teach responsibility but the importance of doing things for others. Learning to care for what’s important creates stronger and more independent adults.

Standards for politeness should also be taught to the very young. Saying “please” and “thank you” and learning to share are essential lessons. Set the example in these areas and your child will more likely follow suit.

 

9. Trust Each Other

Trust engenders confidence and consistency. Believe in your family and that they will do the right thing.

Learning to be trustworthy is not an automatic process. Teach your children the relationship between trust and freedom. A teen that respects a curfew will be more likely to receive occasional exceptions.

Teach your children to be honest at all times, even when they might upset you. Show them the consequences when they are not honest. Set the example in being honest yourself.

In addition, patience adds to contentment. Rather than giving your child everything they want when they want it, teach them to work towards something and to wait until the right time. Teaching patience can go along with teaching how to handle money and the importance of savings.

Lessons should likewise be taught about being reliable. Teach your family to follow through. Dependability is sadly lacking today. If you assign a chore, see to it that it is completed. If your teen commits to doing an activity, make sure they do it.

Again, set the example. Show that you are dependable in the way you treat your job and commitments. If you make social plans, make every effort to stick to them. Demonstrate your patience by telling your family something you want and then let them see you patiently work toward it.

 

10. Strengthen Each Other

Standing up for what you believe in is the key to identity. Core beliefs, moral character, and ethical standards all shape that identity.

Help your family develop their identity by assisting them to discern their weak and strong areas. What traits stand out? Which traits need improvement? Consider aspects like generosity, punctuality, and work ethic. Make sure your young one knows their strengths. If they have trouble coming up with a list about themselves, tell them what strengths you see in them.

Teach conviction. Does your family follow a moral code? What is the basis for that code? Why should it be supported?

Have a family discussion about identity. Remind your children that they have both a personal and family identity and that their actions affect both.

 

11. Work With Each Other

Many devalue hard work. Some have a “gimme” mentality and expect to be taken care of and served.

Teach your family to be industrious. Show them the value in learning to do new things. Help them to feel pride in a job well done. Whether it is  homework, a job, or household chores – look for ways to be more do better and more quickly. As skills develop, so will work enjoyment.

Learning balance is about finding the right middle ground between laziness and overworking. Take time for recreation for your family, but also show them how you complete the necessary things first.

 


 

The world is a big place. Even small actions can have a mighty effect. Show your young ones how even small chores benefit others. As they grow, this lesson will carry with them and help make the world a better place.

Demonstrate your work ethic by doing more than expected. Show your children how to take pride in their work and that there is often more to a job than just completing it. Taking out the trash is important. Cleaning up any mess that might be created in the process is the extra step.

 

12. Guide Each Other

Discipline is on the decline. Crime and violence are increasing. There is no doubt there is a connection.

Your family should know that there is right and wrong and that consequences result from doing the latter.

Discipline and guidance are more than yelling and spankings. When your child does something wrong, sit with them and explain to them why it was wrong. Help them to see how the bad conduct affects others. Affirm your love for them while helping them to understand the importance of reasonable rules.

Guidance comes into play with you spouse as well. Is one of you working too much? Are budgets being properly followed? How much quality time is being spent with the family?

It’s too easy to develop blinders to the things you are doing. You should be willing to talk, and listen carefully with an open mind if you are corrected.

Discipline must be consistent. If something is wrong, it is always wrong, no matter where you are or who you are with. Just like the law is always the law. Speeding is speeding whether you see the police or not. Family rules should be the same.

 

Love Each Other

Love was not included as a step because a truly happy family knows that love is an essential part of all 12 steps. Discipline in love. Speak in love. Forgive with love.

Love is more than just a warm feeling. It’s that effort to always see the good in your family. Peace and calm are fruits of love. Love first, and all the other steps will come easier.

Even in this dark world, a happy family is possible. If everyone works together and keeps love at the forefront, your family will achieve this goal.

Read the other life lessons here.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others and on social media. You can also pin the image below to Pinterest. Thank you!

Every family wants to be happy. Read 12 steps your family can take to reach that goal. #Family #Happy #Happiness

Every family wants to be happy. Read 12 steps your family can take to reach that goal. #Family #Happy #Happiness

Every family wants to be happy. Read 12 steps your family can take to reach that goal. #Family #Happy #Happiness

12 Awesome Motivational Quotes You Should Know

Whether you are starting a novel, a blog, a new business, or anything else, there will be times when it is hard to stay motivated. There will be difficult times, as with any life lesson, but these 12 motivational quotes and inspirational texts will help keep you going. #LifeLesson #LifeHack #Quote #Motivation #Inspiration
Whether you are starting a novel, a blog, a new business, or anything else, there will be times when it is hard to stay motivated. There will be difficult times, as with any life lesson, but these 12 motivational quotes and inspirational texts will help keep you going. #LifeLesson #LifeHack #Quote #Motivation #Inspiration
Whether you are starting a novel, a blog, a new business, or anything else, there will be times when it is hard to stay motivated. There will be difficult times, as with any life lesson, but these 12 motivational quotes and inspirational texts will help keep you going. #LifeLesson #LifeHack #Quote #Motivation #Inspiration
Whether you are starting a novel, a blog, a new business, or anything else, there will be times when it is hard to stay motivated. There will be difficult times, as with any life lesson, but these 12 motivational quotes and inspirational texts will help keep you going. #LifeLesson #LifeHack #Quote #Motivation #Inspiration

It’s often not easy. Most of the time it is very difficult. There will be obstacles, but the final success will make you forget them. It’s a life lesson you need to learn. Sometimes a motivational quote is just the push you need. Here we will discuss 12.

Learning life lessons is essential if you are to grow as a person. In a continuation of my I’ve Learned Series, today’s post offers motivation for you to keep pursuing your dreams.

life lessons

 

Some life lessons will help you cope with tragedy and discouragement. Many will help you live peaceably while being more empathic and compassionate. Still others, the ones you will read about today, will give you the push you need to get started and keep going.

Whether you are dreaming of being a published author, a renowned stage actor or just a few pounds lighter, these quotes will help get you moving.

life lessons

 Start Here

Motivational Quote: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

It is easy to put off a dream or goal because we are not where we think we should be. Have you ever said any of these things?

·         I will do it when I get a little older and have more time.

·         I will start when my kids are grown.

·         I will start exercising on January 1st.

·         I will start when the weather gets warmer.

·         I will start when I’m in a better position financially.

There are lots of reasons to put off your dreams. The truth is, there will never be the perfect time or circumstances. Start here. Start now.

Success never happens overnight. Start today in the direction you want to go. Tomorrow, you will wake up one step closer to your goal.

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post also contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission or referral fee, at no extra cost for you.


 life lessons

Set Goals

Motivational Quote: “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

A leader with motivational quotes, Tony Robbins gives one of the keys to success.

You already have your dream. The final prize is clearly in your mind. Setting goals is about more than just setting the ultimate destination. Success is achieved through reaching many smaller goals. These small goals serve as footholds and milestones that are an important part of your journey.

Even small goals are important.

Suppose your ultimate goal is to write a novel. Most novels are in the range of 80,000-100,000 words. Very few people could pump out that many words in a day. Most can’t even do it in a week.

That’s why you start with smaller goals.

If you want to write a 100,000-word novel in a year, that means you need to write 275 words per day. Writing 275 words isn’t nearly as daunting as 100,000. Up to this point in this post you have already read 350 words. It’s not that much to commit to writing each day. It’s a realistic and achievable goal.

The same is true for every goal. Use this life lesson and break your goal down into its smallest parts. Then set each of those parts as a goal that you can knock off one by one.

 life lessons

Look for Opportunity

Motivational Quote: “Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” – Napoleon Hill

A few lucky people are born into wealth and privilege. Due to their family legacy, they have all the tools they need to work towards virtually any goal. Or at least the means to buy the tools.

The rest of us usually like to wait for opportunity to find us. Stop waiting and start actively looking for opportunities. That truth makes this one of the most popular motivational quotes.

I got started in the financial services field completely by chance. One day, while visiting one of my neighbors at his office, I noticed an abundance of files scattered around in piles on the floor.

Often not the most tactful person, I made a comment about them and how unprofessional they looked.

My friend explained that he desperately needed a new filing system, but his entire staff was so busy that no one had time to work on it. I had some free time in my schedule, so I offered to spend a few hours a week putting things in order.

That simple act led to a twenty-year career in financial services.

The point here is that opportunity is all around us. Rarely does it come and knock on our door, but if we keep our eyes and minds open, we will see opportunity all around us.

Look around your life for the opportunities you need that will help you achieve your dreams.


 life lessons

Forget Your Age

Motivational Quote: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – Les Brown

A lie that people like to tell themselves, especially as they get older, is that they aren’t the right age to pursue their dream. That lie is complete garbage.

In my life I have had the pleasure of watching friends achieve their goals, even starting late in life. One friend started taking piano lessons when she was nearly 60. She is a very accomplished pianist today. Another friend about the same age started taking art classes. His paintings now garner more attention than those from painters with decades of experience.

Browse the internet and you will find stories of many octogenarians that have started running marathons, taken up sky diving or gone back to school. They learned the life lesson and apply it in their lives.

You are not too young or too old to start a new goal. Get that thought out of your head.

Walt Disney was famous for saying, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Forget your age. It’s only a number. Keep this message with you favorite motivational quotes.

 life lessons

Leave the Past in the Past

Motivational Quote: “The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.” – Unknown

Another obstacle people put in the way of their dreams is the past. Maybe you tried to lose weight before but then gained it all back. Perhaps you started a business and it didn’t succeed. You might have started writing a book that you never finished.

All those things are okay. There is nothing you can do to change them. Stop letting them halt your future progress.

Tomorrow is a blank page. Nothing from yesterday needs to color it. Choose for tomorrow to be the day that gets you closer to your goal.

life lessons 

Take Action

Motivational Quote: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

Now that the past is behind you, and you have your goal broken down into more manageable parts, it’s time for action.

Do at least one thing every day to move you forward. It doesn’t have to be a huge task. But do something every day.

Sometimes it might be just making a decision.

For instance, if you are starting a blog, one of the things most bloggers struggle with is picking a domain name. Your goal for today could be to make a list of possible names. If you already have a list, today’s assignment could be to pick one and sign up with a hosting company.

Reaching a goal isn’t about making big strides every day. Doing so might get you there faster, but any forward movement is just that – forward movement.

Do one thing today that moves you forward and count today as a win.

 life lessons

Leave Fear Behind

Motivational Quote: “Success often comes to those who dare and act; it seldom goes to the timid who are ever afraid of the consequences.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

It’s a crazy truth, but many people never achieve their dreams because they are afraid of success. Singer song-writers may fear that fame will change their lives in negative ways. Actors may fear that they won’t be able to keep the momentum after one big success. Authors fear that they might not have another good book in them.

Fear also rears its ugly head from the other direction. An author might fear publishing a book that no one reads or likes. I venture that every author feels that way, at least with their very first book.

An artist may fear that no one will understand or like their art. A musician might fear that no one will connect with their songs.

Don’t let fear stop you. Most things we fear will never happen. Learn and believe that life lesson.

There are more than 7-billion people on the planet. 7 billion! Many of them are going to like what you do no matter how good or bad it is.

Think of some of the worst films you have ever seen. Probably they all have some sort of cult following that love the film.

And if you don’t succeed? That’s not even an option. If you reach your goal, whatever that goal is, you have already succeeded. That success will change everything else in a good way.


 life lessons

Keep Moving

Motivational Quote: “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” – Rabindranath Tagore

Imagine that your dream is to build a boat and sail across the ocean. You work hard for months or years in crafting an excellent vessel. If you never put that boat in the water and actually set sail, your dream will never reach its true fulfillment.

Many writers do this with books. They write books, sometimes dozens of them, but then they never pursue publication. One writer share on Twitter recently that she has a whole wall of books she wrote and never pursued.

Most likely fear comes back into play here, but I cannot say that for sure. I myself have written at least five books, but only one is published. Getting that one published with a struggle that I stopped many time. You can read my experience here.

Reaching a milestone is not the place to stop. Keep your goal in front of you always. Then keep moving forward.

Life lesson? If you already have the boat finished, now is the time to get in the water.

 life lessons

Expect Failure as Part of the Life Lesson

Motivational Quote: “There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” – Brene Brown

The brutal truth is that failure is an integral part of success. But failure never has to be the end. Just because something doesn’t succeed the first time, or even the second or hundredth time, doesn’t mean that it never will.

Nearly all the biggest achievements in the world arrived with a past littered with numerous failures. Thomas Edison is a famous example. For each of his world-changing successes were thousands of ideas that had not worked.

To read more about Thomas Edison and perseverance, read my post 7 Reasons to Never Give Up.

What’s necessary is to change your mindset. Expect you will have at least some failures during your journey. Then, when they happen, meditate on what you can learn from the failure and move on.

Your dream is still achievable.

life lessons

Stop Procrastinating

Motivational Quote: “Procrastination is the bad habit of patting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.” – Napoleon Hill

Perhaps the biggest barrier to success is procrastination. Continually putting off the steps that need to be completed to reach your goal keeps your prize forever out of arm’s reach.

The good news is procrastination is another thing that is in your control. There is a great post about how to beat procrastination. 4 Ways to Beat Procrastination – With Frogs  is another life lesson that gives you four easy things you can do to change your procrastinating habit .

Resolve that you will keep moving forward. Set deadlines for yourself and do everything in your power to achieve them.

 

It’s Up to You

Motivational Quote: “Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” – Carol Burnett

Only you can do what needs to be done. No matter how many online courses you pay for, how many classes your take or how many personal trainers you see, at the end of the day you are the only one that can do what needs to be done. You are the one that needs to write, exercise or eat better.

You have the ability to reach your goal. Remind yourself of that daily. Hourly if you have to. It is possible. You can do it.

life lessons

 

Keep Going

Motivational Quote: “Never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill

No matter what happens along the pathway to achieving your dream, don’t give up. There will be bad days. There might be bad weeks and months. I’ve even had bad years. But don’t let anything stop you from moving forward.

Even if circumstances cause your project to stall for a while, as soon as possible, get moving again.

Remember that the small things count. That’s another life lesson.

If your goal was to fill a bucket with rocks, big rocks would get the job done quicker. But even the smallest rocks tossed into the bucket add to the whole.

Acknowledge the small successes as well as the big ones. Each one is moving you toward reaching your dream.

You got this.

 

Life Lesson Learned

This post contains just a few of the quotes that have helped to reaffirm this life lesson in my mind. Are there quotes that keep you motivated? Please share them in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with friends and on social media.

Need a little motivation? Here are 12 quotes to keep you moving forward. #LifeLessons #Motivation #QuotesNeed a little motivation? Here are 12 quotes to keep you moving forward. #LifeLessons #Motivation #QuotesNeed a little motivation? Here are 12 quotes to keep you moving forward. #LifeLessons #Motivation #QuotesNeed a little motivation? Here are 12 quotes to keep you moving forward. #LifeLessons #Motivation #QuotesNeed a little motivation? Here are 12 quotes to keep you moving forward. #LifeLessons #Motivation #QuotesNeed a little motivation? Here are 12 quotes to keep you moving forward. #LifeLessons #Motivation #Quotes

Words Do Real Damage – 3 Questions to Ask Before Speaking

Words Do Real Damage –

3 Questions to Ask Before Speaking

Words do real damage. Sometimes we learn this life lesson by things that are said to us, and sometimes by words we say to someone else. Once a word is spoken, it can never be taken back. Even the most sincere apologize will never truly heal the wound.

With this in mind, it is important that we think first before speaking. Especially in a moment of high emotion or anger. Here are three questions you should ask yourself.

 

One of my favorite stories is about a little boy with a bad temper. Everything I found online says the author is unknown, so I will only be crediting the site where I found the story.

Nails In The Fence – Author Unknown

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”

The little boy then understood how powerful his words were. He looked up at his father and said “I hope you can forgive me father for the holes I put in you.”

“Of course I can,” said the father.

Story found on: Inspiration Peak

 

Life Lesson Learned

This story illustrates an important life lesson. Words can do damage. Words spoken in anger are like the piercing of a nail. A sincere apology might remove the nail, but the scar is now forever there.

Like the little boy in the story, there is something we can do to make sure we are putting as few nails as possible into the fence. Ask yourself these three questions before you are tempted to say something in anger.

Would I Write It Down and Sign My Name to It?

Internet trolls and cyber bullies have done their best to make social media a hostile environment. The common thread among these harsh critics is that they typically speak anonymously.

It’s easy to say something hurtful or disparaging when you know the words won’t be attributed to you. But if you don’t want your name attached, should you be saying it in the first place? Most likely not.

 

 

Take a minute to think the next time you are inclined to write or say something negative. Imagine yourself one, five or ten years in the future. Would you want these words attributed to you in your life story? Would you want them to be the words you are remembered for?

We never know which of our words will be the ones that will stick with someone. That is all the more reason to choose them carefully.


How Would It Make Me Feel?

Next, switch roles for a moment before speaking. How would you feel to be on the receiving end of what you are about to say?

Cruel and heartless comments have become commonplace today. High ranking people in positions or authority are setting the worst example by their careless use of words.

Don’t follow their example.

Would you want to be called fat? Stupid? Crazy? Lazy? Incompetent?

Then don’t say those words to someone else. Don’t post them on social media.

 

Would I Want It to be My Last Words?

The sad reality is that someday we are all going to die. That’s a life lesson we are reminded of every day. We may live to be 100, or we might die in a freak accident later today. The six people recently killed by a bridge collapse in Miami were just going about their daily life. They had no warning that their time was up.

If today were your last day, what were the last words you spoke to your loved ones? Is that how you want to be remembered? Would you want those words on your tombstone?

In other posts I have talked about how I lost my wife suddenly. In the decade since, I have often agonized over our last conversation. Trust me when I say that it is not a burden you want to carry.

In conclusion, remember the fence as you go through your day. It might take a while for you to stop putting nails in it. Likely you will never stop. But you can reduce the number of nails by thinking carefully about what you are going to say next.

I hope you enjoyed this life lesson. Do you have questions you ask yourself before speaking? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Until next time….

 

7 Reasons to Never Give Up

7 Reasons to Never Give Up

There are many ways to be taught a life lesson. Often the best teacher is also the most painful. Trials, struggles and adversities can teach a great deal if we can survive them. The key is to never give up.

Quotes are important to me. I love to write them down and refer to them for inspiration and comfort. Today I will share seven of my favorites and how they can help you to never give up.

 

This writer has had his fair share of struggles and disappointments. Most days it feels like more than a fair share, but we are all living with our own private hell.

Rather than focus on the struggles and negative, today I want to concentrate on how to keep going.

 

Focus on the Light

A light appears to be at its brightest when everything around it is dark. The trouble is that when things in our lives are the most dark, we often feel we can’t see past the darkness. Light is always there. It might be a small speck in the distance, but it is there.

Look for the light. If you see even a hint of light, focus on it.

Frequently, when things are at their worst, we tend to close our eyes, at least figuratively. Things are so bad, we can’t bear to see anything else. I have been in that darkness more than once. I’m sure I will be there again.

Have you ever watched a sunrise? I don’t mean just the last few moments before the sun crests over the horizon. I mean starting from the dead of night.

The first hints of light are barely discernable. But then, as if by magic, light begins to infiltrate the sky.

Keep looking for the light and you will find it.

 

It’s Okay to Start Over

I have failed at three businesses. It’s important to me to share that so you can understand where I am coming from.

Many times when everything falls apart, we can’t help but keep trying to put things back together. But sometimes Humpty Dumpty can’t be fixed. And that’s okay. Maybe he shouldn’t be.

Relationships, businesses, creative endeavors all may fail. Sometimes it’s an epic fail. So, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”

Many times, it is not really a failure. What may at first seem to be a fail may actually prove to be milestone on the road to your success.

Thomas Edison became famous for saying “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

Learn from today and start new tomorrow.

 

Struggles Produce Strength

This quote provides a life lesson most easily illustrated through exercise. Starting an exercise program can be difficult and painful. But the only way to achieve that beach-worth body is to push through the pain.

Here in Tennessee the weather has started to warm up. A few days ago, I plunged myself into work in preparing my flower beds for spring.

Evidently, I have not stretched the muscles in my thighs and hips for most of the winter. Too much time spent writing, I imagine. After just a few hours spent squatting in the flower beds, I had the pleasure of hobbling around the next few days like an 80-year-old man.

Should I stay out of the gardens? Of course not. My body will adjust again to working in the yard. There might be some pain along the way, but it is worth it in reaching the end result.

If you are suffering through something right now, look for ways to gain strength from this experience.

 

Difficulties Produce Success

This quote by Samuel Smiles is one of my favorites. You could never reach the top of the mountain without climbing it. Why would we expect any other success to be different?

Let’s think for a minute about marathon runners. No one would just wake up one day and decide to run a marathon. The Boston Marathon is just over 26 miles. I’m not sure I could even walk 26 miles. In fact, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t. Some days driving 26 miles requires an effort.

Marathon runners train for months and years. They get up early to run in snow, rain and dark of night. They know the struggle is integral to reaching their goal of completing the marathon.

That’s an important point. Not every marathon runner, in fact most I would imagine, runs with the hope of winning the race. For many the goal is simply to finish the race.

Keep your eyes on your goal. And your first goal should be realistic.

If you were starting a new business, you would never expect to become a millionaire the first year. Yes, it does happen, but it is very rare. Very rare.

Instead, your first goal might be to be profitable. Most new businesses are not profitable for 2-5 years. Being profitable is a very realistic and important goal.

It’s the same for anything else. Yes, you may struggle. It may feel like you are always going uphill. But keep your goal in mind and you will attain success.

 

Success Requires Sacrifice

Intentionally, I am going to misapply this wonderful quote by Dr. King. While he was talking specifically about pursuing justice for all, the gist of his words can apply to any struggle.

Meditate on a few of the expressions he used. Requires sacrifice. Tireless exertions. Passionate concern. Dedicated.

Success in endeavors or in life does not happen without effort. If life sucks right now, well, I’m sorry. But that is part of life. Giving up now will get you nowhere.

Suffering is an important part of the journey. Many of us best learned empathy and compassion as a direct result of the terrible things we experienced.

Dedicate yourself to reaching your goal. Whether it is achieving a healthy life or writing a book, dedication and sacrifice will be your footholds to your ultimate goal.

 

Success is a State of Mind

I would have liked to meet Napoleon Hill. Over the years I have collected dozens of his quotes. Many of them keep me going from day to day.

You will never truly fail until you quit in your own mind.

One of my favorite stories is that of Captain Ernest Shackleton and the loss of the ship ironically named Endurance. I may even dedicate an entire post to it later on.

The Endurance was crushed and sunk in the South Atlantic by pack ice. Shackleton and a few of his crew set out in their small lifeboat to reach a whaling station. Terrible conditions forced them to land the boat 20 miles from the station.

With no climbing equipment and subzero temperatures, his small party treked uncharted, snow-covered mountains to reach the station and rescue the rest of their crew. It took 17 days.

None of his crew were lost.

What kept his crew going despite seemingly hopeless odds? They believed their captain would keep his promise to rescue them.

How did Captain Shackleton keep himself going? His primary ambition was to save every one of his men. Failure was not an option. His mind was determined on success.

The mind is more powerful than we often give it credit for. If you believe you will fail, you will fail.

But chance to believe you will succeed? You may just rescue your entire crew.

 

Refuse to Stop Fighting

Personally, I am not a fan of boxing. I’m sorry if that offends you. But I don’t understand two people senselessly beating each other to a pulp.

Boxing does teach us an important life lesson. The winner of the match isn’t necessarily the strongest or the biggest.

The trait that creates winners in the ring is the refusal to stay down. Hit them over and over and over. (Seriously, why do they do this?) They keep getting up.

Life is often like a dirty boxing opponent. It breaks the rules and hits you in the most sensitive areas.

Keep getting up.

The end of a relationship might flatten you.

Keep getting up.

Closing a business may be devastating.

Keep getting up.

Serious health conditions may overtake you.

To the extent you can, keep getting up.

You got this. I believe in you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this life lesson from the I’ve Learned series. What keeps you from giving up? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments.

Until next time…

4 Ways to Beat Procrastination – With Frogs

4 Ways to Beat Procrastination – With Frogs

Have you had your frog this morning? That probably sounds a little insane, unless, of course, you are someone who likes to have frogs for breakfast.

Hey, it’s possible. Maybe.

Let’s try another question.

Are you buried in to-dos today? If you are a blogger, writer, mom, worker, etc. most likely you are. There is ALWAYS something to be done. If you are like me, you have a post that is due today or tomorrow that you have not started. This post goes out Saturday morning and I am working on it at 6:20 PM Friday night.

It could be worse. At least it’s not midnight. Yet.

Procrastination is a curse that most of us contend with on a daily basis. Why do today what can be done tomorrow? So goes the procrastinator’s motto. The only problem with that philosophy is that now you have added additional stress to tomorrow.

Stress is never good. You know that.

So stop procrastinating! How? Learn this lesson about frogs.

Now you are thinking, “But what does procrastination have to do with frogs?”

Good question. Bear with me a moment while I give you some background for this post.

In the last two months, I have been spending copious amounts of time reading advice online and off about blogging and working as a freelancer. In one of the posts, and forgive me that for the moment I can’t remember which one, the writer referred to this quote by Mark Twain:

The quote has been stuck in my head ever since I read it. Mr. Twain, or Mr. Clemens as the case may be, was not really advocating for the eating of live frogs.

Well, at least I don’t think he was. Not having known him personally, I can’t say with certainty what he meant.

I have chosen to believe that the point he was trying to make was to stop procrastinating. If we would tackle the worst thing we need to do first thing in the morning, everything else would be downhill from there.

Read Lesson 1 in the I’ve Learned series

Are you guilty of procrastinating on the tasks you don’t want to do?

I know I am. In the corporate world, I often had three piles on my desk:

  1. Things that had to be done today
  2. Things that needed to be done soon and
  3. Things that were very low priority.

I often put things in pile 2 that I did not want to do. They would often stay there until I was coming up on a deadline before they made it to pile 1. I spent more time dreading the jobs I didn’t want to do than I did actually doing them.

One day I woke up and realized what I was doing to myself. It was crazy for me to cause extra stress by putting off tasks I didn’t want to do. I made a change that day.


I had not heard the quote from Mark Twain at the time. Perhaps if I had, I would have been moved to action sooner.

The change to my day was undeniable. My stress level dropped considerably. I was still having to deal with difficult people and mundane tasks, but by getting those things completed first thing, the rest of my day went much smoother and with much less dread of the remaining work on my desk.

Back to Mark Twain’s quote. He also supposedly said that if you have two frogs to eat, you should eat the bigger one first or something to that effect. I could not easily find this latter quote on the internet.

Again, the point is, at least in my mind, to do the worst things first. Get that big, ugly frog off your plate.

Nothing against frogs.

Here are four important lessons we can learn from this quote:

1.      Schedule Eating Your Frog

 

You have a million things that need to be done. Besides whatever you do for work, you have a home, family, and friends calling for your attention.

Add to that all the little distractions in your day. That, “Oh, my friend just posted new pictures on Facebook,” that turns into hours of browsing. You know what I mean.

Make yourself accountable. Schedule those tasks you don’t want to do just like you would schedule any other appointment or job. Go ahead and put it on your calendar. And be sure to schedule it early in the day so you can stop dreading it.

When that time comes, do the task. No grumbling or complaining. Do it and move on.

2.      Prepare Your Frog in Advance

 

You can take a lot of stress out of your morning by planning your day the night before. Taking just 10-15 minutes at the end of the day to plan the following day means that tomorrow you can wake up and start the day without having to think about what needs to be done. You have a plan and a schedule.

Many people do this already with lunches or planning outfits. I’m not a morning person so the fewer things I have to do in the morning the better. That means ironing any items the night before is a necessity. Fortunately, now that I am working from home, there’s a whole lot less ironing to be done.

3.      Don’t Eat Every Frog

 

There are dozens of tasks calling for our attention in a typical day. Lessen some the distractions by choosing to ignore some of them. Not every task deserves your attention. And not every decision is life altering.

Some people find some relief in this regard by making consistent decisions by the day of the week. For instance, many busy moms have a weekly schedule for meals: Monday is spaghetti, Friday is pizza, etc.

Mark Zuckerberg made an interesting comment about unnecessary decisions in this interview from 2014. He was asked why he was so often seen wearing the same looking t-shirt or hoodie. His response?

“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.” Zuckerberg felt, at least at the time, that deciding what to wear was a decision he didn’t need to spend mental energy on.

So he bought multiples of the same items. With only one color shirt in the drawer or hoodie on the rack and you don’t have to decide what to put on.

This may be an extreme example, but there are likely little decisions in your life that you can stop making. Take some time to think about it.

4.      Don’t Let Other Frogs Distract You

 

How many social media alerts have you gotten just while reading this post? As soon as you finish reading this, go turn off ALL of those notifications.

Stopping what you are doing every 5-10 minutes to read updates is only causing you more stress.

I’m serious. Go turn them off. You will thank me later.

This doesn’t mean you should give up social media entirely. It’s fun to see what others are doing and to interact with your friends and followers. But set limits. Just like you wouldn’t let a real frog hop everywhere in your house, set boundaries for social media.

Read Lesson 4 in the I’ve Learned series

 

For many people setting a timer helps. Start an egg timer or set an alarm on your phone and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to play, say 30-60 minutes. But, when that timer goes off, so should social media. Get back to work and ignore social media until your next scheduled play-break.

Takeaway

Rooting procrastination out of your life is an ongoing process. Don’t get discouraged if you find yourself frequently slipping backwards. No course to self-improvement is always forward motion.

What’s important is that you keep working on it.

Every time you tackle those difficult tasks first thing, give yourself the right to celebrate a little. Give yourself a pat on the back or a high-five because hopefully the worst part of your day is now over.

Remember that good feeling and remind yourself the next time you are tempted to procrastinate.

What tips do you have for overcoming procrastination? How did these tips help you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time…

Why You Should Always Say, “I Love You”

Why You Should Always Say, “I Love You”

For years I have scribbled short notes to myself regarding life lessons learned along the way. I have a box that is full of those notes. They are the reminders that even in the worst times there are important lessons to be learned.

Many people have the luxury of spending their childhoods and young adult years not thinking about losing people. They imagine that the people in their lives will always be there.

Personally, I only remember one funeral before I was thirteen. I’m sure that I lost other people I knew before that time, but death was not a real concept.

At thirteen, I lost my grandmother, my favorite person in the world.

Death became very real and my luxury of ignorance was forever taken away.

It is one of the hardest lessons for you to learn. That’s why it is so important to tell your loved ones every day what they mean to you.

 

Lesson 8

Tragic Tuesday

It was a Tuesday when I lost my beloved wife, Laramie.

She was out running errands and had called to see if I had any special requests for dinner. We had talked for a few minutes, mostly about a friend of ours that was again doing something stupid with his life.

I was busy, so I tried to keep the call brief. We were going to talk more that night. Tuesday night was our date night, and we looked forward to spending that time together.

It was only 45 minutes later when I got the call that forever changed my life.

Actually, it was the second call.

The first one I did not answer because I was busy and felt the friend calling would not have anything important to say.

When the same friend called again less than five minutes later, I knew I had to pick up. My gut told me something was terribly wrong.

The tone in my friend’s voice only reaffirmed my sense of dread.

Dark clouds

Life Forever Changed

My friend didn’t tell me what had happened. She only asked that I come to her house as soon as possible.

I was out the door before we even ended the call.

In my heart I already knew what I was going to hear, but I prayed fervently on the short drive that I would be wrong.

I wasn’t.

An inattentive driver had crossed the center line on the highway, and my dear Laramie was gone in an instant.

I don’t remember much of the next few days. I planned a funeral, picked out a casket and welcomed hundreds of her friends to the funeral.

Once the rush of activity was over, I started reliving the last days of her life. I mediated on the conversations we had, the text messages we sent and the quiet moments we shared. I tried to remember every breath, every word, every expression that had passed between us.

Try as I could, I did not remember the last time I told her I loved her.

Disclaimer: Wolfe Butler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission (or referral fee), at no extra cost for you.


Missing Piece

That missing piece is probably the most painful. Part of me knows that Laramie felt how much I loved her. She knew me better than I know myself.

We often joked that we shared a brain. Most of our conversations only had half sentences because we generally knew what the other was thinking and going to say.

However, another part of my heart scolds me daily for not having told her more often how much I love her. I never imagined that last conversation would be our last.

I do remember clearly that I did not say, “I love you,” before I hung up.

Months of Tragedy

In the next 18 months, I lost fourteen more friends, seven of them dying in horrifying accidents. It got to the point that I was so numb that I could not cry anymore. In an attempt at levity, I commented to a friend at one of the latter funerals that I had worn out my black suit. It was a devastating period, but it reaffirmed this important life lesson.

Man on bench sad

With each new loss, I struggled with remembering the last time I had expressed affection to my friend. When had we last talked? When had we last spent time together? When did I last let them know that I cared about them?

Too many times I have found that I cannot remember. That is a terrible burden that I will carry the rest of my life.

In time, I gained some relief about Laramie. Some closure came from sorting through the items she left behind.

It was quite some time after I lost her before I felt I could invade her privacy in that way.

One of the things she had kept was a card I had given to her years earlier. She had been going through a difficult time emotionally because a dear friend had let her down terribly.

In the card I wrote, “You might be only one person in the world, but to one person, you are the world. I know who that person is.”

I didn’t even sign the card, but it meant enough to her that she had placed it in her special box of keepsake treasures. After crying new tears at this find, I placed it gently back in the box where it remains to this day.

 

Purple white flowers

 

Lesson Learned

Think about the loved ones in your life: husbands, wives, children, parents, grandparents, and close friends.

When is the last time you told them just how much they mean to you?

How long has it been since you last told them how special they are? how much you love them?

When did you last hug them? kiss them? hold their hand?

Can you remember the last time?

If you can’t, today is the day you need to start telling them. And don’t ever stop.

Read Lesson 4: …to be surrounded with the positive

To my blog friends, who is someone that you lost before you could tell them how much you loved them?

Although painful, this is a great writing exercise. That raw emotion can later fuel a character in your writing. If you decide to create a post to answer that question, please come back and let us know.

Until next time…

For more life lessons learned, be sure to Click Here to read the rest of the I’ve Learned series.

What I Learned From the Cider House Rules

Wolfe Butler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission (or referral fee), at no extra cost for you

Lesson 7

The Cider House Rules

Tobey Maguire as Homer Wells from The Cider House Rules often comes to visit me in my mind. It has been nearly twenty years since the movie was released, and almost that long since I last saw it. Yet, it lives with me every day.

With its unexpected and often dark storyline, it reaffirmed in my mind a life lesson that I guess I had always known but did not fully resonate with me until I saw the movie. Even when every intention plans to go one direction, sometimes the journey itself chooses a different direction.

The movie, based on John Irving’s book of the same name, first published in 1985, tells the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch, obstetrician, founder and director of an orphanage is rural Maine. The story takes place in the first half of the twentieth century.

Homer Wells is Dr. Larch’s favorite orphan and is never adopted. Homer becomes the doctor’s apprentice and has big dreams of leaving the orphanage and having a life of his own.

Life, it seems, has other plans for him.

Repeatedly throughout the story, Homer makes plans to pursue his goals, but each time, through the people in his life, he is taught that he is already on the path that has chosen him.

My Journey

My life has not turned out anything like the life I had planned as a child and teenager. I used to tell everyone that I was going to be a writer, living in a small cabin in the mountains of Colorado.

Now, with 50 knocking loudly at the door, I find myself in rural Tennessee, never having been to Colorado, but finally living in my cabin in the woods. However, I am only just now really starting on my writer journey.

Plans change. A common quote on the internet is from John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

How true that is. My life is nowhere close to the life I imagined I would have, or even set out to have, as a young man. I live more than 1300 miles from where I had intended to live. Instead of doting on grandchildren, or even children of my own, I live alone in the quiet mountains of Tennessee. I have spent the last twenty years working in the financial services industry when I had hoped to be writing full-time the entire time.

Snowy trees

Different Isn’t Always Bad

I grew up in the Great White North, as many of us from there refer to the upper Midwest. One unexpected vacation to Tennessee, with its notably smaller mountains but with warm weather and southern hospitality, and I was sold.

Someday I will make it to Colorado, but it is often too cold there. This winter, I am finding Tennessee too cold, and I am daydreaming of living on the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. That is my next dream. I have not made it there permanently, but I do make a point of visiting often.

12 Awesome Motivational Quotes You Should Know

Looking back, had I made it to Colorado, and especially in my early twenties as I had intended to, I would have lived a very different life. That life may have been better or worse, I can’t say. What I do know is that I would have missed the journey and all the experiences of the past 20 years. Those experiences turned into precious memories that I would not want to be without.

Had I never come to Tennessee, I never would have met the love of my life. Meeting her and her family brought me so many unexpected and wonderful life experiences. They are the ones that first introduced me to the white sand beaches I so dearly love, and the ocean itself for that matter. Through them, I developed an intense love for the sea that will never end.

Those journeys and experiences shaped the person I am today, and that is a person I am proud to be.

Twitter banner 2

 

Loss is Part of the Journey

I lost my dear Laramie several years ago. It is a raw and aching pain that I know will never fully go away. Losing her, I felt like half of me died as well. I’m reminiscent to a stroke survivor that has to learn to live without the use of half of my body.

Sad as that is, I would not trade one second of this pain, because that would have mean that I never would have met Laramie. To share in her ever optimistic and deeply empathetic view of the world, for even a short time, is a gift that makes every bit of pain now worth it.

She truly made me a better person, and her influence lives on through those of us that loved her.

Regarding my career choices, yes, I am well behind where I wanted to be in my writing career. In November 2017 I self-published my debut novel, Getting Home. It is a book I could not have written without the experiences of the past twenty years.

Working in financial services for so many years introduced me to an abundance of colorful and unique individuals, many of whom I have stolen traits from to create the characters in my writing. Not to mention it allowed me the opportunity to have a little savings so that in this chapter of my life I can concentrate on writing more than working.

Notebook Coffee

What’s Your Journey?

My dear readers, I would love to hear your stories. What dreams did you have? What life chose you? Please leave your comments, or if you are further inclined, use these questions as a writing prompt on your own blog. Send me a link when your post is published, and I will post that link on this page.

To close today, I will refer to my favorite quote from The Bridges of Madison County, by Robert James Waller, “The old dreams were good dreams; they didn’t work out, but glad I had them.”

Until next time…