Friday, November 16, 2018

Humility and Confidence

 Guest post 
by 
Art Merrill

     
I think we tend to classify ourselves and others in terms of whether we are humble or confident people.  While there is some validity in these assessments in general terms, I think the truth is a bit more nuanced than that.  We all spend our lives moving back and forth on a spectrum with humility on one end and confidence on the other.


     We tend to be humble when we are new at something or striving to master a new skill or ability.  We tend to be humble when we decide to make a move and seek a better station in life for ourselves.  As we gain new skills, we naturally gain confidence in ourselves and that confidence fuels further growth.  This is also natural and good.

     However, I have noticed another pattern within this broader pattern of behavior.  It seems that our confidence eventually grows too large and it crowds out the humility that was the genesis of the learning that led to the newly found confidence in the first place.  As the confidence replaces the humility, the growth also slows or stops completely.

     While this may not seem like a bad thing when observed from a distance, I believe this is the exact moment and place where so many of us tend to plateau or settle.  Perhaps we think we have ‘topped out’ or reached our full potential.  We think we have arrived at our natural place in the world.  We look around and we see that most others who started where we started are doing about as well as we are doing and we conclude-erroneously- that we are where we belong, where we were destined to arrive.

     What I think really happens is that when we allow confidence to crowd out humility, our personal growth is hindered, and our professional growth is prematurely stunted as well.  Our path to prosperity hits a wall.  Our newfound confidence tells us that we are doing great and we get comfortable.  To me, this is tragic.  Humility is the single biggest factor in human development.  Humility opens our minds to receiving new information and new ideas.  It also allows old ideas and mindsets to be examined, questioned and discarded.  While the door of humility is open, we grow, both personally and in terms of our prosperity.  As confidence moves in, it slowly closes the door of humility and the growth is stifled.

     I think it would be wise for all of us to take another look at where we are in our lives.  Is this really where we thought we would end up?  Is this the prosperous and free life we always envisioned for ourselves? Are we living our dreams or enduring our nightmares instead?  Have we stopped making progress and settled for far less than we thought we would?

     If your life is not going as well as you had hoped it would, my advice to you is to try something else.  Dig deep and find that humility again.  Dust it off and open that door.  Decide where your dreams live and start learning about that path.  Get some books, take some classes, attend some seminars.

     If your job, your career, or your business is not providing you with the money, the freedom, and the lifestyle, you had hoped it would by this point in your life, my advice to you is to try something else.  I don’t mean to suggest that you abandon your confidence.  I simply suggest that you set it aside and give it a break for a little while so that you can absorb some new information and perhaps toss out some old stuff that is no longer working in your best interest.

     The truth is that the skill and confidence levels that got you to where you are now will not serve you as well at the next level.  Every level of personal development and prosperity require new types of thinking and new mindsets.  Each level has different rules and protocols to master.  If you have stalled, it is because you are trying to apply low-level thinking to a higher level and it will never work.

     In financial terms, the abilities it takes to earn an income of around $50,000 are woefully insufficient to earn over $100,000.  The abilities needed to earn $100,000 will not take you to $250,000 and so on.  At every level, the rules change.  The thinking has got to evolve.  The knowledge required is deeper and more nuanced.  To reach the next level, we need to embrace our humility and find out what the rules are for the next level and learn them and then implement them.  It is the only way to grow continually, and that is how we are designed.  When we stop growing, we start dying.



 Art Merrill is an entrepreneur and business owner who has spent forty plus years reading and digesting self-help and personal finance books. He lives just outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and has a wonderful wife, three amazing kids and a large extended 'tribe' that keeps both his house and his heart full at all times. He writes to share his experiences and knowledge with others and endeavors to help as many folks as he can because he wants others to enjoy the quality of life that he enjoys as life is too short for anything less.

  

Saturday, August 4, 2018

How to Encourage Reluctant Readers to Read More and Enjoy It

"I don't like to read." "Reading is boring." Reading is old school." "Reading takes too much time." "I'd rather watch the movie." I'm sure many of us have heard either these lines or something similar when attempting to encourage a reluctant reader to read. Oftentimes we will hear this from children; however, there is a large number of adults who express the same sentiments. This could be problematic for us as a country because reading is the foundation for learning. As self-service automation becomes more and more a part of our daily lives, the more critical the ability to read and process information quickly becomes. The only way to build our reading and comprehension skills is through the practice of reading and for our reluctant or non-readers, they are not getting this practice.

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center in March of 2018 titled Who Doesn't Read Books in America found that about a quarter of American adults (24%) say they haven't read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form. I'm sure we can safely make the leap that those who say they haven't read a book in the past year are those who do not find reading to be their activity of choice.

So, how do convince reluctant or non-readers that it really is in their best interest to read more? How do we help this segment of the population understand how critical reading is to everything we do today? How do we encourage those who would rather watch paint dry than reading, pick up a book and read it?

The good news is, everyone has at least one interest and is likely to have several. There is no topic that has not been written about either in a book or article form. In fact, there has not been a better time in our history in terms of accessing information. It is literally at our fingertips. For example, I love aviation and the thought of becoming a pilot and while I have not obtained my pilot's license yet, I continuously read books, blogs, and articles that I would read if I were an actual pilot. Aviation and piloting an aircraft interests me, so reading about it is not boring or arduous. I share this story to say that the first step is to get the reluctant reader to choose reading material about a subject that he/she is passionate about. Allow the reluctant reader to self-choose and not be forced, assigned or mandated to read something that he/she is not interested in. Internet search engines have done wonders for being able to read about any topic under the sun. Believe it or not, our mindsets have a lot to do with how we view reading. Why not make reading fun? Enjoyable?

Secondly, we must prioritize our time to include some time for reading each day. Reluctant readers can start with maybe ten minutes a day and work their way up to thirty and then sixty. The same way avid television watchers can sit and watch television for hours at a time, avid readers read many books for hours at a time. If you are an avid television watcher, would it be possible to trade one of the T.V. hours for reading about something you are passionate about or would like to know more about? Think about the long-term benefits of learning something new or increasing your vocabulary or bolstering your comprehension skills. Reading feeds into lifelong learning.

This is for the teachers and parents who may be reading this; Never assign reading as a punishment. By assigning reading as a punishment, we are sending the wrong message and signal. We do not want anyone to associate something negative (punishment is negative) with something we would like to see more of, as in this case, reading.

Once the reluctant reader has begun to see reading as something that is enjoyable, he/she should use down times such as waiting for appointments, relaxation after work, etc., on airplanes, trains, and buses as opportunities to get some reading in. Like anything else, reading can and must become a positive habit.

One final step for the reluctant or non-reader to do is to share what he/she has read either in conversation or instruction. It is said that the best way to learn something is to teach it, and can you imagine how proud a reluctant reader would be of him/herself after having taught someone else about a subject that he/she read about? Just as we get excited and tell others about how great a movie is, we must also get excited and tell others how great a book or article is. We must generate the same type of excitement that we do for movies, concerts athletic events and other entertainment about books.

In conclusion, I quote the What We Do and Why section from the Reading Is Fundamental website (www.rif.org) to help us better understand why this article matters:


There is a significant and cyclical literacy crisis facing America today and it begins with our children. Twenty-five million children in the U.S. cannot read proficiently.* RIF believes that together we can make a real difference and set our children on a path of growth and opportunity.

While 76% is a good number, I believe we can do even better. 76% is mediocre and mediocrity ought not to have its place in the United States of America. It is up to us who are in the 76% to encourage the 24%. We must all be lifelong learners and that begins by being lifelong readers.
Join me live each Saturday from 6 -9 a.m. Eastern time as I interview authors from around the world on my book talk radio show The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. The show can be heard by tuning in on gobrave.org and on FM radio 88.7 in the New York metropolitan area.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Help Us To Connect The Dots And See

A few weeks ago I came across A Great Work by Brian Courtney Wilson and the lyrics immediately caught my attention. The vocals and music are masterfully performed but it's the lyrics, particularly those that I am going to explode in this post that struck a chord (no pun intended) with me. I write this post 150 miles from where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta are entombed giving this post that much more significance for me. In fact, yesterday, July 26th, my daughter and me shared some bonding time as we took that 150 mile ride to Atlanta to visit the World of Coca-Cola, the Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum and the King Historic District. As I toured these locations, the words from Mr. Wilson's song kept playing over and over again in my mind and spirit. So I decided to provide my interpretation of a portion of the song that in my mind powerfully speaks to how our outlook and perspective ought to drive our behavior and aspirations. I'll place my interpretation in italics in parentheses under the bolded lyric lines.

So what should be considered as we proceed
(We must always be thinking, reflecting, planning and acting.)

Is that this work did not begin with you
(It's not about us.  We are not all of that and a bag of chips and the opportunities that we take for granted were not always here. Things were not always this way.)

Our mothers' mothers and fathers' fathers planted seeds when we were but the faint notion of a dream in their mind they hope for a harvest a legacy, a great work
(Our ancestors had faith that one day even when they knew it would not be them, that generations would come from them that would live free, produce, contribute and be recognized for their contributions. They knew within their spirits that one day offspring somewhere on future branches of their family trees would have opportunities that only God knew was coming. They knew that one day that future children spawned from them would indeed be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.)

So may your next step forward
(We must keep moving forward and not go backwards. Let's cut out all of this nonsense such as sagging pants; underachieving; settling for mediocrity or less; calling each other derogatory names and terms; acting as if we are crazy/stupid; Get out there and VOTE; etc. etc. etc.) 

Help us to connect the dots and see
(We have got to connect our history with our present and our future. We have got to understand the shoulders we stand on and the ancestors who have fought and died in order for us to be where we are today. We have got to connect the dots and see the connection between us and the people who gave their lives in order for us to have the opportunities that we are experiencing in this present time. We have got to connect the dots and see that we are from greatness and we are great.)

This picture of greatness
(We must visualize and then bring the vision to reality)

In fact I hear God say, that you are his workmanship, His masterpiece, created for such a time as this, for great works, a great, great, great work
(We must see ourselves as that cliche goes "God made me and God don't make no junk!" We must understand that we are on the face of the earth for this period of time to make the world a better place. We are here to make life better for others, our children and our children's children.We were created for whatever is taking place at this very moment. We are here because of all of the others who have gone before us. There is no reason for us not to be great.)

So go be great
(We have no excuses. Get out there and be nothing less than great.)

Don't get discouraged
(It's going to be frustrating, tiring, disappointing, hurtful and hard, but don't you dare give up.)

Go be great
(In the words of Nike, "Just Do It!)

Don't you get weary
(Even though you are going to be challenged, keep on going.)

Go be great
(Cannot repeat this enough)

Keep marching for justice
(Don't settle. In the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "The time is always right to do what is right.")

Keep pressing toward the mark
(Keep moving forward toward lofty goals. Keep your eyes on the prize and don't get distracted by foolishness.)

In this wonderful world
(No matter how bad or crazy it may seem, there is still hope. As long as there is life, there is hope. When all is said and done, we are truly blessed and must always be grateful for what we have not complaining about what we don't have. The world is wonderful place and there is no better time to be alive.)

I am inspired by A Great Work each time I hear it. I listen to these words repeatedly and they hit me as if I were hearing them for the first time each time I listen to the song. It is my hope that my interpretation will spark some thinking, reflection, debate, and ultimately action. It is my hope that we will all strive for greatness and stop settling for mediocrity or just any old thing done in any old kind of way.

Join me live each Saturday from 6-9 a.m. ET as I webstream around the world on gobrave.org and broadcast locally on FM radio in the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan area on WP88.7 FM. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @readingcircle01, thinkcritical01 and on Instagram @readingcircle01.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Are We Teaching Our Children The Difference Between Earning and Entitlement?

EARN: to receive as return for effort and especially for work done or services rendered

ENTITLE: to give a right to

Almost daily I witness children who seem to not know the difference between the two definitions which opens this post. I see behavior exhibited by children in schools, grocery stores, shopping malls, parks, churches, and just about anywhere else that you will find parents or caregivers with children that lead me to believe that either the children were never taught the difference or they didn't grasp the lesson. I see children throwing temper tantrums while well-meaning adults feebly attempt to explain why they are saying no or why the child is not going to get his/her way, only to acquiesce and ultimately give the child what he/she was throwing the tantrum about.  It baffles me that more parents do not realize that they are perpetuating the very behavior that they do not want every time they give in and allow the child to get what he/she wants as a result of the tantrum or inappropriate behavior. As parents, we send the wrong message to the child leading him/her to believe that the world owes them something and all they have to do to get it is to holler or cry the loudest; pout; roll on the floor; kick and scream; persistently whine and the list can go on. We reinforce this behavior every time we give in and not allow our "No" to remain "No."

There are two key words underlined and bolded in the definitions above that are the key to this post. Children must learn that they must earn whatever it is that they want in life and that for the most part, no one is going to just give them whatever they want just because they want it.  It is downright frustrating to watch this child-parent exchange and have to wonder who the parent is. We are setting our children up to fail in a society that is not going to give them what they want just because they holler, kick, curse and scream. Salaries are earned. Promotions are earned. Degrees are earned. Licenses are earned and so forth and so on. I hope you get the picture. Nothing is given and yet those with the sense of entitlement believe that it ought to be. They believe and have been taught to believe (by our response) that no effort on their part needs to happen and they are to still receive whatever it is that they are looking to receive. No effort on their part whatsoever. Just like that child in the grocery store at the check out line, it's "Give me, give me, give me."

Parents, our "No" must mean "No" and our children need to understand that our "No" means "No" and learn to cut the drama. If we continue down this path, it will not bode well for society as we will have a spoiled generation (if we don't already have one) of people who believe the world owes them something when in reality it does not. The blank writing tablet depicted in the photo with the heading above it which reads "Here is a comprehensive of everything you're entitled to and what the world owes you," says it best.  We must teach our children (and some adults) this or we are all going to suffer in the end. 

Would love to hear your thoughts or experiences with this in the comment section and I invite you to join me live each Saturday from 6 - 9 a.m. Eastern time as I webstream around the world on gobrave.org and broadcast locally in the metropolitan area on FM radio WP88.7 FM. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and/or @readingcircle01.



Monday, July 2, 2018

Want To Be A Rainmaker?

Just finished reading MAKE IT RAIN by Areva Martin, posted my 5 Star review on Amazon and Goodreads and decided to make it my book of the month for July in this blog (see sidebar section on the left).

I won't give you all of the details as I encourage you to get a copy for yourself, read it and add the strategies to your marketing/branding toolkit. As one who is looking to "make it rain!" I found the strategies and tactics outlined by Ms. Martin to be well thought out and actionable.

I already have begun using Ms. Martin's coaching for making it rain with my radio show The Reading Circle with Marc Medley, this blog, The Critical Thinker and my podcast The Marc Medley Show.  So if you are looking to take your brand up a notch or two like I am, I highly recommend MAKE IT RAIN.  I invite you to comment in the comment section of this post as well as listen to me live each Saturday from  6- 9 a.m. Eastern Time as I webstream around the world on gobrave.org and broadcast on FM radio in the northern New Jersey and Metropolitan New York areas on WP88.7 FM. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Where In The World Do We Find The Most People With Tattoos? Think You Know?

I was listening to the radio in my car on Friday morning (6/29/18) and a similar question to the title of this post was raised. I am paraphrasing but it went something like, which country on a per capita basis had the highest population sporting one or more tattoos? Callers called in guessing which country it might be in the hopes of winning whatever the offered prize was for the correct answer. I listened hoping that the answer would be given before I reached my destination and lo and behold it was. I was guessing in my mind and even thought maybe the United States might have had the highest based on what I see around me on a daily basis. I listened as the DJ's told caller after caller that he/she was wrong until finally one caller gave the answer of Italy and was told that she was correct. The DJ's proceeded to give the top three countries of which the U.S. placed third.  Alrighty, get ready to place this in your "I don't know why I need to know this" trivia file; the top three countries are (1) Italy-48%, (2) Sweden-47% and (3) the United States-46%.


I had been looking for an angle to post about tattoos and tattooing and this survey and radio show contest provided me with the opportunity. Tattoos are not my thing as I have no interest whatsoever in turning my body into a canvass; however, as the data suggests, there are many who do. In this arena, I say, to each his/her own. You won't be finding me with anything permanently inked on my body.

Being open minded I decided to look up the history of tattoos and tattooing. According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (and I cross-referenced it with other sources as I know in some instances Wikipedia may not be totally accurate, but in this case it is):
Tattooing has been practiced across the globe since at least Neolithic times, as evidenced by mummified preserved skin, ancient art and the archaeological record.[1] Both ancient art and archaeological finds of possible tattoo tools suggest tattooing was practiced by the Upper Paleolithic period in Europe. However, direct evidence for tattooing on mummified human skin extends only to the 4th millennium BC. The oldest discovery of tattooed human skin to date is found on the body of Ötzi the Iceman, dating to between 3370 and 3100 BC.[2] Other tattooed mummies have been recovered from at least 49 archaeological sites, including locations in Greenland, Alaska, Siberia, Mongolia, western China, Egypt, Sudan, the Philippines and the Andes.[3] These include Amunet, Priestess of the Goddess Hathor from ancient Egypt (c. 2134–1991 BC), multiple mummies from Siberia including the Pazyryk culture of Russia and from several cultures throughout Pre-Columbian South America.[2]
Other "Did You  Know?" facts from History of Tattoos  include:

  • The world record holder in the number of tattoos is Gregory Paul McLaren whose skin is 100% covered with tattoos. After him comes Tom Leppard born 1934. His skin is covered with tattoos “only” 99.9%.
  • Hepatitis was a big problem after the Second World War and many places banned tattooing. Some places didn't lift the ban until relatively recently.
  • The most effective way of tattoo removal today is laser removal. The laser breaks large pigment particles into smaller so a body can absorb them and rid of them in a natural way.
  • Ancient Greeks and Romans tattooed their slaves and criminals so they could be easier to identify if the escape. Chinese also tattooed their criminals.
  • If a tattoo ink has metals there is a rare chance that it will become hot during MRI tests.
  • George C. Reiger Jr has a special permission from Disney to have tattoos of their copyrighted material – namely Disney's characters. He has over 1,000 Disney tattoos, which includes all 101 Dalmatians.
  • Ancient Egypt practiced “medical tattooing” among other forms. They, for instance, had tattoos for treatment of chronic pelvic peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum).
  • Earliest tattoo inks were made of carbon and ash.
  • Today, at least one-fifth of adult United States has at least one tattoo.
  • For those that love tattoos but don't want one to last them forever, there are temporary tattoos applied with henna, ballpoint pen or as a water-soluble sticker.
So, for those of you who are tattooing for whatever reason, you are in good company. Nearly half of the United States population of consenting age has at least one or more tattoos. It's not for me but for those of you who love it, more power to you. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section of this blog or on Twitter @thinkcritical01 or @readingcircle01.

I invite you to join me live each Saturday from 6-9 a.m. Eastern time as I webstream around the world on gobrave.org and broadcast on FM radio in northern New Jersey and New York City on WP88.7 FM. 


Friday, June 29, 2018

Why Do We Only "Rest in Peace (R.I.P.)?"

LinkedIn post by Terrell Fure' - Sony Music Songwriter/Artist




The other day I was perusing my social media sites as I do on a daily basis and came across the question in the photo displayed to your left in a LinkedIn post by Sony Music Songwriter/Artist Terrell Fure'. The question leaped off of the screen at me because I've asked this same question for years and was glad to see that I do not think about this by myself. 

Seriously, think about what the question is asking. It's amazing how our final wish for the deceased is for him/her to rest in peace. In many instances, the deceased did anything but live in peace and yet we are wishing for him/her to rest in peace. Now, I'm not wishing anything bad on anyone who is deceased or alive for that matter, but the post does beg the right question. What is it that is stopping us from living in peace?

I write this in the wake of yet another deadly shooting; this time it was five killed and others wounded in a shooting at a Maryland newspaper, The Capital Gazette. As of this writing, there have been 154 mass shootings in the US so far in 2018.  So why is it that we can't seem to live in peace? Is it that hard to love our neighbors as ourselves or could that be the problem, too many of us don't love ourselves. We hate ourselves so much that it does not phase us to spew that same hatred onto others who have absolutely nothing to do with us. Most of the victims who are killed in these mass attacks have never met the shooter or attacker. The victims are in most cases innocent bystanders who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For many, it seems that they are just not happy unless chaos is going on(our President notwithstanding). They are not happy unless we are living in discord. I don't get it. Ironically, I'll bet all of those who sow disharmony at one point in their lives have wished for a loved one to "Rest in Peace."

There is a verse in the Bible that says "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.Maybe that's it! Maybe there are a significant number of people who don't want to be called "children of God."  There has to be a reason for us not being able to live in peace. Our families, communities, states, and countries would work so much better if we all indeed found a way to live in peace. Why wait until we are in our final resting places to have peace?

Maybe some of you readers out there can help me and Mr. Fure' out. If you think you have the answer, please leave a comment in the comment section of this blog. I also invite you to hear me live each Saturday from 6-9 a.m. ET as I web stream around the world on gobrave.org and locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.  Let's all make every effort we can to live in peace!