A Financial and Family Legacy

This month we’re focusing on leaving a legacy. Here is an overview of the month.

1. A Life Well-Lived. This month’s first week covered the importance of leaving a legacy of a life well-lived. We learned how our lives impact all those who follow us, and we introduced the topics we will review later in the month.

2. Principles to Live By. Two weeks ago we covered key principles to live by that will help you leave a legacy. These will be the foundations of a life that leaves an impact on others. The principles we live by are the basis for the kind of legacy we will leave behind. We also began our how-tos by looking at how to leave a relational legacy. All of life is based on relationships, and we choose what direction those relationships go. We can live our lives in such a way that when we are gone, people are impacted by the relational legacy we left behind.

3. The Importance of a Spiritual Legacy and an Impact Legacy. Last week we covered both how to leave a spiritual legacy as well as how to leave an “impact legacy.” The core of who we are as individuals is spiritual. We were created with the intention of relating to God through our spiritual life. One of the greatest gifts we can leave behind is a spiritual example and legacy. We also talked about how to leave a life legacy that impacts people. There are those who live on this earth and then just disappear, leaving little more than a trace. And then there are others who, through their legacy, live on in others for years to come. We talked about how to be the latter.

4. Financial Legacy. This week we will look at leaving a business legacy, a financial legacy and a family legacy. We will see how the businesses we operate have a deeper impact than we might have imagined. We will talk about establishing a strong financial base that will provide for others long term. We will also look at one of the most important aspects of legacy, those we touch most deeply: our family.

So let’s talk about the topics for this week!

Leaving a Financial Legacy

Our finances are an integral part of our lives. They play a part of each and every day. Whether we are earning, purchasing or planning, we deal with our finances on some level virtually every day. What our financial estate becomes, just like every area of our lives, is a product of the choices we make. If we make good choices, we will go in the right direction. If we make poor choices, we will end up leaving a financial legacy of poverty and lack.

But one of the realities we deal with as humans is that while we can make all of the right decisions and everything we touch may turn to gold, there will come a day when our money will no longer be ours. As the old saying goes, “You can’t take it with you.” So, after we have passed away, we not only leave our money behind, we will also leave a financial legacy.

The financial legacy you leave can be either positive, just as all of the legacies we have looked at this month, or negative. The choice is yours. You decide what kind of legacy you leave as it relates to your finances. The choice is yours.

To help you think through the issues surrounding a great financial legacy, here are some thoughts for you to consider:

Have a Plan. Just as in every area of life, we must have a plan—a plan for earning, saving, investing, giving, tax reduction, retirement and where our money will go when we are gone. By doing so, you will go much further and leave a great example for those around you.

Have a Goal. Goals keep us moving in the right direction. They give us something to shoot for. They keep us moving in a forward direction. They help us measure progress and stay motivated. When you have goals you will reach greater heights and leave an inspiring example for others.

Have an Advisor. If you go to the gym to work out to maximize your health, you get a personal trainer. If you want your car to operate at its best, you take it to a mechanic. If you want to stay healthy, you go to the doctor. If you want to grow spiritually, you seek the help of a minister or church. If you want to be emotionally healthy, you visit a counselor. It makes perfect sense then that if you want to be successful financially, you need to have an advisor. Find one you are comfortable with and who will understand what you want out of life, someone who understands and appreciates your values.

Invest. It is better to gain profits than wages. Investments provide us with the opportunity to reap profits. You must risk in order to gain the reward. You must place your capital at risk in order to gain the financial reward. That is capitalism at its core. Those who start the businesses and place their capital at risk will earn more than those who they hire to run the machines in the factories. Invest in your own business or in another person’s business through the financial markets.

Stay Out of Debt. Debt is nothing less than a killer. Debt is the exact opposite of investment. When you invest, you get the principle back and then some. When you borrow, you give the principle and then some. Remember the old Proverb that says “the borrower shall be the servant of the lender.” True indeed. It is better to be the lender than a spender.

Tithe and Be Generous. Make it a goal to give away a percentage of your income to your church, the less fortunate or a charity that you believe in. Believe me, not only will you feel good about it, but so will they. Generosity does wonders for both parties involved. It helps you keep the power of money in check, and it helps them by providing much-needed funds to carry out their mission. Over your lifetime, if you are methodical about this, you will be able to do a tremendous amount of good in the world.

Enjoy It Now. Save enough money now to ensure your security and the security of your loved ones, but also enjoy your wealth now! Take that trip. Buy that second home. Give that gift to a loved one. Money is a tool to provide for us on two levels: that which we need and that which we desire. When you have the needs covered, spend some on what you desire. If you plan on leaving your wealth to your children when you die, give them some now so that you can help them understand what to do with it, and then you can experience the joy of watching them use it and enjoy it themselves.

Teach Your Children About Money. One of the best things we can do is to teach our children about money. Teach them the principles. Teach them to work hard and smart and to increase their earning power. Teach them to save and invest. Teach them to be generous. This is one way that you can pass on a great understanding of finances and create a great deal of freedom in their lives.

Keep Your Family Up to Speed on Your Finances. Of course, our finances are our own business, but, ultimately, our finances become our family’s business. It is important for us to make sure that our family is aware of where we are with our finances. This is particularly true with our spouse. Too many men have died prematurely and left wives who didn’t know much about where the money came from, where it went or how it was invested. And as we age, it is important for our children to know more about our finances so that they can help us take care of them and plan for their future after we are gone. Believe it or not, this should take place earlier rather than later.

Diversify. “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket,” they say. Why? Because if that basket falls, all your eggs will be broken—and nobody likes broken eggs! Have some savings that you can get to quickly. Most financial advisors recommend six to 12 months of living expenses. Put funds in the safe, long-term investments, perhaps a two- to five-year certificate of deposit.

Invest Some in the Equity Markets. This is most easily done through mutual funds (and that gives you diversity as well as an alternative to buying a single stock). Invest in real estate. Whatever you do, cover your security first and then move into investments that can provide greater and greater profits. The key is to make sure that if one area goes south, you can recover because of the other areas you have invested in.

Use Insurance. The right kinds of insurance are part of your investment expenditures. You can use insurance to protect your life and property—and it is smart to do so. If you make $100,000 a year at age 35 and have a spouse and three children, what will happen to them if you were to die suddenly? An investment is an expenditure that will provide returns in due time. For instance, a healthy 35-year-old can get more than $1 million in life insurance for less than $100 a month. It is a wise decision to provide for your family in case of an emergency. Either doing so or not doing so will certainly leave a legacy.

Utilize Legal Entities and Structures to Protect Your Wealth. If the government allows you to protect it using a legal structure, by all means, do so. If you can take a tax deduction, by all means, do so. As long as you always maintain your integrity and stay well within the law, use every legal opportunity you can to keep your money. You worked for it—keep as much of it for yourself and your loved ones as possible! Consult a financial advisor, such as an accountant or lawyer for the best advice.

Use Your Wealth to Bless Others, Not Manipulate Them. Money is a tool that should be used for good. The more money we have, the more we can use that tool to help others. Unfortunately, many people use their wealth to manipulate others. I truly believe that a successful person is the person who uses their money to help and bless others in a generous way. The person of integrity does not seek to use his or her money to use, coerce or manipulate others.

These ideas are designed to give you some thoughts on ways you can live your life and use your money in such a way that you do good with your money in this life. Finances are powerful. Money can be used to do many incredible things. It can also be used to destroy. The key is this: Which way is your money being used? The answer to that question will go a long way in determining what kind of financial legacy you leave behind.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Supplemental Notes

The family is the first and last group of people most of us spend time with on this earth. It has an incredible power to shape us. That is why it is so important that we proactively decide what our family legacy will be and then work to build it. The ideas below are designed to help you do just that!

Top seven tips for leaving a fantastic family legacy:

1. Forgive. We start with forgiveness because it is probably the most important principle for families. Those who are closest to you are the most likely to hurt you. It is the law of close proximity. If you are close enough to another person long enough, they will do something to hurt or offend you. Then you have the option to forgive or hold on to the offense. If we are to have successful families whose success transcends generations, we will need to fully implement the act of forgiveness.

2. Spend time with your family—as a group and individually. It takes time to build cohesiveness. Spend time with your family as a whole and individually. It is important to give time to the building of our families. Even 15 minutes, done each day, will create better relationships.

3. Create family memories. Do activities together that will be memorable, and take pictures and record video. Keep journals and scrapbooks of the events. Make sure that you remember what good things have happened in your past together. Life goes by quickly, children grow up and memories fade—unless you have pictures! Do fun things and make sure you keep those memories alive.

4. Don’t let distance separate you. Kids grow up and move away—that happens. But today there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for not staying in touch. Telephone rates are so low, you should be able to talk to your long-distance relatives at least once a week, if not more often. E-mail or texts are even better for “shooting off” the latest family news. We live in an unprecedented age of communication. The only reason someone wouldn’t communicate today is because they don’t want to. If you want to build a family legacy, pick up the phone and call.

5. Laugh together. It seems that the family that laughs together stays together. There is nothing like fun to bring a family together. Rent funny movies, go to plays, remember the fun times at family gatherings, and laugh at the past (but not at any one person’s expense). Laughing is good for the soul—the individual and the family. Laugh with your family, and watch the bonds grow deep.

6. Say “I love you” often. You have heard the old joke where the old woman says to her old husband, “Honey, it’s been 50 years since you told me you loved me.” The old man replies, “I said it at the wedding, and if anything ever changes, I’ll let you know.” Well, folks, that doesn’t cut it. We need to hear that others love us, and they need to hear it from us. And it becomes even more powerful if our actions back up our words. Don’t let someone in your family wonder if you love them—tell them!

7. Carpe familia—seize the family! You have heard of carpe diem—seize the day. Well, it is time for us to seize our families and all of the opportunities that they have. We must begin to see the possibilities of our families and seize the opportunities for greatness that each family has. Yes, our families can be great—and get even greater—if we set our minds on developing a family legacy. Have you “seized the family”? If not, make that commitment. Don’t let your family fall apart! Get it going and growing into greatness!

Your family represents the most powerful force for shaping and molding your life and the lives of each member. When we proactively take hold of all that they can be by using these principles, we will see those families do great things and leave wonderful legacies.

Get started—it is never too late!

The Importance of a Spiritual Legacy and an Impact Legacy

Success! You’re on the list.

3. The Importance of a Spiritual Legacy and an Impact Legacy. This week I will cover both how to leave a spiritual legacy as well as how to leave an “impact legacy.” The core of who we are as individuals is spiritual. We were created with the intention of relating to God through our spiritual life. One of the greatest gifts we can leave behind is a spiritual example and legacy. I will also talk about how to leave a life legacy that impacts people. There are those who live on this earth and then just disappear, leaving little more than a trace. And then there are others who, through their legacy, live on in others for years to come.

4. Financial Legacy. In Week Four, I will look at leaving a business legacy, a financial legacy and a family legacy. We will see how the businesses we operate have a deeper impact than we might have imagined. I will talk about establishing a strong financial base that will provide for others long term. I will also look at one of the most important aspects of legacy, those we touch most deeply: our family.

So let’s talk about the topics for this week!

Leaving a Spiritual Legacy

As I said earlier, I will talk about a financial legacy next week—something that many people strive for and that is indeed important. But even more important, and in fact more important in my mind, is a spiritual legacy.

What is a spiritual legacy? It is the kind of spiritual life you instill in your children, your spouse, friends, co-workers and relatives. It is also the example you set for them to follow.

As many of you are aware after reading just a portion of my writings, or from listening to my audio programs, the profound impact that my own parents had on me is obvious. And the most important legacy they left for me was a spiritual legacy—my faith.

We live in a world that focuses on the material. Of course, that is where we live and the material world is important. But even more important is our spiritual world. The fact is, we are going to spend a lot more time in our spiritual existence than we are in our temporal home on this earth. That idea alone should motivate us to spend more energy on our spiritual lives and the legacy we leave for others.

Let’s take some time this week to give some thought and reflection on how to leave a dynamic spiritual legacy, but one brief note before we do. I am writing this from the perspective of my own faith, Christianity. I recognize and appreciate those of you who may not share my faith. I simply ask that if I use language in the following paragraphs that is specific to Christianity, that you would take the principles and the philosophy and apply it to your specific situation.

Here are some principles for leaving a spiritual legacy:

1. Understand that you are a spiritual person. You have a body, yes. You also have a mind, will and emotions. You can’t see them, but they are there. You also have a spiritual core—a soul, if you will, that is every bit as much a part of you as your left arm is. You may not see it, and society may not place a high value on it, but you are—at your core—a spiritual person as much as you are a physical person. In fact, when your physical body dies, your spiritual “body” will live on. Because of this, commit to a dynamic spiritual life yourself.

2. Commit time and energy to developing your spiritual self. To be a wealthy person, you must commit time and energy to making money and wise investments. To be a healthy person, you must commit time and energy to exercising and eating right. To be an intelligent person, you must commit time and energy to learning, memorizing and studying. To be a spiritual person, you must commit time and energy to developing your spiritual person through spiritual disciplines. If you don’t commit to this, and if you don’t discipline yourself the same way you would in other areas of life, you will not achieve growth in your spiritual life.

3. Study the Scriptures and internalize them. The wealth of knowledge that I have found in the Bible is incalculable. It is immeasurable, and it is invaluable. So much of my philosophies for life, work and business have come from a foundation the Bible and its teachings have provided. My parents taught me at an early age to study the Bible and to internalize it through memorizing both chapter and verse, as well as the concepts they contained. Words cannot describe how important that has been in my life. If you want to become financially wise, you would read The Wall Street Journal and books on investing so you can gain knowledge. If you want spiritual knowledge, you must study the Scriptures. Don’t just study them, though—make them a part of who you are.

4. Follow the Golden Rule. Perhaps the most well-known concept from the Bible is the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It seems obvious to me that the reason it is so well-known is because it is so applicable. It is something that anyone can hold up as a goal for their life and conduct. And in doing so, it will make you a more spiritual person because it will cause you to value people more and be more concerned for their needs.

5. Be a “pray-er” as well as a doer. There is an old saying that you should pray like it depends on God and act like it depends on you. That is good advice, and we would do well to take heed of it. Unfortunately, I think many people ignore what I view to be a tremendous source of strength: prayer. I do not mean elaborate prayers. I mean straight and simple reflection and communication with God. It is powerful when you are doing the best you can and then let God take care of the rest.

6. Be involved in a community of faith. One of the things I hear when I talk with people is the complaint that churches are full of hypocrites. Well, I know that people are not perfect. I know that people do things they shouldn’t, even in the name of God. But I also know that there are millions of good-willed and good-hearted people in the world who are a part of a local community of faith and who can potentially bring a great deal of good to you if you had a relationship with them. When you find the right one—and it may take some looking—you will benefit by belonging to a community of faith.

7. Keep an eternal perspective. Sometimes people take life too seriously. They forget that the day will come when it will be time to pack up all the marbles, hand them to the person who comes after them and go home. We would do well to remember that this life is short. Yes, it is important—very important—but it is also temporal. It isn’t going to last. The only thing that lasts is the legacy that you create, develop and leave for those who come after you.

8. Take your children to church.  Zig Ziglar says when asked why parents should take their children to church: “Parents should take their children to church for the same reason they should make them eat broccoli—because it’s good for them!” I truly believe that a good moral, religious and spiritual foundation that teaches the concepts of the Bible and how to have a relationship with God are absolutely essential for the human life, especially if you take a look around at what is going on in the world today—more now than ever before. Yes, parents are the primary instructors of their children, but involvement in a good church will provide a tremendous support system.

9. Live out what you know to be true spiritually. You have heard the word before—hypocrite. Essentially a hypocrite is one who says they believe one thing but then does another. The world would be better off with fewer hypocrites. One of the goals in leaving a spiritual legacy is that we should live in such a way that we are not hypocritical. We act according to what we say we believe. Yes, we all make mistakes—that is part of being human—but there is a big difference between making a one-time mistake and lifestyle patterns that conflict with what you say you believe. If you want people to take your spiritual legacy seriously, then this is an issue to settle in your life.

10. Love others. In all things, act in love. If you can’t say that what you are doing, or saying, or even thinking, falls under the category of love, then don’t do it. The Bible says, “God is Love.” If God is described that way, then we would do well to strive to emulate Him and live the kind of lives that are characterized by love.

Folks, you will leave a legacy of some sort. The powerful thought is that we get to choose what kind it will be. Take some time this week to think through what kind of spiritual legacy you will leave behind. Will people be better off spiritually by your actions, your words, your very life? Let’s all make it a goal that the people we come in contact with will indeed.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Supplemental Notes

In order to help you reflect upon this week’s lesson, I want to ask you a question: What in the world are you doing?

Here is the typical life—typical, though not everybody does it this way. But, for the most part, people’s lives generally go something like this:

You’re born.
You eat and sleep.
You play with toys.
You go to school.
You play little league.
You go to school.
You learn to drive.
You go to school.
You leave high school.
You go to more school, but you pay for it now.
You get a job.
You get married.
You buy a house.
You have kids.
You watch your kids eat, sleep, play and go to school.
You work, work and work.
You retire.
You die.

That’s the basic life, isn’t it? I know there is more to it, but that is about it for most people.

Here is that question again: What in the world are you doing?

What are you doing besides the typical “enjoying yourself while you are waiting to die” scenario? What kind of impact are you making?

What I believe sets the successful apart is that they don’t just live the average life. They don’t just pass time. They make an impact. They have something compelling in their life that drives them, something that gives them an answer when they are asked the question: What in the world are you doing?

I’m helping children.
I’m creating a business that supports many families.
I lead a church.
I am defending our liberties.
I am raising great children.
I’m teaching others to improve their lives.
I help people have fun.
I create memories for people.

In other words, successful people always come down to this:

I make an impact and help other people by (fill in your purpose here).

What in the world are you doing?

If you want to be successful, you need to be able to answer that by describing how you help others. Because if you aren’t helping others—if you aren’t making an impact—you are just taking up space, eating food and waiting to die.

Here’s the question for you to answer this week and what to do with your answer: What in the world are you doing?

If you know, then you are good to go—live it and make an impact!

If you don’t know, then maybe you need to reflect on what you are doing, what your life is about, and how you can explode the mundane bubble you may be living in.

The world needs impact makers—so live to be one!

Principles For Leaving A Legacy

Part Two—Principles for Leaving a Legacy

This month I focus on leaving a legacy. Here is an overview of the month.

1. A Life Well-Lived. This month’s first week covered the importance of leaving a legacy of a life well-lived. We learned how our lives impact all those who follow us, and I introduced the topics to you that I will review later in the month.

2. Principles to Live By. Today we will cover key principles to live by that will help you leave a legacy. These will be the foundations of a life that leaves an impact on others. The principles I live by are the basis for the kind of legacy I will leave behind. I will also begin our how-tos by looking at how to leave a relational legacy. All of life is based on relationships, and we choose what direction those relationships go. We can live our lives in such a way that when we are gone, people are impacted by the relational legacy we left behind.

3. The Importance of a Spiritual Legacy and an Impact Legacy. Week Three I will cover both how to leave a spiritual legacy as well as how to leave an “impact legacy.” The core of who we are as individuals is spiritual. We were created with the intention of relating to God through our spiritual life. One of the greatest gifts we can leave behind is a spiritual example and legacy. I will also talk about how to leave a life legacy that impacts people. There are those who live on this earth and then just disappear, leaving little more than a trace. And then there are others who, through their legacy, live on in others for years to come. I will talk about how to be the latter.

4. Financial Legacy. In Week Four, I will look at leaving a business legacy, a financial legacy and a family legacy. I will see how the businesses we operate have a deeper impact than I might have imagined. I will talk about establishing a strong financial base that will provide for others long term. I will also look at one of the most important aspects of legacy, those we touch most deeply: our family.

So let’s talk about this week’s topics!

Leaving a Legacy—Principles to Live By N.J.W Blog

You know me. I guess you can say that I am a philosopher. I love principles. Yes, actions are great, and I talk about them regularly, but the important stuff is what lies underneath—the principles.

Here are what I consider to be the principles that we must commit to if we are to leave the legacy we desire:

1. Life is best lived in service to others. This doesn’t mean that we do not strive for the best for ourselves. It does mean, however, that in all things we serve other people, including our family, co-workers and friends.

2. Consider others’ interests as important as your own. Much of the world suffers simply because people consider only their own interests. People are looking out for No. 1, but the way to leave a legacy is to also look out for others.

3. Love your neighbor, even if you don’t like him. It is interesting that Jesus told us to love others but never tells us to like them. Liking people has to do with emotions. Loving people has to do with actions. And what you will find is that when you love people and do good by them, you will more often than not begin to like them.

4. Maintain integrity at all costs. There are very few things you take to the grave with you. The No. 1 thing is your reputation and good name. When people remember you, you want them to think, “She was the most honest person I knew. What integrity.” There are always going to be temptations to cut corners and break your integrity. Do not do it. Do what is right all of the time, no matter what the cost.

5. You must risk in order to gain. In just about every area of life, you must risk in order to gain the reward. In love, you must risk rejection in order to ask that person out for the first time. In investing, you must place your capital at risk in the market in order to receive the prize of a growing bank account. When we risk, we gain. And when we gain, we have more to leave for others.

6. You reap what you sow. In fact, you always reap more than you sow—you plant a seed and reap a bushel. What you give you get. What you put into the ground then grows out of the ground. If you give love, you will receive love. If you give time, you will gain time. It is one of the truest laws of the universe. Decide what you want out of life, and then begin to sow it.

7. Hard work is never a waste. No one will say, “It is too bad he was such a good, hard worker.” But if you aren’t, they will surely say, “It’s too bad he was so lazy—he could have been so much more!” Hard work will leave a grand legacy. Give it your all on your trip around the earth. You will do a lot of good and leave a terrific legacy.

8. Don’t give up when you fail. Imagine what legacies would have never existed if someone had given up. How many thriving businesses would have been shut down if they quit at their first failure? Everyone fails—it is a fact of life. But those who succeed are those who do not give up when they fail. They keep going and build a successful life—and a legacy.

9. Don’t ever stop in your pursuit of a legacy. Many people have accomplished tremendous things later on in life. There is never a time to stop in your pursuit of a legacy. Sometimes older people will say, “I am 65. I’ll never change.” That won’t build a great life! No, there is always time to do more and achieve more, to help more and serve more, to teach more and to learn more. Keep going and growing that legacy!

These are core principles to live by if you want to become the kind of person who leaves a lasting legacy.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

-Nick James

Supplemental Notes

Relationships are at the very core of our existence here, and they’re something we deal with every day of our lives and on every level of our lives. We have very superficial relationships with many people, such as merchants we may meet as we go about our lives, and relationships that we consider intimate, like the ones we experience with our immediate family and spouses.

Relationships provide us with both the most positive as well as the most negative experiences in our lives. There are those who, though they may never achieve fame or fortune in this world, will be remembered very highly by all who came in contact with them. Their funerals will overflow with people they have touched.

The pain and joy that can surface as children remember their deceased parents is determined by the lives those parents lived and how well they maintained relationships with their children.

What it all comes down to is the ability to maintain healthy relationships.

Here are some key components of establishing relationships that will allow you to leave a fantastic relational legacy.

Be Purposeful. People are busy and time flies. Put these two together, and you have a recipe for disaster in the relationship department. Pretty soon, you and your best friends have had months go by between times spent together. In order to have quality relationships, we have to be purposeful.

This is especially true with couples, and even more so for couples with small children. They need to be very purposeful in making sure they spend quality time together communicating and enjoying one another.

Be Proactive. This is the opposite of reactive. Reactive is when your spouse says, “We never spend any time together,” and you respond by saying, “OK, we will this week.” It would be to sit down at the beginning of each month or week and schedule the time, or better yet, have a weekly “date night.” The key is to take control and schedule your relationships. Otherwise, they will get away from you.

Be Disciplined. Yes, it takes discipline to regularly invest in maintaining healthy relationships. This means the monthly lunch with a friend. It means the yearly hunting trip with friends from high school. It means cutting out of work early to go to your child’s game. It means disciplining yourself to work harder during the day in order to leave at a set time so you can eat dinner with your family. All of these are acts of discipline. Just as we have to discipline ourselves in other areas of our lives—like exercising for health or investing for wealth—we have to discipline ourselves into actions that will produce strong and healthy relationships.

Value People Above Possessions, Schedules and Achievements. The sooner we realize that we leave behind all of our stuff when we die, the sooner we will be able to focus on that which matters most: relationships. Don’t get us wrong, though. We are not saying that we shouldn’t do our best to become successful financially or that we shouldn’t enjoy material possessions. What we are saying is that should be secondary to healthy relationships. We can’t imagine someone on their deathbed saying, “I wish I would have left an estate of $10 million instead of $5 million.” No, people get to the ends of their lives and wish they would have invested more in their relationships.

Be Loving. We don’t mean to be guided by emotional feelings of “love.” Feelings come and go. This is what we mean when we say loving: to always act in such a way as to do what is best for the other person. Love is not feelings, but actions. When we say that we love someone, we mean that we are committed to their best interests. If we are lucky, those commitments are coupled with strong emotional bonds as well.

Be Forgiving. The fact is this: Where there are people, mistakes will be made. We don’t care if you are the nicest guy on earth (or married to him), you will have some breakdowns in your relationship on occasion. That is the nature of being human. Other people will fail you, and you will fail people.

And when this happens, we must face a decision: Will we let the relationship remain broken or will we learn to forgive? An analogy might be in order. A relationship is like building a house. It has to have a strong foundation. That is where you start. Then it must be built step by step until it is finished. During the building process, there may be times when a beam falls or the 2-by-4-inch wood studs break. The builder has a decision to make. Will he repair the building or let it go? If he chooses to let it go, the house will be weak and eventually fall into disrepair. Unfortunately, too many people let their relationships break and do not repair them by practicing forgiveness. People who leave successful relationships behind them practice the art of forgiveness.

Follow the Golden Rule. The golden rule of life is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” What is most interesting about this is that Christ was the first religious leader to say this in a positive way. Before Jesus, other leaders had said, “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.” Relationships are about being proactive and doing for others.

When we wake up each day with the goal to follow the Golden Rule and do good in people’s lives, we set ourselves on a course that will allow us to build a strong relational legacy.

Think of how you want to be remembered, and then live in such a way that you will be. If you want to be remembered as kind, then be kind. If you want to be remembered as strong, then be strong. If you want to be remembered as friendly, then be friendly. If you want to be remembered as forgiving and patient, then be forgiving and patient. What you do and how you act will add up to how you will be remembered.

It is possible to leave a wonderful relational legacy. If you follow the principles above, you will surely do so.

The Importance Of Leaving A Legacy

Success! You’re on the list.

Let’s overview the month as I focus on leaving a legacy.

1. A Life Well-Lived. This month’s first week I will cover the importance of leaving a legacy of a life well-lived. I will see how our lives impact all those who follow us. I will also introduce the topics we will review later in the month.

2. Principles to Live By. In Week Two, I will cover key principles to live by that will help you leave a legacy. These will be the foundations of a life that leaves an impact on others. The principles I live by are the basis for the kind of legacy I will leave behind. I will also begin our how-tos by looking at how to leave a relational legacy. All of life is based on relationships, and we choose what direction those relationships go. We can live our lives in such a way that when we are gone, people are impacted by the relational legacy we left behind.

3. The Importance of a Spiritual Legacy and an Impact Legacy. Week Three I will cover both how to leave a spiritual legacy as well as how to leave an “impact legacy.” The core of who we are as individuals is spiritual. We were created with the intention of relating to God through our spiritual life. One of the greatest gifts we can leave behind is a spiritual example and legacy. We will also talk about how to leave a life legacy that impacts people. There are those who live on this earth and then just disappear, leaving little more than a trace. And then there are others who, through their legacy, live on in others for years to come. We will talk about how to be the latter.

4. Financial Legacy. In Week Four, we will look at leaving a business legacy, a financial legacy and a family legacy. We will see how the businesses we operate have a deeper impact than we might have imagined. We will talk about establishing a strong financial base that will provide for others long term. We will also look at one of the most important aspects of legacy, those we touch most deeply: our family.

So, let’s talk about the topics for this week!

You know, I have had an amazing life. I have traveled the world. I have shared my heart with so many wonderful people. I have been fortunate enough to make a great living and enjoy the fruit of my work. I have met thousands of people who are dedicated to personal development and self-growth. I have made it my life’s pursuit to teach others the philosophies and actions that would help them achieve greatness and personal fulfillment in their own lives. Forty years ago, it felt like it would never end. Today, I still imagine I have many years left, but I am also more acutely aware than ever that there is much less time left than before.

Being aware of this has made me even more clear about my goal of living well and teaching others to do the same. Our one-year plan for success is designed to help others achieve all of their dreams and is part of one of the legacies I want to leave behind.

Leaving a legacy for others to follow is part of what drives me. I followed others who went before me; they left a legacy for me. Now, I am making sure that those who come after me will have a trail to follow as well. You see, leaving a legacy is important.

Think about those who left a legacy for us to follow and for you specifically:

—Your parents
—Your grandparents
—Your aunts and uncles
—Your schoolteachers
—Your coaches
—Your neighbors where you grew up

For those of us in America.

The United States’ founding fathers, who had a dream of a place of self-determination.

Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who saw us through the Great Depression.

The many men and women who defended our liberties through the wars of the 20th century so that we can live in freedom.

John F. Kennedy, who called us to explore space and set us on course to have a man walk on the moon.

Martin Luther King Jr., who left us a legacy to pursue the dream of racial equality.

There are literally thousands of men and women who lived in a way that affects our lives today.

And, yes, the list goes on from there as well. These are the people we knew, the people we lived with and who shaped us deeply, for better and for worse in some cases.

You see, a legacy can be anywhere on the continuum, from very bad to very good—it all depends on how we live our lives.

How we live our lives is critically important. This month, I want to challenge you to take a look at how you live. Challenge you to think deeply about the major areas of your life where you can and should leave a lasting legacy.

Why is leaving a legacy important? Here are a few reasons:

1. The legacy we leave is part of the ongoing foundation of life. Those who came before, leave us the world we live in. Those who come after will have only what we leave them. We are stewards of this world, and we have a calling on our lives to leave it better than how we found it, even if it seems like only a small part.

2. Legacies have raw power for good and for bad. There are people who have changed the world for good, people who have opened up new worlds for millions of others, people who have spurred others on to new heights. And, conversely, there are people who have caused massive destruction for countless millions, people who left a wake of pain behind them wherever they went. There are parents who have blessed their children with greatness and parents who have ruined their children’s fragile minds and hearts. What we do affects others. Our lives have the power to create good or purvey evil. It is important that we choose to do good.

3. It is an act of responsibility to leave a legacy. Because of the power of our lives and the legacies we leave, it is a great responsibility to choose to leave a positive legacy. All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine. I truly believe that part of what makes us good and honorable people is having a foundational part of our lives based on the goal of leaving a legacy.

4. Purposefully leaving a legacy for others breaks the downward pull of selfishness that can be inherent in us all. When we strive to leave a legacy, we are acting with a selflessness that can only be good for us. Yes, I suppose someone could work hard to earn money so that when he or she dies a building is named after them, but that is not the kind of legacy we are talking about. We are talking about legacies that make life better for those who come after us, not about our own fame or recognition, but about helping others. After all, we won’t be around to watch our legacy. To build that which will last beyond us is selfless, and living with that in mind breaks the power of selfishness that tries so desperately to en-grain itself in our lives.

5. It also keeps us focused on the big picture. Legacy building is part of the “big picture.” It keeps us focused on the long term and gives us values that we can judge our actions by. When we are acting based on selfishness, personal expediency and the like, we are focusing on the “small picture”—whatever is pragmatic right now. When we are building a life that will give for many years, we are thinking “big picture.” Ask yourself: How does this action affect my overall goals? How will this affect people in the years to come?

Yes, your legacy is very important. Take this final month to reflect on how you are going to use the lessons, information and skills from the first 11 months to build a life that leaves a tremendous legacy!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

-Nick James

Supplemental Notes

If you are going to leave a legacy that impacts people, there is something that you need to come to grips with: You are going to die.

What? What kind of motivational tool is that? Real inspiring!

Actually, it is. Our mortality may perhaps be the ultimate inspiration and motivation! If we lived on this earth eternally, we could be procrastinators extraordinaire! We would never have to get anything done because tomorrow would always be an option. But, alas, we pass on, and all we leave are the memories and the lives of others we affected while we were here. Sound gloomy? In actuality, it is exciting! You see, this gives us purpose—and a deadline (pun intended).

We can choose how we will live on in the hearts and memories of others. We do this by purposing to live now in a way that makes change happen not only within us, but also in those around us.

What kind of legacy will you leave? How will your family and friends remember you? How will you leave your descendants in the following areas? Give some thought to them and make some changes. In doing so, you will begin to lock in your legacy.

Following are some areas that will be covered in detail in the final three weeks. These topics are extremely important—maybe all-important. Our intention in the following is to spur you to think—really think—about how you can leave a legacy, and to whet your appetite for the how-tos coming in the next few weeks.

Have you ever stepped back and asked yourself how you treat other people and how that affects them emotionally? If you have children, are you raising emotionally healthy kids who are both independent as well as interdependent? If married, are you helping your spouse grow emotionally? Give this some serious thought.

The “God question” can be most important. People sometimes say that they are just going to let their kids “figure it out on their own.” These same people will show them how to shoot a basketball, trade stocks and build a tree house, all simply temporal issues, but then leave the answers to the most important question up in the air! Now, we are not advocating cramming anything down their throats, but what we are advising is to just take the time to help them find their way. Are you helping and encouraging those around you find their spiritual life? Are you living an authentic spiritual life that will be your legacy? Give some serious thought to this.

Now, I know what you are thinking: “I can’t change my genes. We got what we got, and we have to live with it.” To a certain extent, this is true. What I am talking about, though, is being examples of taking our physical health seriously. The statistics prove that your kids are likely to do whatever bad habits you have as well. Why? Because you are their example. Give this some serious thought.

There are two primary ways you can leave a financial legacy. First, teach your loved ones about how to handle money (some of you may need to learn yourself first). There are just so many good books on the subject that there is no reason for not knowing how to handle money. Rich Dad Poor Dad is a good book to start with, or perhaps The Millionaire Next Door. These will teach you the basics. Second, you can leave an inheritance. Now, let us be clear on this. This does not have to be after you die. In fact, the more you have, the more you ought to give away while you are alive. Let’s face it: The older you get, the less need you have for money once the basics are taken care of. Give your financial inheritance some serious thought.

What kind of legacy will you leave in regard to how you interact relationally with people you know? When people look at how you interact with others, will they be better off if they develop the same relational habits? Will your legacy be one of love, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and forgiveness? Give the idea of influencing others relationally some serious thought.

In this day of the People magazine and TMZ mentality, we need people who will challenge us to think deeper. Are you doing anything that will challenge your sphere of influence to intellectual gains? Will those left after you are gone say that you made them think in ways they hadn’t before, that you challenged them to be smarter? Give this issue some serious thought.

Functionally? Yep. It’s a catchall word. It is how you function. How will those you influence actually function? To a great degree, this is how you function. Are you well-rounded? Are you balanced? Do you keep the main things the main things? Is your life functioning well? Make it your goal to live a balanced, functional life so that you can leave a legacy of such. Give your life function some serious thought.

We ended each paragraph with a challenge to think seriously about each. These aren’t issues we will solve immediately. They take a lifetime to build, and they will ebb and flow. But as you diligently pursue staying on top of them, you will be locking in that legacy you desire to leave behind!

Lifelong Learning

The Importance of Being a Lifelong Learner

I cannot emphasize enough the need to be a learner in every area of your life. Learning is integral to growth and, consequently, success. As you’ve heard me say in my audios, formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune. Because here’s what’s exciting: If you step up the self-education curve and commit to being a lifelong learner, you will come up with more answers than you can use.

Having said that, here are my thoughts on the importance of being a lifetime learner:

1. The Mind Was Designed to Learn. The Master Planner (the one who created us) gave us an incredible ability to learn. He gave us a practically limitless capacity to learn and store knowledge. He gave us the ability to take that knowledge and then process it rationally. In short, the mind was designed to learn! When we stop learning, we stop using the mind we were given, and then it is not exercised in the way it was meant. The basic functions of the mind are to govern our actions and to learn!

2. Times Change, and We Must, Too. We live in a rapidly changing world. There are always changes in technology, information, systems, culture, and even the way people relate to each other. So, with everything changing, we must constantly be learning. We must constantly be taking in new information, processing it and changing accordingly so that we can adapt and succeed.

3. Your Competition Is Learning! This is a given. We live in the most competitive time in history. Individuals, companies and nations compete. Everyone is looking for the edge to win. Friends, I must tell you that the edge is learning. Those who can take in information and process it quickly and correctly (to help people and turn a profit) are the ones who will come out on top.

4. We Must Learn so We Can Help Those Who Follow. We should not live our lives selfishly. Instead, we must learn so that we forge new ground for ourselves, yes, but also so that we have the ability to improve the lives and welfare of others. The further we take ourselves, the further we can take those who work for and rely upon us. Everything we learn is for a twofold purpose: for us to grow and to then help others.

A Basic Plan for Lifelong Learning

Plan what you want to learn. If you do not plan to learn, chances are, you will not. The lifelong learner is a decided learner; they choose to learn. People are different and run their schedules differently, but the point is, no matter how you plan, your learning must be “in your book,” as they say.

Truly believe in the power of learning. If you don’t believe that learning will help you, then you will not grow. I am under the strong assumption that because you are here today, that you believe in growth and learning, and that is good. But, even so, you can always increase your ability to trust in the process of learning and the power it holds to transform your life. Every time you learn something, root it deeply and tell yourself that you will be better off because of it!

Set aside time to learn and grow. Each and every day we should have a planned learning time. The best way to get through a 300-page book is by reading a few pages each day. That way, you are sure to finish it. The best way to listen to a 12-part series is to listen to one part each day. Even if you can only get to your learning every other day or a few days a week, it will be best if you have it written down in the book as planned learning. Build it right into your schedule. Set aside time to read and listen, to participate in small groups of people who want to learn.

Feed your inquisitiveness. Always ask questions. Always see if there is something more you can learn. Look for new knowledge on new topics. Expand your base of knowledge by picking up new subjects. Go broad in your knowledge, but go deep as well. See if there is another question that can be asked so that your knowledge can go one step deeper and your understanding a bit broader.

Master history. A friend of mine once asked a mentor of his whether or not he looked primarily for people with an MBA. This mentor was responsible for business development for one of the largest companies in the world. The answer my friend received was surprising. The gentleman said that he actually liked to hire history majors. “They prove that they have an attention to detail and can learn from the past.” Those are brilliant words. Study your history, because history helps you learn what to do from the best and what not to do from the worst.

Keep a journal. This has been a big point for me for many years now. Keeping a journal enables you to log what you are learning, reflect upon it, and go back to it and chart your life. It doesn’t have to be filled with long entries, but keeping a journal can help you in your lifelong journey.

Take advantage of resources. The way we live today enables us to learn in so many different ways. Here are just a few:

In person
Small groups
Live experiences
Personal coaching/mentors
Web seminars
Mastermind groups
Online communities

Quite frankly, there are so many resources, there’s no excuse not to learn. Just looking at the list should give you plenty of ideas for filling out your learning plan.

Learning is very important, and it is important to plan for it. Do what you can to put yourself into a lifelong learning plan!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

-Nick James

Supplemental Notes

Keeping Your Mind Tuned for Success

Here are some ways to keep “tuned in” to “success”!

Use Your Innate Ability to Decide and Choose
When we constantly flex our muscle of choice, we build it up and it helps keep us on track for success. It is just like working out: The more we do, the stronger we get and the more “fit” we become. Do you want to keep your mind tuned for success? Keep it healthy by making good choices and decisions on a regular basis. For example, do you have a bad habit? Then flex your mind muscle and choose to change—today. If you choose to stay the same (and those are the only two choices), you will have just chosen to tune your mind to a different station other than “Success.”

Put Good Stuff into Your Brain
There are lots of things that want to work their way into our minds (and eventually work themselves out again in our actions). There is much that we take in just by walking around all day. But what about the things we put in our minds on purpose? We can choose to put good stuff in on a regular basis. Do you take time each day to put good things into your mind, to tune in to “success”? Here are two things to consider when you are choosing what to put into your mind: First, is it positive? Will it build you up or tear you down? Will it make you a better or lesser person? Will you grow from it or not? Will it tune you to “success” or not? Second, will it move you toward your goals in the areas of your life that you want to see success and abundance in?

Keep the Junk Out
As mentioned earlier, there will always be junk floating around, like a co-worker who complains all the time. But what surprises us is that many people who want success actually choose to put junk into their minds and then expect to be tuned to it. Here are some thoughts on this: First, evaluate everything that you put into your mind. Evaluate what you read, listen to and watch. We live in a fast-paced world and have little time. Why then would we spend our precious time putting junk into our minds? Do the things you read, listen to and watch move you toward your goals or away from them? It is a simple question, really.

Eat Right and Exercise
That’s right! The way we eat and the amount of exercise we get go a long way toward our mind’s ability to tune in to “success.” Put the right foods into your body, and the brain responds. Exercise on a regular basis, and the body releases chemicals that literally ignite your brain for success!

Put these key principles into practice, and soon, you’ll be dialed into success and abundance.

Winning the Thought Battle

Our success begins in our thoughts.

The process is that thoughts become actions and actions produce results. So the equation starts with thoughts. The key to success is to start with and control our thoughts. Good thoughts become good actions, which become good results.

But, as humans, we have an ongoing “battle” with our thoughts. Thoughts of depression, negative thoughts and thoughts of fear constantly creep into our minds and cause us to act in certain ways that produce the opposite kind of thoughts we need to produce success.

So, what can we do to win the battle of our thoughts? Here are a few key points. Apply these immediately and consistently, and you will be on your way to winning the thought battle.

1. Guard Your Mind. Behind that forehead of yours is a very precious thing: your mind, because it is precious. If you had a storehouse of gold on your property, you would hire an armed guard to stand watch and keep all the bad guys out. Yet, many of us let any old thing come into our minds. We need to keep the bad thoughts, the negative thoughts out! Now, when we say this, we mean both the ones that start in our heads and the ones that come from external sources.

2. Proactively Place Good Thoughts in Your Head. Just like a garden, where you weed (pull the bad stuff out) and plant (put the good stuff in), we do the same thing with our thoughts. Buy audio programs and music that will produce good, happy thoughts! Watch TV programs and videos that put good thoughts in your mind!

3. Avoid the Naysayers. They are all around you. You work with them, you live near them—some are even in your family! Whatever you do, do not let them affect you with their negative thoughts and words. Spend as little time as you can with them (unless it is your spouse or kids, and then you might consider getting counseling!)

4. Act on the Positive Thoughts You Do Have. When a positive thought comes into your mind, act on it! This will begin to create a “bridge” between what you think and how you act, and will help make the transition even easier as time goes by!

In review, here are the four key ideas to win the thought battle:

– Guard your mind.
– Proactively place good thoughts in your head.
– Avoid the naysayers.
– Act on the positive thoughts that you do have.

Go forth and win the battle!

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises.

Week 1:

Week 2:

Week 3:

Week 4:

Reading & Memory

I have been focusing on accelerated learning this month. Today, specifically, my focus is on reading and memorization. A big part of achieving any new skill is motivation. So, here is a question: What is the one book you know that if you read it in the next week, it would make a difference in your life? It could be on health, spirituality, relationships, management, parenting, sales, running a business, investing or making a difference. Go get the book and make a commitment to start reading it in the next seven days. Also make a commitment to apply the speed-reading and memorization techniques shared today. By doing so, you will have made a decision to do three things that will forever impact your life. Read the book that you know will make a difference, and intentionally work on both your reading and memory skills for an entire book. Go for it!

Lets have a great week

The N.J.W Blog

Accelerated Learning, Part Three—Reading and Memory

This month my focus is on accelerating our learning processes. Here is our overview for the rest of the month.

3. Improve Your Memory. This week, I will talk about how the mind and memory work and how to train yourself to remember more. I will also cover basic speed-reading techniques and show you the importance of reading and how to develop a basic reading plan.

4. Lifelong Learning. Next week, I will discuss the importance and benefits of being a lifetime learner. In addition, I will talk briefly about a basic plan for lifelong learning and how to keep your mind tuned for success, as well as how to win the battles of thought that take place in our minds.

The Importance of Reading

I cannot emphasize the importance of reading enough, as I have seen the dramatic impact that it has had on my own life and on the lives of countless others I have worked with. Reading is truly at the center of personal development. Isn’t it interesting that most homes valued more than $250,000 have a library? Shouldn’t that tell us something? Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, says, “You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years, except for the people you meet and the books you read.” That should tell us something!

So, why is reading important? Let me share some thoughts with you:

Reading opens up new worlds. Reading allows you to travel far away and experience different cultures, religions, places and people, all through the pages of a wonderful book. At a fraction of the cost of actually going there—though, I highly recommend travel as well—you can open up a new world with a simple visit to your local library or bookstore.

Reading opens up new ideas. There are so many ideas we have never even heard or considered. Yet, by picking up a little book, we can be confronted with ideas that can revolutionize the world around us. These are ideas that can change your finances, your family, your work, your attitude—your life! Reading allows you to receive ideas.

Reading allows you to interact with the greatest minds. You could gain incredible insights into the minds and ideas of people like George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Winston Churchill, Mother Theresa and Aristotle just by opening a book. Imagine being able to delve into philosophy, politics, religion and more with the greatest minds that have ever lived… all inside a book.

Reading challenges you. Sometimes we think we know it all. We think we have a tremendous grasp on a certain topic. But then we read something that challenges us. It makes sense. It takes our preconceived ideas and shreds them. It pokes holes in our theories. It takes us on a line of reasoning we hadn’t considered. And we are better for it, because someone took the time to expose us to something new through their writing.

Reading reinforces our beliefs. We can open a book written by someone special, and as we read, we remember why we believed in the first place. The book lays the groundwork for our thoughts. It reinforces our logic. It makes us strong and reminds us who we are.

Reading rounds you out. Reading shows us what we don’t know while teaching us what we must know. It strengthens us where we need to be strengthened. It shows us new ideas and places. And at every turn, reading never takes away from us, but only expands us, our horizons and our destinies.

Over the centuries, books have brought hope to the masses. They have paved the way for rulers, both good and evil. Books have been destroyed—burned and shredded—by the powers that be. Books have brought down cruel nations and rulers and obliterated social structures that have outlived their usefulness. They have inspired the individual. They have shared the private thoughts of the rich and the poor. They have shown us the way—the way to live and the way not to live.

By reading a little book (just a few hundred pages of paper bound together), we can open tremendous worlds for ourselves, what futures we bring to our lives—amazing, truly amazing.

Developing a Basic Reading Plan

I hope from the above that you grasp how incredible I think reading can be.

Just like most things, reading requires a plan and the discipline to follow that plan. So here are some thoughts on developing a reading plan.

Do it daily and regularly. Set aside time each day. Fifteen minutes each day is better than an hour a week. And make sure it gets done; do it at the same time each day.

Prepare your mind. Get your mind in a calm and focused state so it can absorb the information you are about to make available to it.

Prepare the atmosphere. Don’t try to read in a loud or dark room. Choose an atmosphere that is conducive to gaining knowledge.

Keep a journal. Take the time to write down what you are learning and how you can apply it.

Choose a variety of books. Don’t just read one genre; rotate through different books that come from different angles and make you take different approaches.

Interact with the authors as you read. Ask questions and then continue reading to see if they are answered. If you disagree, write it down. Write down examples of how the principles work or don’t work. Make your reading as interactive as you can.

Read things that you might disagree with. Pick up a book by authors whose viewpoints you know you will disagree with. This can be a stretching exercise.

Above all, do it. Go to the store. Buy books. Read them! Because the books you don’t read can’t help you!

I’m frequently asked to give my recommended-reading list. Although there could easily be hundreds, if not thousands, of books I could put on my personal list, here are seven books that, in my opinion, everyone should read. But don’t stop there—I would also encourage you to come up with your own list.

Seven Books Everyone Should Read

1. The Bible—The best-selling book of all time tells the story of sin and redemption, the story of mankind, of despair and hope. It is quite literally the story of our lives.

2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill—This is arguably the best personal-development and wealth-building book of all time. It belongs on everyone’s bookshelf.

3. How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler—This book will teach you to do just what the title promises: how to read a book for all it is worth so that you come out the best you can be at the end.

4. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen—This book will ground you in the belief that whatever you believe you become. It’s based on the biblical idea that we are what we think.

5. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason—Written in parables, this is a classic on thrift, financial planning and personal wealth. Everyone needs to read this book.

6. The Lessons of History by William James Durant—This book gives insight as good as any book on the changes that have taken place over time in economics, politics, military customs and more. Very insightful.

7. The Story of Philosophy by William James Durant—In this book, Durant summarizes the lives and influence of philosophy’s greatest thinkers. This is very important for us, as we know that our philosophy determines how we live and what we achieve.

Start with these seven books and then create your own “must read” list, and read, read, read. See where the journey of books takes you and how much further you can climb because of the growing stack of books under your mental feet. Let the books touch you, make you think, challenge your views and carry you to new horizons.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

-Nick James

Supplemental Notes

Tips for Improving Your Memory

1. Use it! One reason why people don’t remember things is because they do not try. They write things down and do not go through the process of memorization. When you need to remember something, commit it to memory.

2. Create “pegs” to hang things you need to memorize. Use body parts from bottom to top and never change them. One way to have 10 pegs to utilize would be to remember your toes, knees, thighs, hips, lungs, shoulders, collar, face, top of head and then the ceiling. Then, to remember the points or items, create a picture attached to each body part. For example, to remember a grocery list, you would start by picturing eggs cracked between your toes, bacon wrapped around your knees, bread stuck to your thighs, etc. You can do the same thing for speeches, product demonstrations, etc.

3. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If you want to memorize something, say it in order, over and over, until you have it.

4. Create acronyms.

5. For names, create a picture. For example, when you meet a Dave, picture a small person diving off of his head. For Sally, picture a (silly) clown dancing on her forehead, etc. You may think it is weird, but it works! The proof is in the pudding!

Tips for Improving Your Reading Speed

1. Read, read, read. Just like any task, the more you do it, the faster you can get. Ask a beginning auto shop student to rebuild an engine, and it will take a while. Ask a mechanic with 30 years’ experience, and it won’t take much time at all. It is the same with reading.

2. Develop your vocabulary. The better you know the language, the easier it will be for you to read faster.

3. Don’t move your lips while you read. It slows you down.

4. Don’t make any noises while you read. It is your subconscious trying to read with you, and it slows you down.

5. Don’t read each word individually. That slows you down. Read groups of words together, and your mind puts them together in logical order. For example, take this group of words, which are purposefully out of sequence. Your mind sees them and automatically puts them in order. It is even quicker when the words are in logical order:

“store let’s to go the”

And, of course, that sentence is: “Let’s go to the store.”

6. Sweep your hand gently and quickly through the middle section of the page and read as you go. Start slowly, practicing, and then go faster and faster until you reach your highest rate.

7. Practice. Like everything, it takes practice. The more you do it, the better you will get.

You can improve your memory. You can improve the rate at which you read as well as your comprehension. Use the tips above, put them into practice and give it time, and you will see yourself making the gains you desire.

Week 1:

Week 2:

Week 3:

Six Stages of Learning.

1. You Are a Genius! Last week, I discussed ways to unlock and tap into the incredible and powerful potential in your mind. I also covered the attitudes of successful learners and showed how your attitude about learning will determine how far you go in your life and career.

2. Six Stages of Learning. This week, I will talk about how to accelerate your learning and discover what your unique learning strengths and weaknesses are. I will also cover the topic of finding your particular learning style, and how to best tailor your learning to fit your unique needs.

3. Improve Your Memory. Next week, I will talk about how the mind and memory work and how to train yourself to remember more. I will also cover basic speed-reading techniques and show you the importance of reading and how to develop a basic reading plan.

4. Lifelong Learning. In Week Four, I will discuss the importance and benefits of being a lifetime learner. In addition, I will talk briefly about a basic plan for lifelong learning and how to keep your mind tuned for success, as well as how to win the battles of thought that take place in our minds.

So, let’s talk about the topics for this week!

Six Stages of Learning

Brian Tracy shows us (along with co-author Colin Rose) what he calls the Six Stages of Learning in his program entitled Accelerated Learning. I want to give you these six stages, as Brian calls them, and then my thoughts on each section. It is important for us to understand this process so we know what direction to go. Once we understand the process, then we can learn to accelerate the process.

The Six Stages of Accelerated Learning:

1. State of Mind
2. Intake of Information
3. Explore the Subject
4. Memorize the Information
5. Show You Know
6. Reflect on How You Learn

Here are my thoughts on each:

1. State of Mind—It is so very important for us to have our minds in the right state before we train to learn. A good analogy would be if you were going to paint your home. You wouldn’t just go buy paint and then paint it. No, first you would prepare the home because you want the paint to stick! If you do not prepare the home, the paint is less likely to last. So you would pressure-wash it, sand it, cover the windows, etc. You prepare so the paint will last.

The same is true with learning. The mind must be prepared. We must be in a state of learning. We must be in an atmosphere that is conducive to learning. We should demonstrate the attitudes talked about last week. All of this is necessary preparation.

Once your mind is prepared, then you can go to the next stage. Yes, you could have skipped the preparation stage beforehand, but preparation will enhance your chances of having a successful learning experience.

2. Intake of Information—The fact is that you have to take in information. This can be through a variety of ways—listening, reading, watching and action—and all at various times. When your mind is prepared, it is then open to the intake of information. You allow that information to stick.

A good balanced plan of learning includes using a variety of learning opportunities, although as shared later, you will have a dominant style of learning. The key is to regularly take information in. A person serious about learning should be a reader. They should read good books, they should be a listener, they should listen to audios and to people, all with the goal of learning. They should observe people and see what other successful people do. They should try many new things and learn from those experiences. All of this will help your intake.

3. Explore the Subject—It is one thing to know that Mr. Whitmore drives an $80,000 car and lives in a million-dollar home. That is called surface knowledge. It is quite another to know exactly how Mr. Whitmore became a successful person and to apply that knowledge to your own life. One is easily seen and acquired, but the other takes exploration. It is one thing to know basic addition and subtraction, but it is another thing altogether to know advanced trigonometry! So we must explore, read different books, listen to different viewpoints and try different things so that we can learn at a deeper level.

4. Memorize the Information—I will cover this more in detail next week, but repetition plays a large role in memorization. There is also association work here, but let’s stick with repetition for now. Have you ever sat in a coffee shop and watched the person behind the counter? Or perhaps a waiter in a restaurant? This is a place you wouldn’t expect to see the wonders of the mind, but you can if you listen closely.

We repeat things until we learn them. Do you know your home phone number? Of course you do. But when you first moved in, you probably had to carry it with you until you had called it enough or repeated it enough to others to remember it.

5. Show You Know—This is what we call the old “test.” You have to test your knowledge to make sure that you really know it. The idea of learning is to master information so we can apply it long term, not just brush up against it from time to time. Think about it: If there is a classic book sitting on your coffee table, you can look at it sitting there and never be the better for it. But then you could also quickly peruse it, maybe look at the table of contents. That wouldn’t benefit you much more. Or, you could take a good slow read through the book and stop to reflect on the truths you learn. Now that would be good. Then you could be out and about and come across a situation that you read about—that’s when you apply it. And you can only apply it if you know it! That is the test! Do you know your stuff?

6. Reflect on How You Learn—Reflection is something that doesn’t happen much anymore. Reflection is deeper thought about what we know and what we do. It is where we seek meaning. It is where we take our time to find the purpose and examine what we have learned and what we have lived. This is why I promote journaling so passionately. We can take in information and then apply it because we know it, but it shouldn’t stop there. We must take regular times to review what we know and what we experience so we can see if it is right, to see if it is applicable, to see if there is a better way, or shorter way or more efficient way. This only comes when we take the time to go back and think and reflect about what we have learned. So set aside the valuable time to reflect, to gather your knowledge and experience and invest them into your future.

So, let’s repeat the process to ourselves (that’s the way we learn, you know):

1. Get your mind in the right state.
2. Take in the information.
3. Explore the subject deeply.
4. Memorize the information.
5. Test yourself to show that you really know it.
6. Take time to reflect.

Now let’s take a brief look at how to accelerate your learning:

Here are five tips for accelerating your learning.

1. Apply the sequence of the process above. That is the key. Use these proven steps to put you on track for learning.

2. Make your learning regular. That is, do it on schedule. Your mind will get used to learning and become extremely efficient at it if you will train your mind to learn.

3. Be methodical. The best way to accelerate your learning is to do it every day. The person who progressively learns something every day for 30 days, applying the process above will be much better off than the person who learns nothing for 27 days and then crams for three days. As Robert Schuller says, “Inch by inch, it is a cinch.” True words.

4. Focus on doing most of the learning in your main learning style. That is your strength. It is safe to say that when you are learning in the way you learn best, you will learn faster.

5. Work with a partner. Learn together. Challenge one another. Stretch one another. Compete with one another. Test one another. And, of course, encourage one another.

You can accelerate your learning. It just takes a little practice and learning some new skills. Be encouraged—your mind is capable of tremendous things, and when you get into the flow of learning, you will grow in ways you have never grown before!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

-Nick James

Supplemental Notes

We live in an incredible time in human history! Never before has learning had so many opportunities! Think about it for a moment: A thousand years ago, a man wakes up in a rural village and decides that he wants to learn something. What are his options? Not many! Read one of the few books in the village—if there even were any, and only if he could read. Maybe he could sit at the feet of the smartest man in the village, who knew about as much about the world as the average third-grader does now.

Yes, we live in an incredible world:

CDs and audios
DVDs and videos
Educational institutions
Smart phones
And on and on…. There are just so many places to get information.

But there is another key that is very important and one that we want to touch briefly on: learning styles. It is imperative that you identify your learning style because your dominant learning style will help you learn much more quickly and deeply. For example, if you learn in one way and yet you take in a certain bit of information using a different learning style, then you will not learn the information as well as if you had utilized your strongest learning style. Let me explain.

There are two points to go through:

1. When do you learn best?
2. How do you learn best?

First, when do you learn best?

Some people learn best in the morning. Maybe they like to get up at 5 or 6 and do lots of work in the morning. By 10 p.m., they couldn’t learn how to unfold a paper bag!

Some people learn best at mid-day. That is when their minds are ticking right. These are the Goldilocks of learners: not too early, not too late, but just right.

And some people learn best at 2 in the morning. They study or work at times that most of us are hitting the first cycle of REM sleep.

The key is to find what time you learn best and go with it. Now, what about people in school? They go primarily in the middle of the day. That’s OK. Just make sure that you are doing the deep work of learning in the time when your mind is most efficient at it.

Secondly, let’s talk a bit about how you learn.

There are four predominant styles:

Some people learn best from reading. Give them a book and they can learn it.

Some people learn best from listening. Let them hear it and they can learn it.

Some people learn best from watching. Let them see it and they can learn it.

Some people learn best from doing. Let them do it—feel it—and they can learn it.

It is important that you know which is your strongest style. Now, yes, there will be times you will be called upon to read, but if you learn best from watching, then, by all means, do what you can by watching. The point is to find the way that you learn and master information best—and then pursue it!

Learning is too important to use only the default learning style. It is important enough to do some research, find a book on the topic and then develop a plan for learning, which will help you become an awesome learner!

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises.

week 1:

week 2:

You Are A Genius

This month, I dive into the topic of Accelerated Learning and the potential we each have to experience exponential growth in the areas of learning, memory and reading.

I am intrigued by how quickly and powerfully technology is advancing. If we were able to travel back in time 100 years, the thought that someone could speak into a small device (cell phone) and speak to someone else on a small device (cell phone) in real time, yet each be on a different continent in a different part of the world, would be totally inconceivable (it still amazes us). The same can be said for space travel, or microwave ovens, television, and of course, computers and the Internet. But here is what is most intriguing to us: The possibilities to do all this existed hundreds of years ago, and, yes, even thousands of years ago—they just had not been discovered.

Key questions:

1. What has not been discovered yet that we would find unbelievable?
2. Who discovers or figures these things out?
3. What is more powerful: the inventor/discoverer or the technology/discovery?

The bottom line is this: Despite the advances of technology has given us (for example, the computer), they are still tools created and operated by humans. Humans keep figuring out and discovering possibilities and opportunities that previously seemed impossible. We each have a wellspring of undiscovered possibilities and opportunities sitting right inside our own heads, just waiting to be explored and tapped into.

Let’s seize the day to see the possibilities and the wide-open expanse of the unexplored territory waiting to be tapped!

We are on Month 11, keep on learning!

The N.J.W Blog

Accelerated Learning, Part One—You Are a Genius!

This month, I focus on accelerating our learning processes—how exciting! First, understand that we all posses the ability to improve and accelerate our learning curve. And second, this creates the potential of what we can continue to become.

Here is an overview of the month.

1. You Are a Genius! This week, I discuss ways to unlock and tap into the incredible and powerful potential in your mind. We will also cover the attitudes of successful learners and show how your attitude about learning will determine how far you go in your life and career.

2. Six Stages of Learning. Next week, I will talk about how to accelerate your learning and discover what your unique learning strengths and weaknesses are. I will also cover the topic of finding your particular learning style, and how to best tailor your learning to fit your unique needs.

3. Improve Your Memory. In two weeks, I will talk about how the mind and memory work and how to train yourself to remember more. I will also cover basic speed-reading techniques and show you the importance of reading and how to develop a basic reading plan.

4. Lifelong Learning. In Week Four, I will discuss the importance and benefits of being a lifetime learner. In addition, I will talk briefly about a basic plan for lifelong learning and how to keep your mind tuned for success, as well as how to win the battles of thought that take place in our minds.

You Are a Genius—Unlocking the Power of the Mind

This month, I focus on the learning that comes through the power of the mind. Take care to feed and stimulate your brain, and you will expand your mind. A healthy brain is central to a healthy mind. Because the two are inextricably connected, I would like to start this month by giving an overview of the astounding complexity of the brain. Many of these facts may be familiar to you, but they are important reminders of this incredible tool God gave us. We again need to see the human brain and mind with wonder, awe and inspiration.

But first, what do we mean by “learning”?

Here is how some dictionaries define it:
—The act, process or experience of gaining knowledge or skill
—Knowledge or skill gained through schooling or study
—Behavioral modification, especially through experience or conditioning
—To gain knowledge, comprehension or mastery through experience or study

Keep this in mind as we go through the month: Learning is gaining knowledge through various means.

Now, a little about the brain:

The brain is the equivalent of a human supercomputer. Your brain is more complicated than any computer mankind has ever made. Maximizing your brain’s ability is essential to becoming the success you desire to become because it controls who you are. It is the command center involved in and controlling absolutely everything you do. Your brain determines how you think, feel and act.

Simply put: When your brain is working at peak performance, it allows you to be your best because it controls the rest.

Here are some facts about the brain:

– It is about 2 percent of body weight.
– It consumes about 20 to 30 percent of the body’s energy.
– There are about 100 billion neurons in the brain.
– Each neuron or nerve cell is connected to other nerve cells in the brain.
– There are more than 1 quadrillion connections in the brain.
– Each one of these neurons is a little “learning center” capable of storing knowledge.

Needless to say, most of us have barely scratched the surface when it comes to tapping into those neurons!

There are some basic influences on the brain that shape how it functions and how far it develops. Some of these include genes, health, injury, self-talk, life experiences, stress and study (or lack of it). Notice, I said that these influence the brain, but they do not determine how far you can go or what you can learn, except perhaps in the case of severe injury or mental retardation. In other words, you have the incredible opportunity to go as far as you desire!

So, with such a tremendous tool at our disposal, what keeps so many from experiencing the possibilities that this tool can bring? There are some simple barriers that many people face that can have the potential to wreak havoc on our learning if we allow them to.

Barriers to Finding Your Genius

Lack of belief. Many people do not believe that they can learn, master knowledge or become “smarter.” These are deeply held beliefs for many, and, ultimately, if you do not believe it, you will not achieve it.

Lack of knowledge. What keeps some people from learning is that they choose not to access or do not have access to knowledge. Knowledge comes from experiences, books, people and other “knowledge dispensers.” We must tap into that knowledge.

Lack of desire. Some people simply do not have the desire to learn. They may be lazy, or they may not see the positive impact that learning would have on them. They have no passion inside that drives them to learn.

Lack of hard work. Gaining knowledge—learning—is hard work, and it takes a lifetime to master. It is an ongoing discipline that is never complete. I am getting on in my years, and I am still learning. I am still doing the hard work to expand my mind. It would be easy to give up and coast, but I love the challenge of continuing to learn.

So, how do we overcome or break through these “barriers”? The key to breaking through these barriers is to do the opposite.

Let’s look at some tools we can use to knock down those barriers:

Change Your Beliefs. It is up to you to do the work of changing your beliefs. And when you do, you will be opening up new worlds— literally! Feed your mind with information that will change your belief. By taking part in this one-year plan, you are doing just that. But also ask yourself if you are doing that with belief. The truth is that you have an amazing mind with a capacity for learning that is beyond your comprehension. You must believe this. And when you do, you will be unlocking the potential of your mind!

Get the Right Knowledge. Words—if they are not true—are meaningless. I hear children say, “I read it in a book.” But is it true? Just because someone says it or writes it doesn’t mean it is true. As learners, we want to get the right knowledge, not just information or opinions. It is our job to seek out information and knowledge and then test it and run it through our minds to see if it is true, and if it can be rightfully applied to our lives in order to make them better and help us succeed. We need to weigh and measure what we learn in order to gain the right knowledge. And when we do, we will be unlocking the potential of our mind!

Become Passionate About Learning. This will take some work, but the only way to do it is to begin learning about things that have an immediate impact in your life. When you learn about a new financial concept that helps you earn money or get out of debt, you will be fired-up. When you learn about a way to communicate that helps you sell more product, you will be energized. When you learn about how to interact with your family in a healthy way and your relationships get better, you will be inspired! Become passionate about learning, because when you do, you unlock the potential of your mind!

Discipline Yourself Through the Hard Work of Study. Learning will take work. Until someone comes up with modules that can plug into your mind and give you instant access to knowledge, you are on your own, and that takes work. The process of learning is a long one. Yes, we can speed it up, but it is still a process of reading, listening, reviewing, repetition, applying the knowledge, experiencing the outcomes, readjusting, etc. Simply put, that takes time. Slowly but surely, when you discipline yourself, you gain knowledge and learn. And when you do, you will be unlocking the potential of your mind!

Learning is possible, no matter your age. You are never too young or too old. Your mind was created to learn, and it has a huge capacity to do so. This week, make a commitment to unlock the potential of your mind!

-Nick James

Supplemental Notes

We can choose our attitudes about anything, including learning and education. That’s right. We get to choose what our attitudes are. Attitude is “the feeling or opinion about something or someone, or a way of behaving that follows from this.” We choose our opinion about people and situations. We choose the way we will behave in relation to other people and circumstances. We choose what we believe about learning. We choose it. Learning doesn’t have to be bad. It doesn’t have to be anything but what we want it to be. We have the option. We can have tremendously optimistic attitudes about learning—attitudes that will help us grow in ways we have never achieved before!

The choice of a right attitude will significantly determine new circumstances. Choosing to have the right attitude will change the world around you. This isn’t any sort of magic; it is just how the world works. Now, don’t get us wrong. It won’t cure everything and turn your world into a virtual Shangri-La, but it will significantly improve the world you live in. For example, let’s say that every day you go into work and you gripe about life and work from the moment you get there until the moment you leave. Will others want to be around you? Will others ask your opinion? Will others like you? Will others ask you to join them for lunch? Probably not! But what if you come to work every day and you are the positive optimist of the crowd? Will everybody love you? No, but significantly more people will than if you are the office pessimist! Your choice of attitude will determine what kind of circumstances you get!

The same is true with learning. What we feel about learning and what we believe about it will determine the outcomes of our learning. And the outcomes of our learning will determine the outcome of our lives.

Ultimately, our attitude is a choice. Nobody else can force you to have a bad attitude. Nobody else can force you to have a good attitude. It is simply a choice we each make.

Where are you with your attitude about learning? Is it positive? Take some time to give it some serious thought. Then, no matter where you find yourself, decide to take your attitude to the next level! If you have a really bad attitude, decide to take it up a couple of levels!

So, if our attitudes determine to a great degree what kind of life we have, shouldn’t we focus on the best attitudes to have and then make them our own? Absolutely! If we want to soar with the eagles in this life, and if there are attitudes that will make us soar, shouldn’t we pursue them with all our hearts? Yes, by all means! So here we go!

Attitudes of Successful Learners

1. “I can.” This is the most basic attitude. We simply must choose to believe that we can learn. Telling yourself that you can’t will, in effect, make it so. But telling yourself that you can, will, in effect, enable you to learn much more. Even if you actually only achieve 50 percent of what you tell yourself, you will achieve at least that much more than if you told yourself you couldn’t. So many people were told at a young age that they couldn’t learn. Many others were allowed to engage in that kind of negative self-talk (telling themselves, “I can’t learn,” “I don’t understand,” I’ll never get this,” etc.), and their parents and teachers didn’t intervene. This enabled them to develop the “I can’t” attitudes that become self-fulfilling prophecies.

2. “This is a long-term approach.” Learning isn’t something that happens overnight. Yes, you can learn individual facts, but the real growth comes when you see your learning build on itself and compound for years, when your knowledge meets up with your experience. When we take the attitude that it all has to happen immediately, we hurt ourselves in the long run because the fact is that it takes time to learn (even though we can accelerate it). If we expect it to happen immediately and it doesn’t, then we can get frustrated and stop learning altogether.

Instead, we need to take a long-term view just as we do in financial matters, weight management, leadership, etc. Long-term thinking, including our learning is always the best way to go for success.

3. “Learning is valuable.” Some people have a “learning schmearning—who needs learning?” attitude. They think that learning is overrated. That’s wrong, especially today. We live in the information age. We must gain knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge if we are going to be successful. We must tell ourselves and cultivate the attitude that learning is valuable and that it will affect our lives.

4. “I will make a difference in the lives of those around me.” People who soar are generally people who have the attitude of helping other people. Yes, they may do it for monetary gain, but they are others-focused. They want to change the way people live and experience life for the better. They are difference makers all around. This is the same in what we learn. We learn first for ourselves, but then with the goal of taking what we have learned, and what we make of ourselves, and we then help others to do the same.

One thing we can say, as almost a universal truth, most people are not self-consumed. They genuinely care about others and will do what they can to help others. This is what we know to be true about the attitudes of the genuinely successful.

These are the attitudes of people who are not just successful at getting information into their minds, but in becoming good people because of that information. Learn all that you can, and be sure to keep the attitudes that will make you a successful learner and a successful person!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Becoming The Best Leader

Part Four—Becoming the Best Leader You Can Be—Taking Care of Yourself and Motivating Those Who Follow You—in Good Times and Tough Times

N.J.W Blog



Remember our key phrase this month: You are a leader! Continue to grow in your leadership position so that you can effectively lead the group around you, no matter what size it is!

This month I am covering the topic of Leadership:

1. The Foundational Principles of Leadership and Developing a Powerful Vision. In the first week’s edition, I covered the basic foundational elements that are central to becoming a person with tremendous leadership skills and abilities. I also discussed the secrets to having a powerful and compelling vision that helps you attract others.

2. Character: The Core of Leadership and Leadership Mistakes to Avoid. Two weeks ago, I looked at what I believe is the core element of what it means to be a leader: the issue of character. I looked at what it means to be a person of character who can inspire others, and how character is essential. I also looked at some typical mistakes people make that hinder their ability to lead and move their organizations forward and how you can avoid making those same mistakes.

3. Skills Needed for Effective Leadership and Developing Other Leaders in Your Organization. Last week I focused more on the basic skills that effective leaders demonstrate. I also looked at some strategic ways to develop potential leaders around you to ensure a new generation of leaders.

4. Becoming the Best Leader You Can Be—Taking Care of Yourself as the Leader and Motivating Those Who Follow You—In Good Times and Tough Times. This week I will take a closer look at making sure that you take care of yourself. In this day and age, it is even more important for the leader to closely guard their personal growth and development. I will also look at how to motivate others to follow you.

There is a basic principle in life: You cannot help people beyond the degree to which you have first helped yourself. This is not to say we should be narcissistic and selfish; it just means that we should make our own lives successful so that we can, in turn, help others along their journey as well.

Leaders can fall into a trap. They can be so focused on the needs of their followers and the needs of the organization that they eventually fall apart, meaning they can no longer help others.

One key to being a great leader is to work toward longevity, which includes taking care of yourself and making yourself the very best leader and person you can be.

So here are some keys to keeping yourself in the game so you can be an effective leader for a very long time and help as many people as possible:

1. Realize that taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. Leaders are people, just as their followers are. We need to take care of ourselves. And it isn’t selfish to do so. In fact, the argument could be made that not taking care of ourselves is the most selfish thing we could do because there is a high likelihood that we will burn out and be unable to serve our followers if we don’t. We can still work hard and lead, and at the same time be very effective in taking care of ourselves. This may be an attitude or belief adjustment for some of you who are used to giving up too much of yourselves to your followers.

2. Have a plan for taking care of yourself. If you don’t have a plan, something important could be neglected. What gets planned gets done. It is interesting that the same leaders who wouldn’t neglect planning their work don’t plan the part of their lives that will restore them to a greater strength in both their work and personal lives. A strong leader plans to restore themselves. They schedule restorative activities and times.

3. Set boundaries. Even as leaders, we need to have boundaries with our followers. There needs to be a clear line that they are not allowed to cross or encroach upon. Your followers need to know not only that you are the leader, and as such, you are willing to sacrifice for the team, but also that you are a person who needs time for yourself.

4. Live a life of balance. One of the most important things you can do in this area is to make sure that you are balanced. There are many areas of life: work, hobbies, family, health, recreation, learning, etc.—the list could go on forever. Unfortunately, too many people spend too much time on one or two areas, and usually it is work that gets the bulk of our energy and attention. Life isn’t designed to be lived this way. We all need a break from an intense routine. We are actually designed to work more efficiently when we live in balance. As we turn away from a part of life for a time, it actually enables us to be better when we return. So, when you leave your leadership at work for a time, say, a well-needed vacation, you will actually be a better leader when you get back to the office. Balance makes us better in every area, including our emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual lives.

5. Spend quiet time. We live in a day of noise. From the time we get up until the time we collapse into bed, we are surrounded by noise. We are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages. We’re exposed to television, radio and people talking all day. Frankly, we need quiet. We need to be alone with just our thoughts. We need to get away from all of the voices to be alone with our own voice, that inner voice that we don’t always get to hear. When we are alone, we begin to see more clearly. We learn about ourselves. And that, in turn, helps us become better leaders.

6. Take time for fun things. Every leader—every person—needs time for fun. Just because you are a leader doesn’t mean you have to be serious all of the time. Everybody should have things they do to enjoy themselves. Laugh and have fun!

7. Have someone, such as a mentor or coach, invest in you just as you invest in others. The job of the leader is to give sacrificially to those they lead. This is the idea of servant leadership. Leaders give. The idea that the leaders get to the top and live off of others’ work is not accurate. True leaders give to others. The downside is that we often do not have anyone to give to us. While we are teaching others, who teaches us? Every great leader should have someone who can pour into their life, someone who can teach them, someone who can encourage them, someone whom the leader can go to with issues and problems. Those are needs every leader has. You would do well to find someone who can invest in you the way you invest in others.

8. Take a day off each week. The good book says to take a day of rest. Work six days, then rest a day. No more “sneaking back into the office.” No more making “just one more phone call.” This is a foreign concept to many people today. We have become seven-days-a-week workers. But the body, the mind and the spirit need rest. It is OK to do nothing—you have my permission! Rest one full day—at least! This will go a long way toward regenerating your life, and ultimately your leadership.

9. Go for the long haul. The old fable of the tortoise and the hare is a good one. Those who finish first are those who steadily plod along and discipline themselves to finish the race. You are a leader today. Do you want to be a leader 10 years from now? Twenty years? Thirty years? If you pace yourself and take care of yourself, you can be. Yes, we need to have a sense of urgency in our work, but at the same time, we must understand that we have a lifetime to lead.

Taking care of yourself is important. It is something you cannot neglect if you take your leadership role seriously. Give this some serious thought and consideration. When you get the concept of taking care of yourself and then act on it, you will significantly increase your chances of being a great leader for the long haul.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

-Nick James

Supplemental Notes

One thing known to be true (but many people do not believe) is that people do want to be motivated. Sometimes people will say, “But they just won’t follow.” Not true. You just haven’t motivated them to follow you! Get certain things right, and they will follow! With that in mind, here are some keys to getting people motivated to follow your leadership.

1. Inspire and Challenge Them. People want to be inspired. They want to be encouraged to think bigger and better things. They want to look for and climb big mountains. They want to have someone help them dream their biggest dreams. That’s inspiration! They also want someone to set the bar high for them. They want someone to tell them that they can and should aim higher and go for more. That’s challenging! Show them the lofty heights, because probably no one else is and the one who does is the one who will lead them.

2. Teach Them. One of the greatest leadership-development programs in the world is at General Electric. Jack Welch, the company’s former CEO, personally devoted himself to its growth. He spent thousands and thousands of hours at the company’s university, teaching in a classroom setting. He knew that information must be communicated and taught. He knew that leaders need to take the time and be patient, teaching those they lead. And, oftentimes, through this process, you will probably learn something yourself!

3. Empathize with Them. OK, it’s almost a cliché by now, but the saying, “I feel your pain” works! Why? Because people want their leaders to feel their pain. They want them to know what it feels like when it is hard or when it is work. This doesn’t mean every board meeting has to be a touchy feely sob fest, but we ought to do more than tell our followers, “Suck it up, soldier!” In this day and age, that doesn’t fly. Your followers want to know that you understand what they are going through and that you care. Sit down with them. Ask questions about the situation, and follow up with them.

4. Strategize with Them. Some, but very few, people want to be told what to do and then be left alone. Most would like some direction and help in the area of strategy. Take the time to plot out the plan of action. Even if you know it, it is best to not just hand it over and say, “Now, do it.” Take them step by step so they learn how to do it themselves. Remember, we aren’t just trying to get the job done—we are trying to get the job done and create new leaders under us. This is an investment!

5. Dream with Them. Take an interest in what they want to accomplish in their life. Give them the opportunity to dream about what your organization or business can become. Encourage them to dream big dreams, and then do all you can to share that dream, foster that dream and make that dream a reality! Let them know that you are committed to them achieving their dreams, and they will follow you to the ends of the earth!

6. Encourage Them to Shoot for the Stars. This is closely aligned with having them dream, but this has more to do with the size of their dream! Most people will underestimate what they can do or what they want to accomplish. Most people have much more potential than they realize, let alone live up to. Help them by encouraging them to stretch their dreams so they are even bigger and greater than before.

7. Communicate Honestly and Clearly with Them. People who follow want their leaders to be honest with them. The act of following is based on believing that you are being told the truth about where you are going! Be open about the positives and the negatives. People can take it, and if you make them integral to the solutions, then even tough problems become a chance for teamwork! Communicate in many ways: written, verbal, etc. Do it regularly so they know what the plan is, where you are going, what time departure is and the estimated time of arrival at destination success!

Now, motivation is always important, but it’s even more so in tough and challenging times. Here are a few things to keep in mind when the going gets rough:

Tough and challenging times will surely come. That is a given. The question is: What kind of leadership will we demonstrate during those times? Weak leaders will see permanent damage. With extraordinary leaders at the helm, however, an organization can actually become stronger and thrive in spite of the tough and challenging times. That should be our goal, so here are some ideas on how to be an extraordinary leader in tough and challenging times!

1. Keep Your Eyes on the Big Picture. When things get tough, everybody’s temptation is to become acutely focused on the problem. The extraordinary leader, however, will keep their eyes on the big picture. This doesn’t mean that we don’t address the problem. In fact, we have to address the problem. But what separates a leader from a follower is that the leader doesn’t get caught up in the problem. The leader sees the big picture and keeps moving toward the vision. The further they take their followers toward the vision, the further away from the problem they get.

2. Don’t Get Caught in the War or the Friendly Fire. When it gets tough, even the most loyal team members can be tempted to start shooting, and, unfortunately, they sometimes shoot each other! Rather than focusing on the enemy on the outside, they begin to question each other and find many faults with one another that they normally would not see. The extraordinary leader is the one who does not get dragged into the fray. They keep their eye on the big picture and act rationally and objectively. They understand that people can become heated and might say things they don’t really mean, that people are firing because they are angry or scared. The extraordinary leader understands this and rises above it. This way, they take fewer arrows and set the example for their followers.

3. Be First to Sacrifice. When it gets tough (cuts in salaries, etc.), the leader should do just that—lead. They need to not only be the one who is rewarded the greatest when all is well, but they need to be the first to sacrifice. The extraordinary leader says, “I know many of you are concerned with the salary cuts. I am, too. In the long run, we will be healthy again, but for the mean time, this is necessary. Understanding this, I want you to know that I am taking a 20 percent pay reduction myself. I want you to know that we are in this together.” The extraordinary leader is the first to sacrifice and will be rewarded with the loyalty of their followers.

4. Remain Calm. Panic is one of the most basic human emotions, and no one is immune to it. The extraordinary leader, however, takes time out regularly to think the issues through in order to remain calm. They remind themselves that all is not lost and there will be another day. They remind themselves that being calm will enable them to make the best decisions—for themselves and for their followers. Panic only leads to disaster, while calm leads to victory.

5. Motivate. In tough and challenging times, people are naturally down. They tend to be pessimistic. They can’t see how it is all going to work out. Thus, they have a hard time getting going. The extraordinary leader knows this and will focus on being the optimistic motivator. They will come to the office knowing that for the time being, the mood of the group will be carried and buoyed by them and their attitude. Above all else, they seek to show that the result will be good, and with this, they motivate their followers to continue on, braving the current storms, and on to their shared destiny.

6. Create Small Wins. One of the ways to motivate is to create small wins. The extraordinary leader knows that in tough times their people think all is lost. They wonder if they can win. So the extraordinary leader creates opportunities for the team to win, even if they are small. They set smaller, more achievable goals and remind and reward the team members when they hit those goals. With each small win, the leader is building the esteem and attitude of their followers, digging them out of a self-created hole of fear.

7. Keep a Sense of Humor. The extraordinary leader knows that even if the whole company goes down the drain, we still get to go home to our families and live a life of love with them. The extraordinary leader keeps perspective and knows that we humans act irrationally when we get scared and fail, and sometimes that is humorous. Don’t ever laugh at someone’s expense in this situation, because that will be perceived as cold and heartless, regardless of what you meant by it, but do keep the ability to laugh at yourself and the situations that present themselves. By doing this, you will keep yourself and your team in an attitude that will eventually beat the tough times.

Remember: You can be a great motivator of people, and you can do it even when stormy weather comes!

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Skills Needed for Effective Leadership and Developing Other Leaders in Your Organization

This month we are covering the topic of Leadership:

  1. The Foundational Principles of Leadership and Developing a Powerful Vision. In last week’s lesson, I covered the basic foundational elements that are central to becoming a person with tremendous leadership skills and abilities. I also discussed secrets to having a powerful and compelling vision that helps you attract others.
  2. Character: The Core of Leadership and Leadership Mistakes to Avoid. This week I will look at what I believe is the core element of leadership—the issue of character. I will look at what it means to be a person of character who can lead others forward, and how character is essential to successfully lead others. I will also look at some typical leadership mistakes people make that hinder their ability to lead and move their organizations forward, and how you can avoid making those same mistakes.
  3. Skills Needed for Effective Leadership and Developing Other Leaders in Your Organization. This week I will turn our eyes away from the character traits of leaders and look more at the basic skills effective leaders demonstrate. I will also be looking at some strategic ways to develop other leaders around you so you can ensure a new generation of leaders.
  4. Becoming the Best Leader You Can Be—Taking Care of Yourself as the Leader and Motivating Those Who Follow You—In Good Times and Tough Times. In the last week of this month, I will take a closer look at making sure you take care of yourself. In this day and age, it is even more important for the leader to closely guard their own growth and development. I will also look at how to motivate others to follow you.

Character: The Core of Leadership

There has been a lot of discussion lately about character and leadership. Most political elections today seem to have an element to them wherein one candidate suggests that the other doesn’t have the character that it takes to lead. Just a cursory glance at the business page in the newspaper shows a major discussion of character and ethics in the corporate world. Schools are rocked with scandal, as are some churches. Everywhere you turn, it seems as though there is a lack of character. But doesn’t this beg the question, “What is character?”

Here are a few definitions of character that I have found that, when put together, give us a good understanding of what character is:

1. Strength of mind, resolution, independence, individuality

2. Moral or ethical strength

3. Who you are when no one else is around

In other words, a person of good character is a person who has a strong moral base and acts on it. They have the core inner strength, fortitude and determination to do what is right, whether anyone else is there to validate it or not. They operate out of what is good and right, not out of personal expedience.

Once we have defined character, we must also ask: Why is character important? Character is important because it is what we place our trust in when dealing with other people. When we decide to follow a leader, we evaluate their life, their skills, etc., and then make a decision to trust them. We trust that they are who they say they are. We trust that they will do what they say. Trust is built on good people who are consistent in their goodness. Those are the people we can trust—and the leader/follower relationship is, at its core, one of trust.

Six Essential Traits of Good Character

The following are what I believe to be the basics of good character. Miss one of these, and you will find a weak link in your character—one that may be your leadership’s undoing. As you go through the following, soberly reflect on your life as it relates to these integral parts of good character.

1. Integrity. Integrity is a good catch word that is similar to character but provides us with a different way of looking at the idea of character. The root of integrity means “whole” or “undivided,” and that is a terrific way to help us understand what integrity is—an undivided life. For example, you don’t act one way in one situation and another in a different situation. There is integrity and wholeness to your life. Living this way will build trust in your followers. Another use of the word integrity that provides insight for us is when the word is used in regard to a physical structure. A wall or a building that is strong and has no cracks is said to have integrity. The same could be said for great leaders.

2. Honesty. It is regularly said that honesty is the best policy, but I would add that honesty is the only policy for great leaders. Think about it. Why do people hedge the truth? Usually for a few basic reasons: they are either afraid of the ramifications or they are trying to hide something. Either way, a lack of honesty results in the fact that you destroy the trust of those who follow you. Even if you tell them the truth, but they know you have lied to others, it will destroy the trust you had with them. They find themselves thinking, “If he will lie to them, will he lie to me?”

I have never understood what people hope to accomplish by being dishonest. As the Bible says, “Your sin shall surely find you out.” Eventually people come to know that you are not honest in your dealings, and that is what you become known for. Your reputation is what your leadership is based on, though. When we are honest and live transparently before our followers, they are able to see us for who we are and make solid decisions to follow.

3. Loyalty. People of good character are loyal people. They have a “stick-to-it” attitude when it comes to others. Anybody who knows human nature knows that people fail. It is just a matter of time, no matter how talented someone is. A person of good character stays with their friends even in the downtimes. Anyone can be friends with others when times are good. People of good character stay with their friends when they need them most. How this translates into making you a good leader is this: People want to follow a leader who will stretch them beyond where they are now, but who will also allow them to try—and to fail. When we are loyal to our followers, they will be loyal to us and make every effort to succeed on our behalf and on behalf of the organization. There are few things that strengthen the leader-follower bond more than when a leader shows their loyalty to a follower in need.

4. Self-Sacrifice. Lee Iacocca became a legend when he said that he would bring Chrysler back from the brink of bankruptcy and would take only a dollar a year in pay. This was a classic example of a leader sacrificing for the followers. It also showed his understanding of empathizing with the average line worker. As a result, the workers of Chrysler rewarded him with an incredible following as they built Chrysler into one of the world’s leading car companies. What is it about self-sacrifice that breeds followers? Followers do not mind putting in the hard work. They don’t even mind a leader making more money or reaping benefits from their work. What followers do mind, though, is when the leader is using them for personal gain. People of good character do not use other people, period. So when a leader shows sacrifice of personal gain, it says to the followers that they are willing to come alongside of them—and followers reward that almost universally. A person of good character shows that they can give up personal gain for the good of the whole.

5. Accountability. People of good character do not mind accountability. In fact, they welcome it. This is the act of allowing others to have a say in your life, to speak to you straight about your life and conduct. The brutal truth is that we have blind spots and need other people to be in close to us so we can advance down the road of success. The need for accountability doesn’t prove lack of character. Rather, it proves the presence of character. G.K. Chesterton said, “Original sin is the only philosophy empirically validated by 3,500 years of human history.” The person of good character knows this and invites others to speak into their life.

We see this is especially true today with all that has gone on among our leaders lately. Followers are growing tired of leaders who will have nothing to do with accountability. They do not mind leaders who make mistakes, but they do mind leaders who do not take responsibility for their mistakes by being accountable. When we allow ourselves to be held accountable, our followers know that we are serious about keeping our own house in order, and thus will do a good job in leading the rest of the organization.

6. Self-Control. The ability to make decisions—good decisions—about what we will and will not do with our actions is at the core of what we become in regard to our character. There will be plenty of options to participate in things that are not moral. Everybody has temptations, but a person of good character knows to exercise self-control—literal control over their choices. When people do not exercise self-control, they sabotage their ability to lead. People lose respect for them and will follow less, if at all. Self-control is the ability to choose to do the things we should, and to refrain from doing the things we shouldn’t. When we exhibit self-control, we again build trust in our followers. They respect us and want to follow us.

You can strengthen your character. We are born with clean slates. As we grow, there are many influences that shape our character—our parents, teachers, friends and choices all mold that inner character. The good news is, no matter where you are right now, you can decide that your character will grow stronger. You can choose to be around those people who will challenge you to become better. You can choose to put positive materials into your mind and heart. You can begin making choices that reflect a change in lifestyle, and thus, in character. No one is “stuck.” You can change—if you want to!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

-Nick James

Supplemental Notes

When you read books about leadership, there are many points about what to do and what kind of person to be. But what about what not to do and what not to be? Those are just as important! That is why we want to take some time this week to discuss this very important topic, and hopefully challenge you to think about your own leadership situation. This week we focus on the kinds of mistakes great leaders don’t make!

1. Not Riding Momentum To increase your leadership effectiveness, you want to learn to ride the momentum of the situation (the positive momentum of course!). When we begin to experience bad momentum, we naturally try to stop it, and that is wise, but many people also have the tendency to try to stop the positive momentum as well. This comes from our basic desire to have things “under control.” Unfortunately, often when we try to control the situation, we actually stop the good that is happening. So, let go of the reins and ride the momentum! When you are rolling, let it roll!

2. Flaunting the Privilege of Leadership Leadership has its privileges, for sure, and rightly so! The entrepreneur who started the company ought to be paid well and reap the rewards for the risks they took. Unfortunately, human nature is still such that people can and do resent the success and privileges of others, even if those people worked hard for those privileges. Therefore, a great leader will not flaunt their privileges because it could cause a backlash and actually harm their ability to lead. Whenever possible, share the privileges and rewards of leadership, and your followers will love you all the more!

3. Picking People Who Won’t Threaten Them Great leaders will always try to pick people who are better than them! Again, human nature is such that we think, “Wait, if I hire her, she’ll have me out of a job in no time.” Then we pick someone of lesser quality, while our competitor hires the good one and surges ahead. Instead, great leaders are secure in themselves and will pick the best people available to them! If they are better than you, you will grow together as a team, you will still be the leader, and people will respect you for your ability to pick—and lead—a winning team!

4. Not Having a Second in Command Who Complements Them An ordinary leader picks someone who is like them so they can feel comfortable. An extraordinary leader picks someone who can do all the things that they can’t, someone who can see things in ways that they can’t. An extraordinary leader needs a right-hand person who can complement their skills and style. This way the old adage is proved true—two heads are better than one!

5. Not Giving Power Away An ordinary leader wants to do as much as they can so they can be seen as a good, hard worker. They think that they lead by example in this way. An extraordinary leader knows that they need to empower others to do the work and make the decisions if the organization is to grow and they are going to make a difference. We must let others take leadership themselves, even if it means they fail at first. This way, we multiply the organizational leadership and we enjoy greater success!

6. Unable or Unwilling to Make Hard Decisions Leadership is all about making decisions. People in non-leadership positions don’t like to make decisions because they operate from a subjective viewpoint. They aren’t thinking about the overall health of the organization; they are thinking about who might get offended or who might lose their job. While we want to be sensitive to these things, great leaders understand that sometimes hard decisions have to be made for the sake of the organization—and they make them.

7. Trying Not to Have Casualties This may be the greatest leadership lesson we’ve ever learned. Great leaders know that anytime the organization makes ground, there will be casualties. In the movie Gladiator, the lieutenant comes to tell Maximus that the troops are not fully ready for battle. Maximus sees that the other side is about to move and that if they don’t move first, they will lose the war. The lieutenant begins to say, “The casualties will be too great,” but Maximus finishes the lieutenant’s sentence so that instead he says, “The casualties will be ‘acceptable.’” Any time a group moves ahead, that is bound to happen. We shouldn’t look for or enjoy casualties, but we should understand they will assuredly come and accept them. So move ahead!

These are just a few of the mistakes that poor leaders make. If we stay aware of them, we can be assured we won’t repeat those mistakes. Here they are again, stated this time as what we should do:

1. Ride the momentum.
2. Don’t flaunt the privilege of leadership.
3. Pick people who are better than you.
4. Have a second in command who complements you.
5. Give power away.
6. Make hard decisions.
7. Allow for and accept that there will be casualties.