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Leadership, Personal Development, Read Everything
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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before January 1st

Right after Christmas is a big reflection time for me. I usually plan for it weeks in advance. It’s a time to take stock of all that’s been done over the past year. I celebrate accomplishments. I repent of failures. I make plans to increase my WINS and cut out my biggest weaknesses. Since beginning this discipline, December 26th through 31st has become something very special. Here are some of the question I ask at the end of every year. How would you answer them?

1. What was my biggest success in 2014?

What was the biggest touchdown for this past year? Maybe it was a promotion you’ve been hoping you would receive. Maybe it was the birth of a child or a friendship gained. Whatever it is, celebrate it as much as possible. You did it! You earned it! You gained it! If we never celebrate our accomplishments we soon forget why we work so hard to achieve them.

2. What was my greatest challenge in 2014?

Where did you miss it? What went wrong? What about this past year still makes you cringe a little? It’s important to give those things proper time and thought as well because you cannot change what you haven’t identified. The first step to becoming better is realizing where you are. Be honest with yourself. Where do you need need the most growth?

3. What do I need to do more of in 2015?

It’s been said many times over that we all need to “work in our strengths and staff our weaknesses”. What did you do well in 2014 that you should really focus on in 2015? Maybe you starting blogging and really enjoyed it. Maybe you began exercising, spending more time with friends, or started a weekly family night. What WINS do you need to carry into 2015?

4. What do I need to do less of in 2015?

Working overtime. Procrastinating. Skipping important events. Neglecting your faith. Wasting too much time on social media. (ouch). Whatever it is, what do you need to put the brakes on in 2015?

5. What would make 2015 a success?

I’m one of these people who still believe New Year’s Resolutions can work. However, not according to the old methods. Many people set out with a list of things they are going to start on January 1. This year they are going to do 10 things… and… here we go. No preparation. No thought went into it. Just somehow plan to make it happen.
One year I said I was going to go on a crash diet and lose 20 pounds in two months starting January 1. All the way up to midnight of December 31st I ate like a monster. It was awesome… sort of. I ended up so sick I couldn’t eat until January 3rd. Then, all those sugar cravings came back with a vengeance and before lunch, it was over. The next year I made the same goal. However, this time I made a plan which started a week before and had been well thought out. The result was shedding 60 pounds by the end of the year.

Make a goal for 2015. No more than 3 though. Then take time to systematically figure out how you can make it happen.

Here’s an example:

YEARLY GOAL: Loosing 30 pounds

SUB-GOAL ONE: Develop a new eating lifestyle you can stick with. (There are a lot of plans so this will take a while to find out what works for you.)
SUB-GOAL TWO: Journal about my journey everyday.
SUB-GOAL THREE: Re-search what a healthy average amount of weight loss looks like for someone like me. (Most experts say that you should really try not to loose over 2 pounds a week. You’re age, sex, and boy type all play into that as well.)
SUB-GOAL FOUR: Figure out what type of exercise regimen works for your lifestyle.
SUB-GOAL FIVE: Do monthly inventories.
SUB-GOAL SIX: Chart your progress.
SUB-GOAL SEVEN: Find accountability. (hang up a shirt you want to fit into and try it on each week. Tell your friends to ask you tough questions often. Start a blog and tell the world what you are doing. etc)

… I could keep going but you get the idea. Real life-change doesn’t usually happen with one decision. It’s usually happens with one decision followed by a lot more decisions that keep you on track.

 

So above are some questions I ask at the end of every year to keep myself honest and moving forward. What do you do? I’d love to hear about it.

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3 Best Christmas YouTube Videos From “The Piano Guys”

The YouTube Channel “The Piano Guys” is awesome. These guys really know how to make music epic. I highly recommend them. Here my three favorite Christmas videos:

 

Angels We Have Heard on High (Christmas w/ 32 fingers and 8 thumbs)

 


 

Carol of the Bells (for 12 cellos)

 


 

O Come, Emmanuel – (Piano/Cello)

 

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Leadership, Personal Development, Read Everything
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Top Five Apps for 2014

I admit being an app junkie. I don’t really get into games but I love apps. It’s amazing that there are apps for just about everything. With technology moving at such a fast pace there’s no telling what’s just over the horizon.

For this year, here are my most used apps…

1. EVERNOTE

I think you have one of those days when you loose all your files before you can truly grasp the awesomeness of Evernote. Evernote is cloud based that help me keep things out of my mind and written/filed somewhere.

As it says on it’s website:
“As one workspace that lives across your phone, tablet, and computer, Evernote is the place you write free from distraction, collect information, find what you need, and present your ideas to the world. Whatever you’re working toward, Evernote’s job is to make sure you get there.”

I almost always have a note open on my phone so that during the week, while thinking about the upcoming Sunday Talk, I can write down any ideas that come to me. It makes putting everything together at the end of the week much easier. I can also share meeting notes and ideas with other people for collaboration. Just fits into so many areas of my life.

2. 2DO

I am a productivity app junkie. I spend a lot of time and money  constantly looking for that perfect app that’s going to keep my life scheduled and organized like never before. Sadly, that app probably doesn’t exist. However, 2Do is a close second. It fits all my needs as far as task management is concerned. The main thing for me is its sub-task capability. The more they update, they more I like it. Now if they could only do the tasks for me…

3. DAY ONE

Journal freak… right here. I love some journaling. This app is where it’s at. Completely cross platform compatible. No matter where you find yourself when your journal time comes around, it’s ready. Syncs perfectly and you can even take pictures. The only thing it lacks is the ability to do video entries. It’s coming though… ahem… are you listening app developers?

4. THE BIBLE APP

Hands Down! Best App ever. It can be a little glitchy sometimes but it’s worth it. Tons of translations. Tons of features. Tons of reading Plans. Audio Versions. It has everything. We even like to use it on Sunday’s at church for LIVE message notes. Great stuff. Highly recommend.

5. AUDIBLE

As you can tell from earlier posts, this guy is a book worm. Today’s reader is tomorrow’s leader. You use today what you learned yesterday. All that being said, the pace of my life doesn’t give me the opportunity to sit in a coffee shop and read all day. Audible has helped a lot. It’s an audiobook site with very reasonable price plans. Now I can listen to my next book on the way to the office or while running down the road. It will even play books that are in iTunes so you can play books not bought through their company. Sweet.

6. NEWS360 / NEWSY

I’m not the guy who gets up early in the morning just to catch the local news. I usually catch it while waiting for my email to load or in line waiting for my coffee. Therefore, I need apps that can let me quickly scan headlines. I want to quickly get past what celebrity just had a baby and go right to what’s going on with ISIS. Both these apps get it done.

Well these are six of my most used apps but not all of them.

What are your most used apps?

Maybe you have discovered something I need to be using.

Don’t forget to like and share this video. It lets me know what content people like to ready.

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Personal Development, Read Everything
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Favorite Pandora Stations of 2014

What is Pandora?

They say it best on their site:

At Pandora, we have a single mission: To play only music you’ll love.

To understand just how we do this, and why we think we do it really, really well, you need to know about the Music Genome Project®.

Since we started back in 2000, we have been hard at work on the Music Genome Project. It’s the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken.
Together our team of musician-analysts has been listening to music, one song at a time, studying and collecting literally hundreds of musical details on every track – melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics … and more! We continue this work every day to keep up with the incredible flow of great new music coming from studios, stadiums and garages around the country.

With Pandora you can explore this vast trove of music to your heart’s content. Just drop the name of one of your favorite songs, artists or genres into Pandora and let the Music Genome Project go. It will quickly scan its entire world of analyzed music, almost a century of popular recordings – new and old, well known and completely obscure – to find songs with interesting musical similarities to your choice. Then sit back and enjoy as it creates a listening experience full of current and soon-to-be favorite songs for you.
You can create up to 100 unique “stations.” And you can even refine them. If it’s not quite right you can tell it so and it will get better for you.

The Music Genome Project was founded by musicians and music-lovers. We believe in the value of music and have a profound respect for those who create it. We like all kinds of music, from the most obtuse bebop, to the most tripped-out drum n bass, to the simplest catchy pop tune. Our mission is to help you connect with the music YOU love.

We hope you enjoy the experience!

Said simply… It’s INTERNET RADIO designed to bring you MUSIC YOU LIKE.


 

Here were some of my favorites this year:

1.  Praise and Worship: Hillsong Young and Free

It’s no secret. I’m a huge Hillsong fan. They’ve been my favorite since Darlene was singing “Shout to the Lord” on every album. Recently they’ve released a new and fresh sound called “Hillsong Young and Free”. It’s great. This channel mixes in some of my other favorites like All Sons and Daughters and Jesus Culture.

2. Holiday: Rockin’ Holidays Radio

From December 1st till 25th it doesn’t change much from this station. This year has probably been the best because they have really mixed a lot of great Christmas genres into one place. They have everything from Bing Crosby to Chipmunks to Straight No Chaser. It’s great.

3. Nostalgia: John Williams

John Williams is responsible for some of the best movie scores of our generation. Some of the movies he’s collaborated with include Hook, Star Wars, War of the Worlds, Harry Potter, etc. Mix in some other great composers and you’ve got a great time. You’ll music from movies like Star Trek, Gladiator, Interstellar, Hunger Games and so many more.  I love listening to this station and trying to guess what movie the piece comes from. It’s fun but really challenging sometimes.

4. Comedy: Tim Hawkins

The Bible says, “Laughter does good like a medicine.” (Prov. 17:22) I try to make sure I laugh every day… whether I need it or not.  This station does it for me. Tim Hawkins is a situational comedian and he’s great at making you laugh at yourself and just not take life so seriously.

5. Random: Disney Radio (Game with Kids)

Music is one of my ‘great loves in life’. I’m trying to start my kids in that direction as early as possible. I play a game with them where we turn on this station and figure out if we like the song or not. Then we have to say why we did or didn’t. It extra fun they know the song from a movie. Before long Ensley is dancing and Ellie is describing what part of the movie it’s from. Always fun.

5. Guilty Pleasure: 90s Hits

I’m a product of the 90s so… there it is. I remember when my parents use to say that real music was back in the 70s. I said, “You’re just old and out of touch.” Now my kids probably will that about me soon. It’s hard to beat the songs from the 90s. Don’t get me wrong… music sounds much better now. It’s just that all those old songs have so many memories attached to them for me.  GunsNRoses, REM, Smashing Pumpkins, TLC, BoysIIMen, Nirvana… that’s my jam. Gosh, I feel really old right now.

WANT TO TRY PANDORA… CLICK HERE

So these were mine. Did I miss a good one? What are yours?

Don’t forget to share your favorites with me in the comments below.

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Book Reviews, Leadership, Personal Development, Read Everything
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TOP 10 Books I Enjoyed Reading in 2014

I am a self-admitted veracious reader. John Maxwell always says:

Readers are Leaders and Leaders are Readers.

After first hearing that quote a few years ago, I made it a goal to read about 40 books a year. I don’t always hit that goal but it’s always good to have one.

The books I read are not limited to non-fiction, self help books. Some of my favorite genres would have to be leadership books, mystery fiction, and historical biographies of great leaders.  My reading taste is really all over the place as you will be able to tell below.

Here we go. My TOP TEN favorite books this year in NO PARTICULAR ODER:

 

41BOOK ONE: 41: A Portrait of My Father

BY: George W. Bush

LINK: http://goo.gl/n9phLp

Info: I’ve always been a George Bush fan. He’s probably the best foreign policy president we’ve had in a long time. One of the things I admired about him the most is how he led by cultivating great relationships with people before asking them to follow. The world went too long without his memoire. While this isn’t that it is a great book about his life from the view of his son and former president George W. Bush. I especially loved all the little humorous comments and anecdotes Bush Jr put in the book about his mother’s famous bluntness and sense of humor. Barbara Bush deserves a book all by herself but for now, this will do.


allegiantBOOK TWO: Allegiant (Divergent Series)

BY: Veronica Roth

LINK: http://goo.gl/7DvXGc

Info: I had to finish the series. Don’t judge me. This book was probably my favorite of the trilogy mainly because it was finally over. Any series like this will be compared to the Hunger Games books and still a flash back to the Harry Potter series. People are always looking for the next big thing to get on board with. To me, this series wasn’t ‘all that’ even though the idea behind it was great. In the end, Allegiant served it’s purpose of keeping me distracted during those long training runs while I prepared for my first marathon. Hated the ending though… all I’ll say..


unbrokenBOOK THREE: Unbroken

BY: Laura Hillenbrand

LINK: http://goo.gl/YfE5TE

Info: This book needs it’s on blog post. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. First, I’m a sucker for good biographies. Second, I love a good story. Third, I love my faith and enjoy hearing about others who embrace faith in their lives. This book had all that and more. The author did a masterful job painting an early picture of a troubled Kid-Louie. Then, after everything he went through, the story ends with him investing back into troubled kids… awesome full circle. That’s just the beginning. There’s so many layers to this story.  What’s not in the book is that Louie tried for years to get his story out to the world. It wasn’t till the end of his life that everyone began to take notice. So, the only sad thing is he wasn’t able to receive the accolades he deserved.  Can’t wait for the movie to come out.


killing.lincolnBOOK FOUR: Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

BY: Bill O’Reilly

LINK: http://goo.gl/I1yw3q

Info: It’s a shame that many people will not read this book because Bill O’Reilly wrote it. Abraham Lincoln is my favorite president so when I heard Bill had combined well documented facts and new discoveries into one book written with the feel of a reporter telling the story as if it just happened… I’m in. I enjoyed the way he crafted the telling of all the events leading up to the assassination of Lincoln. There were several facts about Mary Todd Lincoln, Lincoln’s cabinet, his generals, etc. that really gave extra color to the story.


unleashBOOK FIVE: Unleash: Breaking Free From Normalcy

BY: Perry Noble

LINK: http://goo.gl/zLMii7

Info: Love him or hate him you have to admit… Perry Noble is real! He’s a breath of fresh air in a world that always tries to be so politically correct. His common sense approach to faith and life is probably what I love about him the most. When you hear him talk it’s not hard to understand how he pastors a church that’s probably going to become the largest church in America at some point. His passion for the things that matter is amazing. This book is probably going to become an annual read for me. Loved his challenge to take the leap into what’s possible.


crashthechatterboxBOOK SIX: Crash the Chatterbox: Hearing God’s Voice Above All Others

BY: Steven Furtick

LINK: http://goo.gl/VIc9dG

Info: I’ll admit… I’ll always have a soft spot for Steven Furtick. I’ll probably read everything he ever writes. It goes back to his first book “Sun Stand Still”. At the time, I was thinking about doing the craziest thing ever with my life and was scared to death. (planting a church) “Sun Stand Still” taught me about the audacity of ‘all in faith’ and ‘going for it’ in life. Furtick’s book became my playbook for and new vocabulary for audacious faith and I still use the quote “If you’re dreams don’t scare you, they insult God.” (paraphrase) As much as I loved “Sun Stand Still”, “Crash the Chatterbox” might come close to surpassing it for me. I’ve never read an author who was so honest about his personal struggles and mental battles. Instead of making me think less of Steven it actually made me think “me too”. Loved it so much. Probably the most thought-provoking book on this list.


outliersBOOK SEVEN: Outliers: The Story of Success

BY: Malcolm Gladwell

LINK: http://goo.gl/wZhK2O

Info: This book made so much sense on so many levels. It both challenged me and helped me take a relaxing breath at the same time. No matter what you pursue with your life there are always those people who stand out as uncommonly successful. They are Outliers. People with uncommon opportunities and experiences at just the right time to make a big difference in their field of expertise. On one side it helped me say, “So it’s okay if I’m not as successful as they are. They are social oddities.” However, the question also arose, “Am I an Outlier in some way?” Loved the stories in this book.

Favorite takeaway has to be that in order to become a world class expert at something you have to apply 10,000 hours of your time working on your craft.


next.gen.leaderBOOK EIGHT: Next Generation Leader

BY: Andy Stanely

LINK: http://goo.gl/asJ7pj

Info: This will never be known as his best work but it’s one of my favorites. The main reason is because you get this sense of sitting across a table at a coffeeshop hearing Andy say these leadership ideas. He writes it as though he is pouring out practical experiences from years of leadership. Almost like he’s giving you his inside scoop on leadership life. I loved hearing him write out of personal experience and give his personal steps and guidelines. It’s a quick read and a lot of doable applications.


four.obsessionsBOOK NINE: The Four Obsessions of an Executive: A Leadership Fable

BY: Patrick M. Lencioni

LINK: http://goo.gl/pLxzni

Info: Patrick Lencioni has changed leadership writing forever. I love his approach of writing a story and drawing out leadership principles. That’s exactly what so many leadership books have been missing. There are many, many great leadership books with great theories but Patrick has helped flesh them out. By the time I finished this book, I felt as though I had been challenged and grown with the young executive. It made me want to be the kind of leader and coach the senior executive is. Great stuff.


21.laws.of.leadershipBOOK TEN: 21 Irrefultable Laws of Leadership

BY: John Maxwell

LINK: http://goo.gl/Bv9N5B

Info: I question anyone who claims to be a leader is not well read in the John Maxwell universe. If you don’t have at least 3 Maxwell books, you’re not really interested in leading. This book is now my favorite. This book and it’s companion book “21 Indispensable Laws of Leadership” make for a great foundation in anyone’s leadership life.

The most eye-opening leadership book to me is the LAW OF THE LID. If people stop growing it’s only because they’ve put a lid on their life.

 

Okay, so I took the time to give you some of my favorite books of 2014.

What do you think? Is there a book I should read next year that you enjoyed?

Tell me what you think. Also, don’t forget to share this blog on Facebook and Twitter so we can get more people’s opinions and get our 2015 reading list together.

 

 

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