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Blog Inspiration

The Horn and the Dragon

(This post was originally posted in 2012 or so… but I’ve updated a bit. It’s interesting how I find recurring themes in my writings… Common struggles and but also hard fought victories. )

It was the summer between high school and college.

Part child and part man was I…

Preparing for the unknown future, I wanted to hold onto some of my past.

My decision, similar to many others’ my age, was to get a tattoo.

It was to be a mark of independence, a symbol of my passion…

The idea wasn’t truly serious until I ran across this poster outside of Trappers Alley in downtown Detroit.

It looked to be some type of Chinese or Japanese artwork. A colorful scally dragon curled up with a trumpet at its mouth.

…an ad for some musical or opera.

And it was astounding!

So after seeing that poster, I was certain its image would be permanently branded on my chest reminding me to never again turn from my love of the trumpet.

Fast forward fifteen or so years.

I’m sitting in a little restaurant enjoying my tempura shrimp rolls and my guest is telling me his thoughts on tattoos.

I share with him my story of how I “almost” got a tattoo.

(Yeah, I changed my mind – but that’s another story).

The interesting thing was that he gets all prophetic on me.  

Some how saw a connection between the tattoo and how I was living presently.

From his perspective, he aligned the trumpet with my marketing company, and then the dragon to my personal growth content.

He told me that the “dragon playing the horn” was like using my marketing skills to broadcast the personal growth related content, clients, and products.

Fascinating!

You see I’ve struggled for years on how to bring more integrity and unity with my life.

Instead of having my passions take the back seat via an unknown blog, (formerly dyingempy.com) and having my day job/company assume the majority of my time and energy, but lacking passion.

What he saw was a unity or integration of my private passion and public occupation.

The dragon was playing the horn

Could the passion, power, and message that fuels my life, be leveraged by my businesses ability to make noise and get attention?

Could my dozen years of learning and consulting marketing/web/design services all be a preparation that I would end up turning on its head and begin spreading my own message?

It’s kind of like the Bible story of Joseph serving time in Potiphar’s house and then jail, managing and leading — all of which prepares him to manage the most powerful nation of the world through the catastrophe of drought and famine.

Perhaps your life has been going in a direction different than your hopes or plans.

Perhaps you’ve made decisions based on just getting by and thought your dreams were sacrificed indefinitely.

Hold on.

You can never know how things will end up.

Like Joseph, you too must be faithful where you are.

Do your best with what you have, and stay hopeful.

Hope will allow you to see and take advantage of opportunities as they come.

Discouragement, bitterness, and criticism will blind you to the value of your life’s story and hinder you from receiving the gifts that lay right in front of you.

I believe every part of your story, your experience, passions, and skill can eventually come together in a meaningful way.

Just don’t settle. Keep growing.

Create a Great Day! – AC

Check out my book! Only $1 (for limited time)
18 Clarifying Questions for Personal Growth

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Blog Inspiration

Has Your Hard Life Made You Stronger?

Or are you more bitter? More critical, cynical and judgmental?

Or are you more resilient? Do you get offended less because you’ve been struck down but not destroyed?

The Bible says that a righteous man falls seven times but he gets back up. Is this you? Do you refuse to quit trying? Do you refuse to stop getting back up?

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This quote inspires me! #ultrarunning

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Three Millionaires on God, Purpose & Our Work

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Over the past few weeks I’ve had the privilege of sitting in the company of a few very successful business owners. I even high five’d a billionaire during my morning run last Saturday, but that’s didn’t turn into any conversation… not this time. 😉 

So as I listened to these men, each said a phrases or conveyed ideas that will stick with me for quite sometime.

One thing I am always trying to balance or figure out is how the pursuit for success fits with the pursuit to completely live out the life and calling of God. Now I do realize and am learning that there is no perfect answer, nor a simple solution – but that doesn’t stop me from asking questions and looking for new ideas. 

So here are three very different ideas that each help me and I hope will be helpful to you…

1. Balance your life; not your day or week

Success or achievement rarely happens while trying to be balanced. Trying to give every area equal time and energy will keep everything at a mediocre or status quo level. Success happens from a consuming passion and an all out focus. And then, after a level of success is obtained, or failures happen, the person then surveys their life and begin spreading their time and wealth in areas neglected or lacking.

This realization I got from the movie: The Ultimate Life, which may still be in theaters. The movie is a fiction, but my conversation was the guy who wrote the book from which the movie was taken.

 Balance your life; not your day or week

2. Find God’s nature in your choice of work

He was originally a pastor, but later created, bought and sold over a hundred business and isn’t even 50 years old yet. He said when he decided to create his first business he wanted to choose a industry or service in which he could see God’s nature. And for him that originally was the staffing business.

In whatever work we do, if we can find God’s nature in our chosen field, we then can give ourselves wholeheartedly to it. It doesn’t have to be a non-profit or missions work to feel we are making a difference. 

From the movie Chariots of Fire:  ”I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Find God’s nature in your choice of work

3. Use your business as the vehicle to express all your God given talents and gifts

When I spoke with this particular millionaire, he explained how when he was young, he was involved in many different projects. However, there came a point when he had to make a decision and commit to his main business and let all his other projects go. Now, twenty years and six million dollars later, he is finding his one business is the vehicle to express all of his ideas, gifts and talents.

The key here of course is the trust, the commitment and focus. The bonus is the faithfulness of God. Everything you dream can be expressed through a business that has been invested in long enough to reach maturuty. 

Use your business as the vehicle to express all your God given talents and gifts

——/

I hope one or of few of these ideas inspires you with your work, dreams or business or life with God. 

Create a Great Day!

Arvell

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3 Options on failure

1 – Never Fail

You’ve made fear and or security your god.
You’ll never attempt much, never experience or learn much and thus never grow or go anywhere significant.

2 – Fail Once
You’ve taken failure to mean permanent rejection. 
You see life as still images and miss the motion picture. 
You’ve been lied to. Everyone you envy, covet or aspire to become like experienced more failures than you can imagine.

3 – Fail Often, Fail Forward
You will love the life you’ve lived; and not just endured the circumstances given.

You only quit when your values change, not because you ran into a dead end. And your values change because you’re going to something new, not escaping something old.

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PERSPECTIVE : I went to Nashville once

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I use to write songs and wanted to see if I had the chops to get approval from Nashville.

They told me some songs like mine were suited best for the genre: friends and family.

I never went back.

Today recalling the event, I see it in a new perspective.

I can say “I went to Nashville once” the same way another person can say “I started a business once”. Or “I applied for a job using my degree once.”

And then of course, our story leads into what we now do and perhaps how former plans were just unrealistic dreams.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have regrets; just perspective. 

I’ve spent the past 6 years running a business that consistently provides for my family and partially provides for a few others. 

I have hardly any remembrance of the many people who denied me their business. Not that it didn’t happen, but because it has happened so many times and yet, I move forward to the next possible yes.

My friend Roger went to Nashville once. 

And after a few years he packed up a moved back to Tulsa. 

But then, three months ago, unlike me, he moved back and returned to Nashville. 

Perspective shows me now, only the things we’re willing to fail at and try again are we worthy of having.

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BIG ANNOUNCEMENT – My First Product

Years ago, when adulthood was first budding and aspirations were as tall as mountains I dreamed of writing books.

In my early years of college I was swept away by a world of inspirational writing that claimed I could be different; even better than who I was.

Those marketers of the imagination and heart persuaded me to be believe I could achieve great things with my little life.

From that moment I knew, no matter what I did for a living, in addition to making money I would eventually write, speak and build organizations that would develop people.

The first step was always to write a book. 

But it’s been over 10 years since those euphoric days and I’ve yet to have a book completed. Last year I even told me myself to stop trying to do anything special, but just finish one “bad book”.

I’m still working on that bad book.

Then came 2013, the year I would finally DO STUFF. Make and ship stuff! 

I decided to leave the grand ideas for the TED speakers while I just did small and simple things. 

How about, instead of writing a book – publish ONE PAGE!

Yep, it’s not a book, an iPhone app or non-profit organization.

It’s a poster— taken from a blog post I wrote called: “If it’s important.”

Below is a link to view or  buy it

If you wish to support my efforts, please buy it or share it. 

And if you can tweet or email me a photo of it on your wall, I promise to give you my next product for free. (Likely a t-shirt.. or maybe that bad book.)

If It's Important - POSTER
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Depressed, Forgotten or Learned

When you have a setup back or disappointment, you can respond to it in one of three ways.

First option is to become depressed. I know no one wants this option, and we could all say from outside the situation that we aren’t going to do this. But in reality, the more highly we think of ourselves, the more likely we can become critical, negative and condemning. Perfectionist — yeah, this is where you’ll likely end up.

The next option is to forget about it. Act like it didn’t happen. Bury it and keep on walking. This is very likely an option for people who have much experience with failure or hard times. This is where I shifted after always feeling bad for not living up to my ideals. I realized that God’s not condemning me, so why not just act like it was nothing…

The problem is how can we learn from it, if we act like it didn’t happen?

This leads us to the last option which is learning from it. Processing what we went wrong. Reflecting on our decisions, analyzing the context which allowed the setback to happen. If we can take some time to investigate the incident from a few different angles, we’re likely to gain some insight.

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Become a finisher

Some people soak, ingest and wallow in the output of others. They can sing or rap a dozen lyrics of the most popular songs. They can quote lines from the academy award winning films. They have twitter alerts setup to better recruit or trade their fantasy football teams…

Some people ideate, imagine and journal a whole host of innovations. Every new idea is like a double shot of espresso, sending them in circles with excitement and frenzy…

Finally, some people just do, ship things and produce things. Maybe not the most creative or original. But they get things done while their friends are internally critical, cynical, jealous or unaware.

I know everyone can’t be and won’t be a “finisher”. Just like everyone will not be an entrepreneur — and everyone can’t be the leader. 

Some people will be followers. Some people will be the employees. Some people will be the crowd.

But if we have an idea, a dream, a gift, a talent or assignment — we can be many things in many seasons. But before our life ends, we must eventually become a finisher. Not a professor, perfecter or expert, but a finisher. 

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Lifestyles of Distraction and Drain

My Commit App ping’d me daily asking if I was going to write, but unfortunately I ignored it. Preparing for a two-day cross country drive followed by a two week vacation had drained me. Like yesterday’s washcloth hanging on the side of the tub, my creativity’s been dormant and dry. My scenario only lasted a few days, but I wonder about those who condone lifestyles that keeps them distracted or drained from progress. Oftentimes it’s not drama or crisis, but just rings, pings and buzzes from the handheld attention vampires we’re all conditioned to react to like the blazing siren of a speeding police car. But the more serious I get about taking my values and priorities serious, the more aware I become of the large and small addictions that get in the way.

The same could be for deciding to change your diet for weight-loss or change your speech to be more affirming instead of criticizing. Neither our past nor our environment will create a yellow brick road for walking into a changed lifestyle.

But after we start taking actions congruent with the new person we’re choosing to be, only then will we realize the world will get along just fine without the old us.