Olaolu Ogunyemi is a loving husband, father, teen mentor, and U.S. Marine Officer with a deep passion for working with children fueled by an unending supply of energy and imagination! Since he was young, Olaolu has been nicknamed the "life of the party" because he pours his exuberant personality into everything he does. As the fifth of six children, he became intimately familiar with the bond forged during quality story time; thus, Olaolu was inspired to start writing children's stories to help create loving and memorable family moments. He is the author of the Amazon best-selling children's book, "Crow From the Shadow," "Horace the Horsefly," and "Billy Dipper's Time to Shine."
Olaolu writes and speaks in a simple, easily understandable language and with an entertaining style that keeps families and listeners hooked while learning vital lessons about virtues and sparking a continuing conversation.
Olaolu is a frequent traveler and in his free time, he enjoys playing music, exercising, writing, and spending time with his family.
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My wife, Brea, called me to share encouraging epiphanies she had while repainting my son’s bedroom. It was so encouraging, that I felt sharing was the “write” thing to do. Brea took on this project to really bring my son’s room to life! There’s only one problem; although she is painting the walls green, one part of this project is giving her “the blues.” We removed a rock wall that has (unfortunately) left a few small damages. These blemishes have made the project as a “hole” impossible to finish! I guess you could say, she’s been running into a wall.
Ok she didn’t give me permission to write these terrible puns. So let’s get to the point!
Brea made her experience a parabolic teaching. Here are the main points she conveyed.
Encouraging Epiphany #1: Use the proper tools.
After recognizing the holes left by the rock wall, Brea grabbed a butter knife, some spackling, and a small square of sandpaper left over from previous projects. This was definitely the economic solution which is usually my favorite because I’m cheap! In this case, there were better tools available. In fact, the wall repair patch kit came with a tub of spackling, a putty knife, a sanding block, and a self-adhesive mesh patch. She chose these tools because they were more easily accessible (i.e. she had to search for the rest of the wall repair kit.)
How does this apply to life?
Raise your hand if you’ve ever used a tool or resource not because it was the best for the job, but because it was convenient? *I just raised both of my hands!* For example, when Brea and I clash, the convenient tool is Facebook. I can vent my frustrations and get everyone to empathize with me. I’m sure that would (at least temporarily) make me feel better, but it would likely damage my relationship. The proper tool is a one-on-one communication session with Brea or even a guided session with a marriage counselor. This may not give me the immediate results I crave, but it gives me the best long-term results that I need.
Encouraging Epiphany #2: Follow the proper steps. Don’t Rush!
Patch, spackle, sand, prime, and paint. That is the order Brea knew to follow if she wanted to complete this project. She also knew that skipping or rushing through any of those steps could slow or impede progress. Of course like many of us who are eager to see the end result of our projects, she rushed anyway. She patched the hole and used her butter knife to cover it with spackling. Then, she waited until the next day, sanded with her tiny sanding square, primed, and painted. She definitely did all of the steps in the proper order, but there were a couple of problems. You could still easily see some of the holes, and for those you couldn’t see, you could see the glob of (now painted) dry spackling. “I guess I thought I could just paint over it and it would be smooth,” Brea said. Definitely not the desired end state.
How does this apply to life?
Whether we are working to improve a relationship, forming a new habit, battling an addiction, or doing anything in life, we know there are several steps we have to take to be successful. Failing to take these steps in the proper order may initially appear successful but may cause long-term damage. Similar to what Brea described, we rush and skip steps and try to cover up our faults. Doing so only creates recognizable “blobs.” These “blobs” reveal themselves as angry outbursts, unmanageable emotions, bad habits, obsession with your physical appearance, and more.
Epiphany #3: Some damages are larger than others.
This is a rather obvious observation when you’re staring at a wall with a little over a dozen holes in it. You don’t need a ruler or measuring tape to know that some holes are bigger, some holes aren’t a perfect circle, and some holes will require a greater repair. Brea looked at the wall and made the obvious conclusion that though the holes were similar, each hole required a unique patch job.
How does this apply to life?
Observing the differences in the holes on a physical wall is easy. Recognizing our internal mental, emotional, and spiritual damages is much more complex. There is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to dealing with our internal hurts and pains. That’s why I encourage things like journaling and talking to a counselor. These are ways to capture our thoughts and emotions in a visual manner so we can address them accordingly. That initial observation is imperative before we can begin taking the proper steps towards living a better life!
I could do nothing but smile as I listened to Brea on the opposite end of the phone. It was amazing to hear what could’ve been a simple venting session transform into an encouraging interaction! I hope that these encouraging epiphanies caused you to reflect on your own emotional, mental, and spiritual “projects” or journeys. You can and will make it to a better you!
I’m in my hometown (Ruston, Louisiana) enjoying time with my family, checking out some scenery, and of course, engaging with some excited children!
Stop by if you live in the surrounding area or just happen to be passing through Ruston on I-20. I would love to meet you, sign your books, engage with your children, etc. This will be a great time for you to get to know the guy behind the big smile! 😁
Do you want me to do an in-person or virtual visit? Me too!
I would love to meet you, your class, your children, your mentees… Whoever you’d like me to meet! Go to https://parent-child-connect.com/contact to fill out the form or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to meeting and engaging with you!
This thought stemmed from some recent thinking and studying I have been doing. Karma, “what goes around comes around,” and ideas like “generational curses” have always persisted in my mind and have likely influenced the way I lead my children. It was a daunting feeling that no matter what good I did or how apologetic I was, my children could suffer from my past mistakes. Ultimately, by educating myself, I encouraged and freed myself from my past mistakes. Now, I want to provide that same freeing philosophy to you!
These ideas impact our culture.
This philosophy is pervasive as it extends beyond our individual sins to something called “generational curses.” Many pastors will quickly quote scriptures like Exodus 20:5 NLT that reads, “…I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.” They conclude that no matter what we do, we will pay for our prior generation’s sins. Some even take it further and say things like, “your child is sick because of sins you committed.” In other words, for example, we accept that if we grew up in a broken home, we ourselves will have broken homes. If our fathers were not around, we will never learn how to be great fathers. If our mothers never said, “I love you,” we will never be able to show our children affection. You see how this theology can impact an entire culture?
KARMA and Christianity
When considering this culture-impacting theology, we commonly use another word: KARMA. According to www.merriam-webster.com, KARMA is:
The force generated by a person’s actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person’s next existence.
Many Christians have adopted Karma and transformed it by saying, “you reap what you sow.” This quote is a paraphrased version of Galatians 6:7 KJV that reads: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
My clear position: the Bible does not teach Karma or “generational curses.”
This may ruffle a few feathers, but I’ll be the first to tell you that the Bible doesn’t teach Karma or “generational curses”; the Bible teaches grace. To believe that each generation must pay for the previous generation’s sins is to accept generational curses and “punishments” for our sins as inevitable. If we view something as inevitable, we spend our lives preparing for the inevitable instead of leading well and living fulfilling lives. So why do these things continue to happen from generation to generation? Because we will them to happen in our lives!
Christianity is about grace.
The story of Jesus is about grace, not tick for tack or holding sins over your head to get you back through your children. Usually, people quote Exodus 20:5 as proof. However, I have three thoughts on that.:
1. Let’s bust a myth.
Ezekiel 18:20 NLT completely debunks the myth that our children will suffer consequences for our sins. It reads, “The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness.”
Jesus also had a prolific example of this in John 9 when He healed the blind man. The disciples wondered if the man was blind from birth because of his sins or his parents sins (a reference to the old testament belief.) Jesus responded, “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins…This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”
2. The Exodus 20 counterargument.
I acknowledge that scriptures like Exodus 20:5; 34:7; Numbers 14:18; and Deuteronomy 5:9 seemingly hurt my argument, but let’s hone in on this and examine it from a practical and scientific perspective. A child receives both positive and negative traits from his or her parents. Some of these traits are genetic and others are behaviors children learn over time.
For example, if both of my parents are athletic, I will likely be athletic. Similarly, if my parents are alcoholics, I am more likely to be an alcoholic. In both cases, the child can implement behaviors to impact these likely events. If the child chooses to consume a diet of honey buns and Dr. Pepper while refusing to exercise, he or she is less likely to be an athlete. A child has a better chance of not becoming dependent upon alcohol if he or she is treated for alcoholism before his or her brain’s biochemistry is altered. So it’s not the punishment for sin that transcends generations, it is effects of sin that transcend generations.
With that in mind, the above scriptures are a forewarning that we must be aware of the affect and influence we have on those we lead. However, the message of grace says that God still loves us and wants us to reconcile with Him no matter what we do. So if you choose to follow Him, there is no condemnation or looming punishments for your mistakes. (Romans 8:38-39; Romans 8:1) Does that mean we can live a life devoid of consequences? Absolutely not! For example, if you mistakenly fall asleep while driving, you will likely still have negative consequences. My point is God is not waiting to punish you and your children for your mistakes once you have repented. Through His sacrifice, Jesus accepted that punishment for us.
3. What about reaping what you sow?
I challenge you to go back and read each time the Bible mentions sowing and reaping in context. For example, in Galatians 6, the Bible continued to explain in verses 9-10:
My prayer for you.
My prayer is that my countercultural philosophy gives you hope. Your parents’ mistakes do not predetermine your fate. Your child’s fate predetermined by your mistakes. I wholeheartedly denounce unbiblical teachings of Karma and generational curses. I reject the attitude of defeatism that says, “my children will fail since I made so many mistakes.” Will your children sin and make mistakes? Yes, as we all do. Our job is to teach them the right way with our example. We will break the “generational curses” with a decision to use the many available resources out there to live more healthy and fulfilling lives. Live free from guilt and fear. Lead well!
You are breathing heavily, your heart is racing, your nose is flared, your body is tense, and you continue to replay what happened over and over. You’re disappointed, embarrassed, and most of all, angry. You know forgiveness is the answer, you have to demonstrate grace, and you must return to your jovial demeanor, but your continued rush of emotions seem to make it impossible to move on. You want to participate/contribute to the world continuing around you, but you do not know how to return. Your smile is broad but forced, and your words are few and shallow. You feel old instincts or habits returning that would satisfy your primal desires to express your anger but leave you hollow when you finish. You want to isolate yourself and not be bothered because you are mentally exhausted from giving everything you’ve got and receiving little in return.
Yeah, I’ve been there plenty of times. In fact, I wrote the above paragraph when I was angry. Those were my actual feelings and emotions at the time. The “old instincts or habits” I was referring to involved me lashing out on people, throwing stuff around, yelling into my pillow, or hitting or kicking an inanimate object (like a wall) which, in turn, caused me bodily harm. I used to tell people I had “anger issues,” which means that was the identity I assumed. It was a harmful stereotype that I willingly accepted. Anger and my subsequent response became addicting, so I knew I had to change.
Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. However, many of us give up control of our response to anger. So that’s where we will focus today.
The anger stimulus-response model.
Frank Esser published an insightful article at the University of Zurich entitled, “Stimulus-Response Model.” Therein, he states, “Similar to higher animals, human beings are endowed at birth with a uniform set of instincts that guide their ways of responding to the world around them.” He continues to explain how mass media manipulates this instinctual behavior–which he describes as the stimulus-response model–to produce enticing content. Today, I want to offer a way that we can manipulate this same instinctual behavior to change our response to anger.
How humans differ from other animals.
Stimuli are events in the environment that influence behavior. Today we refer to these as “cues” and “triggers.” Unlike other animals, the beauty of human beings (or homo sapiens) is that we can influence this stimulus-response model through the application of free will or choice. In other words, where other animals instinctually respond to the stimuli around them, our brains are able to critically think about the various stimuli and develop a response based upon the environment we are in.
For example, when we feel hungry but we are on a diet, we are able to suppress those hunger pangs. Similarly, when we feel sleepy but we are driving, we choose to stay awake because it is not the appropriate time to sleep. Dr. M. Scott Peck has a funnier (but true) way to describe this phenomenon in his book, Further Along the Road Less Traveled: The Unending Journey Towards Spiritual Growth.
People sometimes ask me the most impossible – for example. “Dr. Peck, what is human nature?” And because my parents raised me to be an obliging child, I try to come up with answers to such impossible questions, and first answer I give is: “Human nature is to go to the bathroom in your pants.”
It really is. That is exactly the way each one us started out, doing what came naturally and letting go whenever we felt like.
Further Along the Road Less Traveled: The Unending Journey Towards Spiritual Growth by Dr. M. Scott Peck
As proven by millions of potty training toddlers each day, we have the ability to influence our personal stimulus-response cycle. Because of the brain’s plasticity (ability to change and adapt), we are able to develop “neural pathways.” According to https://www.merriam-webster.com/, a neural pathway is “a series of connected nerves along which electrical impulses travel in the body.” This is an important concept in psychology because these neural pathways are our brains’ way of automatically responding to stimuli (which is received by one or more of our five senses).
For example, when I smell food (cue) after I have gone a few hours without any (cause), the response is usually a growling stomach (reaction). So, I decide to turn into a restaurant parking lot in response to my hunger pangs. As I prepare to turn, I observe a car speeding up (cue) to prevent me from turning first (cause). My automatic response is to become irritated, shake my fist, and yell, “you idiot!”(reaction) Get this, the only intentional or “conscious” decision I made in this process was to go to the restaurant. The rest was predetermined by the neural pathways I developed over time. This is one of our brain’s many efficient ways to save energy.
How to develop neural pathways to change our response to anger.
1. Take inventory. Identify cues (events that signal the brain to react), causes (reasons why the cues exist and trigger certain reactions), and reactions (the actions you take as a result of the cues).
For about a week, I want you to do the same thing I did in the above scenarios. Don’t cheat, justify, judge yourself, or change anything. Just record your cues, causes, and reactions to as many automatic processes as you can–especially those that ended with you being angry. If you happen to be driving at the time, turn on your voice recorder and do a voice log. Whatever you do, it is important that you capture as much data as possible.
2. Limit or eliminate the cues.
Of course this is easier said than done in some cases. In my above scenario, I cannot remove the people who will cut me off in traffic. It would be absurd for me to think or suggest otherwise. However, there are many other examples of cues we can either limit or eliminate. For example, I already know there are certain times of day where I will be hungry. If my goal is to avoid eating out to save money, perhaps I can avoid driving down “restaurant boulevard” during the times I’m likely to be hungry. This simple rerout will avoid the luring smells, giant pictures of food everywhere, and the entertaining guy with the sign advertising my favorite happy hour sale.
The book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear describes a similar concept to remove negative habits. Since we naturally gravitate towards the more convenient option, make it harder to encounter your negative cues.
3. Identify the cause.
This is the psychological step, and it feeds your cues. This step is extremely important because there are many cues you cannot limit or eliminate. Even if you could, I have always advocated for running towards something, not simply avoiding things. The cause is what gives your cue relevance. That’s why this step is arguably the most critical.
We can start with the most rudimentary example. I felt the urge to go use the bathroom (cue). Why? I am doing the gallon-a-day water challenge to ensure I get an adequate amount of water each day (cause). Of course, we know the reaction is to actually go to the bathroom.
Let’s look at the other scenario. I observed a car speeding up to cut me off (cue). Earlier I identified, “to prevent me from turning first” as the cause. Some of you probably scratched your head wondering how that caused the cue. Allow me to explain.
In my mind, this fella personally attacked me! Although it was my turn to go, he intentionally sped up to prevent me from turning. In doing so, he delayed my day. What an idiot!
I know I’m not the only one who has thought this before. Seeing some of the drivers’ reactions in Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. earlier this year proves me right!
4. Address the cause.
Regardless of how many of you agree that the above driver is idiotic, our assumption that the driver personally attacked us is irrational. But to strengthen our argument, let’s say he did personally attack us. My mom used to tell me, “if you let people know which buttons to press to make you angry, they will press them every time.” In other words, some people get a thrill out of seeing you angry. I believe they crave the ability to control you.
Whoa, so these external factors (including people) want to control you?! That’s right!
5. Regain control.
If you haven’t noticed by now, a cue with no cause produces no reaction. In other words, the way you perceive your cue is what causes the reaction.
Capture your thoughts. This means we have to be active in our approach. Don’t just allow your thoughts to run wildly because those thoughts feed our emotions and those emotions feed our actions and those actions feed our identity. This is why we started by taking inventory. SEE what you think. That means we are creating a new cue to gain control of our reactions.
Ask the 5 Whys. In “How do you Respond to Rejection and Failure?” I introduced a concept called the “5 Whys.” Simply put, this is how we get to the root of our perspective. This time, instead of using the Stone Cold Steve Austin fan approach of asking “why,” I want you to ask, “why does this matter to me?” I’ll use my “cause” from above, but I challenge you to use your own “cause” list.
That guy cut me off!
Why does this matter to me?
Because it was my turn!
Why does this matter to me?
Because it isn’t fair.
Why does this matter to me?
Because he’s taking advantage of me.
Why does this matter to me?
Because I’m tired of being taken advantage of.
Why does this matter to me?
Because I know my worth, and I don’t like when people make me feel like I’m less than I’m worth.
Reframe your thoughts
I believe we’ve made it to the root, and from that root spawns many thoughts, emotions, and causes. Take that root to your counselor and work with him or her to develop new neural pathways. For me, I’ve worked to reprogram that cue. So instead of yelling and shaking my fist at the guy who cut me off, I use that cue as a reminder that I am worth a lot, and no one (including the random people I encounter in traffic) can take that away from me. In doing so, I have intentionally changed my response from anger to calmness and happiness.
This isn’t magic or just some feel good mumbo jumbo. Trust me, developing new neural pathways doesn’t happen over night. Just keep practicing and give yourself some time.
Change = Steady progress over time
I want to end with this analogous encouragement. When hiking a mountainenous trail, you may be confident and sure of your next step, until that next step causes you to slip and fall. Stand up, brush yourself off, and keep hiking. Regain the momentum that you started building before the slip. When you start again, your legs may feel a little stiff, you may feel embarrassed, and you may be a little bruised from the fall, but keep hiking. This is especially important to remember in the beginning when you fall multiple times. Remember this, you may have lost a little momentum, but you didn’t lose progress. In other words, the only time you lose progress is when you intentionally turn around and hike back downhill (relapse).
You are reading this because you want to change and/or improve. Stay focused and keep progressing towards a better you!
Whether you are a parent, teacher, mentor, or in any other leadership position, there is one thing that we all need: discipline! We need self-discipline and must demand discipline from those we lead (that includes our children).
The first image that pops in my head when I think of the word “discipline” is the iconic U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor. That’s partly because every drill instructor probably says the word a million times. In fact, one of the first things the senior drill instructor tells his or her recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (aka “boot camp”) is, “Discipline and spirit are the hallmarks of a Marine. Each one of you can become a Marine if you develop discipline and spirit.” Although it would be the absolute worst time to ask, a recruit may be wondering, “Sir, what is discipline?” So that’s where I will begin.
My thoughts on discipline.
As a guy who grew up in the south, I have always heard, “spare the rod, spoil the child” or as Ms. Trunchbull said in Matilda, “My school is a model of discipline! Use the rod, beat the child, that’s my motto.” Both of these are a spin off of the biblical verse in Proverbs 13:24 that says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
I recognize that I probably just split my audience in two. One group’s pants just dropped as they ripped their belt from their waist and said, “that’s what I’m talking about!” The other is ready to just stop reading and give me a thumbs down. Either way, I am here to neither condemn nor endorse a particular disciplinary method. My goal is to simply provide my take on discipline. After you finish reading, I encourage you to research and develop disciplinary methods that will work for the people you are leading.
What is “discipline”:
My thoughts on discipline are a result of several things. First, my upbringing and life experiences as a U.S. Marine officer, parent, and mentor. Next, the books I’ve read like “Quiet Strength” by Tony Dungy , “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership” by Colin Powell, and many others. Most recently, I discussed discipline in my home Bible study group with other U.S. Marines (who happen to be special operators and fathers themselves).
Discipline is both a noun and a verb that is defined in numerous sources as “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.” In verb form, there is an even more direct definition that says, “punish or rebuke (someone) formally for an offense.”
Seems pretty clear that discipline is all about training by applying painful consequences!
Before we commit to that logic, let’s take a look at the root of the word.
The word “discipline” is from the Latin word “discipulus,” meaning “pupil, learner.” “Discipulus” is also the source of a familiar English word “disciple” which means “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” As you continue to follow the word “discipulus,” you will find it also produced the Latin word, “disciplīna” which means “teaching, instruction, branch of study, orderly conduct based on moral training.” Here’s where it gets interesting, “disciplīna” produced the Middle English word “discipline” which we have already defined. The interesting part is now the word “chastisement” or “punishment” was introduced in 13th century religious practices. To me, that means the word lost its purity over time as various teaching methods were introduced.
My counter cultural belief.
Aside from quotes like Ms. Trunchbull’s in the early 1990s, you will hear quotes like “pain retains” when discussing discipline today. Even so, I submit that if we truly want to achieve the ultimate goal, which is for our followers to develop self-discipline, we must return to the root of the word. With that in mind, my belief can be summarized by the quote below.
I believe the above authors would agree that punishmentcreates immediate conformity, but again, the goal should be self-discipline, which is a long-term objective. I define self-discipline as the continued application of lessons learned regardless of the circumstance or level of supervision.
My personal example
Sometimes, immediate conformity is necessary. For example, my 3 year old was innocently wandering towards the street. I rushed over, physically stopped her, and sternly commanded, “do not go into the street!” After doing this three to four times, one would assume that discipline by physical means or punishment was achieved. To that, I’d agree. My daughter (the pupil) has learned that I am willing to use physical force to immediately stop her from walking into the street. Many leaders would stop there–assuming the child has received the appropriate instruction and has adequate discipline. The immediate question I would ask is, “what happens when Dad is not around?”
In this case, I needed instant conformity to stop my daughter from wandering into a dangerous situation to prevent a potentially fatal outcome. However, as the instructor who is looking to help the pupil develop discipline, my work does not stop there. I must help her accept my teachings by making it relevant to her. Then, and only then, has she achieved self-discipline. In this example, I showed her how fast the car is going and explained how dangerous it is to walk into the road. When we passed vehicle accidents, I showed her how people could get injured and how vehicles were ruined. Now, she corrects me if she doesn’t see me check both ways before crossing the road. Self-discipline has been achieved.
Effective discipline leads to self-discipline.
If discipline is training your followers to accept what you or your organization believe to be right, then (as I said before) self-discipline is the consistent application of these lessons regardless of the circumstance. For example, I wasn’t the best free throw shooter in high school. In fact, I shot around 65-70% accuracy. I remember the coach telling us, “free throws are FREE!” In other words, the free throw is the only uncontested shot in basketball.
Of course like many other teams, we ran for missed free throws. Though it helped me get in better shape, running had very little impact on my free throw shooting accuracy. What forced me to change was my realization that my poor free throw shooting could be the difference between a win and a loss. That realization encouraged me to practice. Many great free throw shooters will tell you that the secret to shooting more accurately is to do the same thing every time. That means from the way you wipe your sweat to the way you bend your legs to the way you breathe to the way you release the basketball. These factors (and more) contribute to your accuracy. My free throw shooting percentage significantly improved when I learned to consistently apply my coach’s shooting instructions. This is what developing discipline is all about–consistently applying instructions regardless of circumstances for your benefit and the benefit of the entire family or organization.
How to lead others to develop discipline.
I wouldn’t dare claim this is an all-encompassing list, but here are my thoughts on how you can lead others to develop discipline.
1. Set the example!
One of my favorite phrases is, “more is caught than taught.” In other words, people want to see their leaders practicing what they are teaching. Leaders must have self-discipline before they can discipline others.
2. It’s a team effort.
In case you haven’t realized it yet, you have an integral role in helping others develop self-discipline. I know Hollywood would have us believe that we can climb Mount Fuji shirtless to find ourselves and develop discipline, but that’s not reality. For example, U.S. Marine Corps drill instructors don’t allow recruits to just wander around for thirteen weeks until they find this mythical thing called “discipline.” The drill instructors lead the recruits on a physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional journey and allow them to graduate once they demonstrate self-discipline.
3. Repetition is key.
I elaborate on this in a previous blog post entitled “Establishing Winning Habits.” Therein, I said, “You are what you repeat.” Which means we have to teach our followers to practice applying the instructions we provide. That is the only way to influence habitual behavior.
4. Be consistent and persistent.
I have had the opportunity to peak behind the curtains at Marine Corps boot camp. From that experience, I can tell you that some recruits require longer than thirteen weeks to develop self-discipline. That means that some recruits graduate with a different company than they started with. However, as long as the recruit (pupil) refuses to give up, the team at the Marine Corps Recruit Depots will continue to lead that recruit. This same logic applies to any pupil. Everyone is different, so that means you may have to train them longer (or shorter) than you expected. Remain consistent and persistent in your teachings.
5. Reward and hold accountable.
There are numerous studies that conclude that living beings respond positively to being rewarded for doing well. But, we cannot ignore the other half of the equation–accountability. Celebrate successes and quickly correct deficiencies. That is the best way to ensure someone accepts your instructions.
6. Prioritize education and explain the “why.”
This is one of the most important factors to encourage others to accept your instructions. As a leader, telling your followers what to do is easy, but great leaders understand that educating followers by explaining the “why” is what allows the followers to consistently apply the teachings regardless of the circumstance. Help your followers understand why your instructions are relevant to the family or organization as a whole, and help your followers understand why your instructions are relevant to them individually.
There are a few key points that I want you to take with you today. Self-discipline is the ultimate goal. That requires leaders to lead their followers on a journey towards developing self-discipline. Along this journey, it’s imperative that leaders research and develop disciplinary methods that will adequately contribute to the overall goal. In the end, discipline is what will ensure your family’s or organization’s success. It is up to you to instill that discipline.
Today is a great day, because I get to introduce two new FREE downloadable resources to my lineup! Both of these journal-style guides are created to help you along your mental, spiritual, and emotional journey! And since I was feeling so good, I decided to add a BONUS to help you along your physical journey!
What’s the catch?
I wanted to put the “catch” up front, because that’s where I prefer it when I read headlines like this. Of course I would love for you to peruse the website, buy a couple of books, and subscribe to my email list; HOWEVER, there is no catch! Navigate to https://parent-child-connect.com/free-resources/ and click “download.” In fact, I will even include download links in this blog post.
Wait, why would I do that? It’s simple: I care more about providing usable resources than anything else. Or “#purposeoverprofit” as I say on social media. Having a huge mailing list and selling a bunch of my awesome books is great, but I am committed to making parent-child-connect.com a one-stop-shop for everything you need to be inspired, resourced, and empowered to lead your children! So if that means I have to make a line-up of free downloadable resources, I will!
With that in mind, feel free to subscribe and check out my books (whether in my store or on Amazon).
Now, let’s talk about why you’re reading this: the FREE Downloadable Resources!
Welcome to the The Road to Financial Success guide! The “road to financial success” is always a hot topic, but many of us still find it hard to manage our finances. I mean really, it is such a thrill to find a good sale, right?!
Yep, it’s all fun and games until we blow a proverbial tire (i.e. we run out of money before we run out of bills). That’s usually when reality sets in.
Some of us have no problem avoiding sales because we hate large crowds, standing in line, keeping up with the latest trends, or spending money in general… But then here comes this old crazy lady named “Sallie Mae” who just wants to rob us blind for trying to better ourselves. Trust us–been there, done that, and paid enough for thousands of t-shirts but ol’ Sallie never sent us one.
We’ve got news for you: there is hope! We are going to give you some tips that will put you well on your way towards achieving financial success! Just think of us as your friendly roadside assistance technicians. We will help you change that blown tire and navigate towards a bright financial future! And get this: none of this is a secret! Many people (including us) have embarked on this challenging but exciting journey and have come out better. Share this guide with everyone you know, and let’s journey towards financial success together!
Welcome to the four-day “Distractions Causing Distance [From God]” journal!
There is no greater oxymoron for people-loving extroverts (like me) than “social distancing!” Society has adopted this methodology to keep us safe, but I—like most—miss sharing the love of God through a warm embrace.
What if I told you that there is a type of “distancing” that [ironically] can actually cause us harm? That is a distant relationship with our heavenly Father.
There is hope! Join me in this four-day devotion as we discuss how to defeat three daily distractions that distance us from Christ!
This is one of my most common questions. That’s ok, download anyway! I’m not here to attempt to convert you. I’m using my personal spiritual beliefs as a foundation for the practical advice I give. With that in mind, my advice has universal application regardless of your religious beliefs or affiliations. If you believe you were created for a purpose greater than yourself, this journal is for you!
This has been one of my most popular blog topics, so I figured I should make it a downloadable resource! I created this workout plan for a U.S. Marine who wanted to improve his pull-ups and upper-body strength. Since I receive this question so often, I knew it would be a popular topic! Enjoy!
Welcome to the #DEFEATTHESHADOW Journal! You may have noticed that I vaguely defined The Shadow as any opposing force that exists to stop us from achieving success in my best-seller “Crow From the Shadow.” This resource teaches you how to defeat The Shadow and achieve success!
The strategies in this journal will help you regain control of your choices and your destiny! This is an excellent resource for all ages, so parents, teachers, and mentors, feel free to use this journal to guide your children on their own personal journey toward success! Ultimately, I want everyone to understand, YOU determine your own future!
The Three Day Mental Health Guide: Major Payne Edition
Welcome to the Three Day Mental Health Guide: Major Payne Edition! In this guide, you will learn strategies to raise mentally tough children. I initially created this guide with the “father-son” relationship in mind; however, I quickly realized that readers can apply the strategies discussed within to any relationship!
This guide is broken into three different sections: Day 1-“A Tough Topic;” Day 2- “Time to Break the Mold!;” and Day 3- “The ‘Major Payne’ Leadership Model.” On Day 1, we focus on the importance of discussing mental health—a topic that is considered taboo in numerous homes. On Day 2, we dispel the myths associated with society’s view of masculinity and mental toughness. Finally, on Day 3, we discuss the “Major Payne” leadership model that we can apply to be effective leaders. Each section ends with a prompt to get your wheels turning.
Parents, teachers, and mentors, this is an excellent resource for all ages so feel free to use this guide to lead your children on their own personal journey towards excellent mental health. Together, we can build mentally tough children who excel at whatever they put their minds to!
Welcome to the fourth and final day of “Distractions Causing Distance [From God]!” So far, we have learned about God’s free and freeing love, eliminated worry, and disconnected from the things that take away all of our time (See the other three days by clicking here!). Now we are going to tackle our third and final distraction–you are what you eat!
Distraction #3: You are what you eat!
Don’t worry, this isn’t health 101 where I judge you for your vice in the kitchen. Quite honestly, I don’t do as well as I should when it comes to eating right–whether we’re referring to physical food or mental food.
While I was meditating on this topic, I John 2:15-16 NLT became the focal point of my devotion. It says, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.”
So what is the Bible telling us? Does this mean we cannot enjoy the pleasures of this world? Of course we can! In fact, God desires that we laugh, eat, and enjoy life! So what is the Bible saying? The Bible is telling us to avoid becoming enamored with the physical pleasures of this world. In other words, we should pursue our purpose in God and the upbuilding of His kingdom. Though enticing, pursuing physical pleasures distracts us from achieving what God wants us to achieve and drives a wedge between our relationship with Him.
My moment of self-reflection
In my moment of self-reflection, I realized while I am distracted by my continuous craving for/pursuit of the physical pleasures of this world (like great food, accolades, keeping up with the Joneses, and being the “first to know”) I could be praying in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion–staying alert and being persistent in my prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18 NLT). While I am constantly seeking to obtain my oral fixation, I could be doing what Jesus instructs us to do in Mark 9:29 when He healed the boy that was possessed. That is fast, pray, and meditate on Christ. While I am constantly feasting on the negativity of the media, I could be “Fixing [my] thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think[ing] about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 NLT
What we eat, becomes who we are.
The “old folks” used to say, “you are what you eat.” In other words, choosing to enjoy healthy physical and mental food increases energy and brain function, and it improves your overall mood.
But what happens when you feast on negativity? It leads to the following in the spiritual realm:
Indigestion: We reject wise advice and biblical teachings and turn to “strange doctrines” for hope and guidance.
Heartburn: Our hearts are burning with anger, rage, and hatred for others instead of burning with compassion for the poor, widowed, and sick.
Diarrhea of the mouth: Instead of being silent and patient, we are quick to vent our anger/frustration and our disdain for others but slow to talk to God.
I Corinthians 6:12 NLT does an excellent job of summarizing this last point by saying “You say, I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.” We must choose to avoid becoming a slave to our appetites! Let’s pledge to make sound choices with the physical and spiritual food that we enjoy.
I am confident that if we apply the basic principles that we have discussed the last few days and avoid these distractions, we will begin to live more healthy and whole lives, build better relationships, and most importantly, draw closer to God. I am excited and proud that we serve a God that can be described like this: “there’s no shadow He won’t light up, no mountain He won’t climb up coming after me. There’s no wall He won’t kick down, no lie He won’t tear down coming after me!” I said all of that to say, with all of our daily distractions, our loving Father is still there, waiting on us to reconnect with Him. So my question to you is, will you defeat these distractions and reconnect with God?
Father, we honor you, we praise you, and we thank you for your Word. Thank you for being a great God! Now Father we pray that over the next few days, weeks, and months we become less distracted with our daily lives, and more focused on you. And ultimately Father, we pray that everyone reading these words can feel your unfailing, unwavering, and never ending love. We magnify your Holy and Righteous name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Welcome to day three of “Distractions Causing Distance [From God]!” In yesterday’s devotion, we discussed how how to defeat worry! Today, we will introduce our second distraction–the need to disconnect.
Distraction #2: Need to Disconnect
Now that we are free from condemnation and we have kicked worry to the curb, let’s talk about another distraction that becomes more complicated everyday. A lot of us are distracted by the need to disconnect.
So I had to do some self-reflection to prepare for this one, and I ask you to join me. Take out your phone, tablet, or whatever device you use, and list out all the applications that take time from your day. My list went like this: Instagram, Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, XBox Live, Zoom, Marco Polo, GroupMe, LinkedIn, news app, weather bug app, and Gmail. Wow!
That was alarming to me because there are still only 24 hours in a day (and I spend about 16 of them either sleeping or working)! With that in mind, I felt a little better because my research told me that I am not alone. In fact, a recent study showed that the average American checks their phone 96 times a day or once every ten minutes. To compound this issue, social distancing and quarantines have given us an even more insatiable desire to remain connected and socialize.
It is very apparent how this distraction has caused distance, because, as I said before, there are still 24 hours in a day!
So how do we disconnect so that we can focus on God? Well, I will start by saying, we talk/socialize too much and oftentimes, it is done in the wrong way.
The right to speak is important; saying things at the right time in the right manner is even more important. Proverbs 13:3 says, “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.”
So how do we defeat this distraction?
Watch your words. Words matter because words mean things. Proverbs 15:1 NLT “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
Say less. Connect less. Be Wise. (Proverbs 17:27 NLT) “A truly wise person uses few words…”
Words are like dollar bills. They should be spent wisely because we cannot take them back. Yep, that means even on social media…especially on social media! I am not saying we should not socialize/connect, but when done in excess, it drives a wedge between us and God. Simply put, we just don’t have time for God.
Don’t look like a fool. Mark Twain said it best, “Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” Because we are so connected, we often find ourselves caught in constant debate (most times publicly). Which leads me to the last tip to fight this distraction:
Three T’s to check before you speak: Time… Type… Tone
Time: Is it the right time to speak or should you just be quiet?
Take inventory.How much of your time have you spent socializing in comparison to growing your relationship with God?
Type: Ephesians 4:29 NLT says, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
What kind of Conversations are you having?Are you giving encouraging words to everyone you encounter?
Tone: Are you addressing the situation in the best manner possible? Are you using the “gentle answer” described in Proverbs 15:1?
Think about these things and challenge yourself to disconnect from the rush, rat race, and rigmarole of life. Disconnect from distractions so you can reconnect and build a healthy relationship with God.
Father, thank you for your grace, mercy, and kindness towards us. We realize that busyness, drama, and life circumstances constantly pull us away from you, and for that, we apologize. Father, give us the strength, wisdom, and wherewithal to disconnect from the many daily distractions we encounter so we can connect to you. Thank you for continuing to love us! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Welcome to day two of “Distractions Causing Distance [From God]!” In yesterday’s devotion, we discussed how God’s love causes us to be free! Today, we will introduce our first distraction–worry.
Distraction #1: Worry!
“Will my family get sick? Am I doing all I can? What will we eat? What do others think about me?…” If we are honest, some of our minds continuously reverberate with these kinds of questions daily! The second our feet touch the cold or carpeted floor in our bedrooms, our minds begin to race. Usually this race persists until we finally return to bed at the end of the day. The unfortunate truth is our minds naturally dwell on difficulty and troubles which distract us from the important things in life like developing our relationship with God, family, and friends! So let’s take down our first distraction–worry.
When I began meditating on this topic, three scriptures immediately came to mind. First was Matthew 6:27 NLT that asked, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Then, Proverbs 12:25 NLT reminded me that “worry weighs a person down.” Lastly, Jesus told us in Matthew 6:34 NLT “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
The Word is abundantly clear about worry, and we all know that increased worry causes increased anxiety which causes increased mental and physical health concerns…So why do we worry? Why don’t we simply adopt Timon and Pumbaa’s slogan and lifestyle? You know, Hakuna Matata!
Well, I will start by sharing how I [falsely] justified my worry:
A little worry combined with fear is my instinctual way of emotionally preparing for the worst outcome. I am like a gazelle on a Safari! My worry and fear keeps me from being consumed by the lion (life). Right? WRONG. Along with the increased physical and mental health risks, worry was increasing my paranoia. Simply put, my physical presence was not a “gift” to my heavenly Father, family, friends, and work colleagues because I was so busy worrying about being consumed by life that I was not building healthy relationships and enjoying life!
My worry allowed me to thoroughly analyze a situation to develop a well-rounded solution. Solid logic right? WRONG. Worry primarily focuses on the “difficulties and troubles” (negatives) associated with a situation; thus, my perception and analysis is skewed to focus solely on the negative outcomes.
Those are my [busted] myths associated with my worry. Take some time to examine your own myths… then bust them!
Now that the jig is up and we have eliminated our excuses to worry, let’s answer the million dollar question: “How do we combat worry?”
The million dollar answer is that we must fully understand and appreciate this fact: You are what you THINK!
A fairly recent study following tens of thousands of people found that those who were optimistic had a significantly lower risk of dying from several major causes of death, including: heart disease, stroke, cancer (including breast, ovarian, lung, and colorectal cancers), infection, and respiratory diseases.
Sounds like a pretty clear answer to Matthew 6:27!
The study concluded that several proven benefits of thinking positively include:
Better quality of life
Higher energy levels
Better psychological and physical health
Faster recovery from injury or illness
Lower rates of depression
Better stress management and coping skills
Longer life span
I’ll take the benefits please!
Now that we understand the importance of positive thinking, how do we put it into practice?
1. Make a concerted effort to focus on positive things.
This is a tough one for us because sometimes you just want to sulk. In my personal life, I found a way to justify sulking. I felt that I deserved to be frustrated and disappointed! “Coincidentally” my Pastor emailed me to remind me that though the overall circumstance may appear to be negative, I can choose to dwell on the negative aspects of the circumstance or fix my thoughts on the positives. Yep, it is a choice!
Try this! Write down three positive things about your current circumstance! Even if the list starts with “I am breathing,” celebrate the fact that you are still alive with an opportunity to make it through this circumstance with an amazing story to tell!
2. Practice gratitude.
Practicing gratitude has been proven to reduce stress, increase your self-esteem and the self-esteem of those around you, and foster resilience amongst you and your inner-circle. Every day, find no less than three things to thank God for (and thank Him) and find no less than three things to thank others for (and thank them). When offered an opportunity to complain and criticize, thank! When you think of the positives, thank for the positives.
3. Now that you have recognized and shown gratitude for the positives, create and maintain a gratitude log.
Label it, “People and Things I am grateful for.” I know. I know. It sounds corny, but it works! Maintain your log in a place you visit often, and keep focusing on that growing list.
4. Open yourself up to humor.
Laugh a little! I heard someone once say, “if you’re happy and you know it, tell your face.” We cannot allow life to beat us down so much that we walk around like a bulldog eating lemonheads (just picture that for a second–maybe that was your laugh for today). Take out time to enjoy the pleasures of life. God has always intended for us to enjoy the pleasures of life. I mean, think about how beautiful the Garden of Eden was! We were designed to be happy. So take a second, look in a mirror (or prepare for a selfie with your electronic device), and make the biggest smile you can! Now let the brightness of that smile, your positive thoughts, and your attitude of gratitude melt the negativity away!
5. Check your inner-circle!
You are who you hang with. In the country, the old folks would say “if you hang with stray dogs, you may catch fleas!” Spend time with Positive Paulas versus Debbie Downers. Think back to my story about my Pastor. Had he begun to sulk with me and feed my negative thoughts and emotions, I may not have survived that circumstance. Remember this, Debbie Downers wallow in defeat, while Positive Paulas bask in triumph!
6. Start off on a positive note by practicing positive self-talk!
Instead of beginning with worry, begin with a prayer, devotion, meditation, and affirmation or declaration that you will have a positive day. Then carry that declaration with you throughout the day. As you walk into a situation that appears negative, say to yourself (or aloud if you’d like) I will see the positive in this! Still have that mirror or selfie handy? Let’s try this right now! Smile, say something positive about yourself, and make the declaration that, “I will see the positive in every situation!”
I believe that these steps will not only eliminate worry, but these steps will also foster a more healthy relationship with God and everyone you come in contact with!
Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to see another day and meditate on your Word. You are truly our source of happiness and strength. We pray for your forgiveness for failing to see your beauty in every circumstance, and we ask you to help us to fix our thoughts on you! In Jesus’ name. Amen
I wrote this devotion early last year, and now I want to share it with you! Be blessed! There is no greater oxymoron for people-loving extroverts (like me) than “social distancing!” Society has adopted this methodology to keep us safe, but I—like most—miss sharing the love of God through a warm embrace.
What if I told you that there is a type of “distancing” that [ironically] can actually cause us harm? That is a distant relationship with our heavenly Father.
There is hope! Join us in this four-day devotion as we discuss how to defeat three daily distractions that distance us from Christ!
Be Free from Condemnation!
We are currently living in unprecedented times! We have wildfires, a pandemic, social unrest, and the list goes on and on. During these times we may feel a bit distant from Christ—I know I have felt that way plenty of times. In fact, there were times that I felt I really wandered away from Christ! Is that you right now? Do you feel like you are too far gone to pray? Are you so overwhelmed with your guilt and shame that you cannot feel the love of God? Are you having a hard time connecting through God’s Word because of mistakes you have made? I understand; I have been there.
The last time I was in that moment—sulking in embarrassment and guilt—God freed me through His Word by reminding me of His grace, love, and compassion. So I have a quick opening message for you even if you are feeling distant right now—our heavenly Father loves you unconditionally,and He still wants a relationship with you!
Before we can learn to defeat distractions, we must be free from our own condemnation (very strong disapproval; punishment) and truly understand and embrace God’s love for us. Let’s talk about God’s love for a bit.
God’s love is free(ing):
Ephesians 2:8 AMP tells us, “For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God.”
I absolutely lovefree stuff! I know most people call me cheap, but don’t judge me. For example, one day while I was in college, I ordered food at a drive-thru restaurant. I was very excited to get my go-to college student value meal. When I approached the window to pay, the young lady said, “Your meal has already been paid for.” I would’ve done a flip in excitement if I were skilled enough to do so without injuring myself. “Wow!” I thought, “Why would a stranger give me a free gift?”
When I reminisce on that day, I realize how happy that free meal made me (I saved about $3), but when I think about the free gift that Christ gave us (He saved my life) exuberant joy begins to overwhelm me. You know what’s amazing? Christ gave us this free gift because He loves us and this undeserved gift frees us from the oppression (control) and judgment associated with sin. Now that’s a double-double to get excited about! So don’t beat yourself up when you mess up. Ask God for forgiveness, brush yourself off, and be free!
God’s love is unexplainable:
John 10:11-18 reminds us that our heavenly Father has given us an unexplainable (and seemingly illogical) love. Imagine this, you are sitting in an open field watching sheep. The weather is beautiful, and you are basking in the sun while enjoying an ice-cold cup of lemonade. Out of nowhere, a wolf comes to take one of the one hundred sheep you are watching! I know what you are thinking, “well, 99% isn’t bad!” I mean really, who wants to fight a wolf for that one sheep? The Good Shepherd does.
He is always willing to lay down his life for us and will even leave the ninety-nine to save the one [wandering] sheep (Matthew 18:12)! My human mind cannot comprehend that kind of love, but I am extremely grateful that Christ is willing to sacrifice for you and me!
God’s love is unconditional:
Now this aspect of God’s love is truly amazing! We humans tend to have a limit when dealing with others. “You better not cross my [proverbial] line or it is over…dead…finito. You will henceforth and forever be excommunicated from my life!” Yep, God is definitely not like us, and here comes the amazing part: in God’s eyes nothing can separate us from His love!
Paul asks in Romans 8:35 NLT, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” Then he answers in verse 39, “No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Read it again! No matter where you are from or what you have done, nothing can separate you from the love of God!
Walk confidently today as you embrace God’s amazing grace and love! Never again condemn yourself for your mistakes—instead embrace the free, unexplainable, and unconditional love of our heavenly Father!
Heavenly Father, thank you for the free, unconditional love that you have given us. Though we can never truly comprehend it, we know that your love and grace is what allows us to be free from the crushing oppression of sin. Father, please forgive me for the things I have done that were not pleasing to you, and help me to overcome the temptations that arise today. Father, thank you for removing the guilt, shame, and condemnation from my life and preparing me to grow closer to you. Amen.