Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Second Ring of Total Commitment

In order to be a highly effective and successful self-action leader, it is absolutely essential to be crystal clear on what your values are, and, even more specifically, how (in what order) you prioritize those values.

For example, second only to my relationship with Deity and my corresponding theological beliefs and faith, my WIFE and CHILDREN are my most important priorities and the greatest treasures in my life. Everything else is tertiary to these priceless and precious human beings with whom I share a deep, meaningful, and loving relationship.

Today's blog post shares a specific example of a new Positive Cue I recently began utilizing in my own personal exercise of Self-Action Leadership as it relates to the love I feel and the commitment I have made to my three KIDS. Make sure to read to the article's end if you want to hear the unique story of how this unfolded.    

Before we get to that point, however, you may be asking yourself: "What is a Positive Cue?"*

Great Question!   

Self-action leaders use World Altering Strategies* in the form of positive and negative "cues"* to promote and inspire desirable behavior. In Volume Two of the Self-Action Leadership textbook, it reads: 

"Just as an architectural firm seeks to invoke a professional, pleasant ambience with its interior and exterior designs, you can create an environment that inspires and uplifts you as a self-action leader ... [by] employing world-altering strategies to remove negative cues and add positive cues to your environment."**

Removing negative cues involves getting rid of visual, auditory, or other sentient triggers that might tempt you to engage in behaviors you're trying to avoid. Adding positive cues involves decorating your environment with tangible reminders aimed at promoting healthy and productive actions and goals. For example, if you want to cultivate a healthier diet, don't fill your pantry with junk food or browse the Internet for dessert recipes. Instead, prepare healthy snacks, visualize yourself achieving your goals, and fill your mind with images and successful stories of others who have accomplished what you desire to achieve.  

I displayed this goal above my desk in my bedroom the summer before
my junior year in high school. On October 30, 1996 I accomplished my
goal at Sugar House Park and Highland High School in SLC, Utah.
Since I was a little boy, I've always been inspired by the concept of World Altering Strategies in the forms of positive and negative cues. Consequently, I've often been motivated to adorn my personal work and living spaces with pictures, posters, awards, quotes, symbols, goals, and other visual reminders of what's most important to me. These visual cues help me stay focused on my vision, mission, values, and goals. Purposely decorating your personal living and working space in purposeful ways can provide YOU with similar benefits. 

Maximizing positive cues while minimizing or eliminating negative cues from your environment will help you develop the habit of positive visualization. This, in-turn, focuses your mental energy on solutions and successes rather than on problems and failures. It also helps you rid yourself of negative self-talk. Perhaps most importantly, it assists you in maintaining an ongoing vision of what you want most in your life, relationships, and career. Stephen R. Covey calls this process the "mental or first creation," which, according to Covey, always precedes the "physical or second creation"*** of whatever you seek to make real in your life. In other words, envisioning yourself mastering a task is a prerequisite to actually doing it well.

As avid readers of the Freedom Focused blog know, I have been a stay-at-home Dad for the past FIVE (5) years. As a result, I have spent a significant amount of time and energy raising my three children, currently aged seven, five, and two. In the New Testament, Jesus taught that "where your treasure is, there will your heart [time/effort/focus] be also" (Luke 12:34). I have found this statement to be true; not because I am a Christian believer, per se, but because the love and affection I feel and extend toward my children is unquestionably deeper, greater, and more sincere and authentic in 2021 than it was in 2016.

Why is this?

It's pretty simple, really. The answer is: because I have spent thousands of additional hours serving and otherwise living for my children since I became a stay-at-home-dad.

As human beings, we tend to love those people and things we serve and live for; and the more we serve and live for someone (or something), the more we come to love them (or it). This phenomenon is a classically simple and highly satisfying metaphysical example of Newton's first law of motion, which states: to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When you reach out toward and serve someone else, your heart ends up changing (improving) towards that person—even if the other person rejects or rebuffs your outreach.  

My three kids playing in the fighter jet at the
"Airplane Park" in Artesia, New Mexico
Last year our family lived in Carlsbad, New Mexico for about ten months before moving permanently to Florida. During the time we spent in the dusty deserts of southeast New Mexico, I took my children on several trips to a park in the nearby city of Artesia. The kids and I refer to this particular park as the "Airplane Park" because it has a skeletal structure of an Air Force plane on which the kids loved to play.

Another area of the Airplane Park we enjoyed was the swing set. Until just recently, this particular park sported old fashioned, steel-made, bucket-type swings that my little son Tyler Jordan loved to swing on. 

One day, while pushing Tyler in one of these antique swings, I noticed a golden ring on the ground at my feet—right there in front of the swing set. After stooping down to pick it up, I realized it was a "REAL" wedding ring of some quality and heft, and likely at least partly gold in make. The ring was a size or two larger than my own wedding band, and was therefore too loose for the ring finger on my right hand. However, it fit perfectly on the middle finger of my right hand. 

Because of its probable worth, I didn't feel right about just keeping the ring. So, I contacted the Artesia Daily Press—the local newspaper covering Artesia, New Mexico—and purchased a brief advertisement in their classified section to announce my discovery of the ring. My goal was to find its rightful owner if possible.

After two weeks had passed without any responses to my advertisement, I concluded it was fair and reasonable to invoke the "Finder's Keepers" rule. In so doing, I determined I would begin wearing the ring on the middle finger of my right hand for the foreseeable future as a dedicatory "Positive Cue" reminding me of the importance of, and my love and adoration for, my three children, as well as the eternal commitment I have made to them as their father. It was, after all, at the Airplane Park while pushing my young son in a swing that I had happened upon the treasure.  

One of the exciting things about marrying my wife, Lina, back in 2008 is that I could begin wearing a wedding band on my left ring finger. In my opinion, there is nothing else in life quite as wonderful as marriage and romance, and the opportunity to wear a tangible symbol of the love, commitment, attraction, and adoration I share with my beloved and chosen companion has always been a great privilege and honor for me.

Second only to the wonder, excitement, and joy of romance and marriage is the fun, joy, love, and satisfaction I experience being a father to my three wonderful children.

As such, it dawned on me that it would be very appropriate to begin wearing another ring—on a different finger on my other hand—as a symbol of my everlasting love for and commitment to my three kids. In my view, this new practice of mine completes the familial tradition of wearing a marriage band. Instead of just one reminder (positive cue) to continually remind me what is most important in my life, I now have two. Now every time I see or touch either of these rings—which occurs numerous times each day—I am reminded of what matters most to me in my life.  

And on a point of far lesser importance, I also think it looks really cool to wear the second ring! I've always liked the color appearance of both yellow gold and silver/platinum/white gold, and now I get to sport a little bling from both precious metal colors on my hands.  

I intend on wearing both of these rings for the rest of my life. That way, I have a tangible reminder (positive cue) right at my fingertips (literally) to help me remain true, faithful, and completely committed to the people that matter most to me in my life—my WIFE and KIDS.  

What positive cues could you add to your person, living space, workplace, or environment that would help you to stay focused on what matters most to you? 

What negative cues could you eliminate from your person, living space, workplace, or environment that would make it easer to avoid temptations and other negative thoughts, speech, and behavior?  

I invite you to take stock of your personal, familial, and professional surroundings and then take a concrete action (or two, or three...) to decrease the negative cues and increase the positive cues in your own life and career.  


Tune in NEXT Wednesday to learn what it means to Be Worthy of Your Sufferings.  

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Article Notes

* Neck, C.P., & Manz, C.C. (2010). Mastering Self-Leadership: Empowering Yourself for Personal Excellence (Fifth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

** Jensen, J.R. (2019). Self-Action Leadership, Volume II: An Action Research-Based Character Development Model. Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Book the Fifth. Chapter 7. Page 143.

*** Covey, S.R. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. New York, NY: Fireside. Page 100.  

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