Archive for May, 2009

The 7th Age Of A Business: Exhaustion

May 22nd 2009

This article is part of a series about the 7 ages of a business, an entrepreneur perspective, initially published at eDragonu.ro . The remaining 6 articles are published as guest posts on 6 other fine personal development and business blogs. You will find links to them at the end of this article.

Time For A Change

Exhaustion is by far the most difficult stage to accept from an entrepreneur perspective. Exhaustion happens when your market is so crowded that you can barely keep your profit and clients, when your employees can switch instantly from you to your competition (and vice versa), and when the market share is calculated in fraction of percents.

Exhaustion is usually the natural consequence of leadership. Every process in the world is a cyclic one and business can’t be an exception. After a high rise, a lower altitude will follow, after a huge inspiration, expiration will follow. These are metaphors for a rather harsh reality: during this stage your efforts will seem huge and your reward almost inexistent. It’s extremely difficult to accept exhaustion especially after the leadership stage when everything seemed to happen effortless.

From an entrepreneur standpoint, the exhaustion stage is much a like an old, small shirt. It simply doesn’t look good on you. You grew up and your shirt isn’t fitting anymore. Takes time to understand and accept that because we humans have a tendency to attach to our past images. An entrepreneur is often identifying himself with his business and can’t accept its decline. I know I did this mistake.

What To Avoid

Although you reached the end of the journey, there are still some things you can do to make it worse than it need to be. Here’s what I found better to avoid.

Salvage

The first reaction at this stage is trying to salvage your business. Although you came through all the stages, from enthusiasm to leadership, it seems that things aren’t running quite smoothly as before, so, you need to change something, you need to save your business. Well, you can’t. At least, you can’t go back to the leadership stage. Trying to salvage the business will often lead to risky solutions and will make it more unstable than before. Salvage will do more harm than good at this stage. The salvation process is mostly at the entrepreneur’s psychological level, the business is following a normal pattern.

Depression

That’s serious. Depression is one of the most common consequences for an entrepreneur reaching the exhaustion stage. You’re so overwhelmed with guilt and frustration, you’re trying so hard to come back on the game, you’re feeling so sad because the leadership days are over, that your psychological circuits can break. Depression is pretty common among entrepreneurs, although the images of entrepreneurs aren’t showing it. And it’s in the final stage of a business that is most likely for the depression to appear. Well, be prepared.

Conclusions

Jumping to conclusions is also one of the most common mistakes in the exhaustion stage of a business. Been there, done that, I don’t want to do it anymore. You’re analyzing your success level by the current business level. If the business is going so slow, you tend to think your success is not for real. That’s jumping to conclusion. You forgot how much you accomplished so far and tend to minimize your efforts. This is why is so important to assess your business experience during the leadership stage. Exhaustion is natural, but so is leadership, so stick with leadership and just accept exhaustion.

What To Do

Every crisis is in fact an opportunity. The business exhaustion phase is usually a powerful trigger for several really liberating activities. Here are some of them.

Exit

During the exhaustion stage and entrepreneur is almost forced to make an exit. I’m not talking about an investor or manager perspective here, which might be completely different, but about the entrepreneur’s desire to ignite things, to start something for scratch, to create. Exhaustion stage is like the click for a new adventure. I never met any serious entrepreneur who “survived” an exhaustion stage. Keep in mind that an “exit” can be done in million ways: you can sell all, just a part, remain investor, silent partner, etc.

Delegate It Big Time

If you’re not going to sell, which is highly improbable, the next best thing is to delegate it big time. Find somebody to run the business for you. It could be a person, another business (like in integrating your business with another one) it can be a group, it can be anything, as long as it gives you the freedom to start again. Delegating is not “exit”, if you’re delegating the business you’ll still have to exert some control over it, but at least you won’t be taking it as serious as before. Delegating wasn’t an option for me, after I hit the exhaustion stage I decided the best thing for me was to sell it completely. Your mileage may vary.

Accept It

That’s the most difficult yet most rewarding step you can take during this stage. Accepting that your business, your initial idea, has hit a certain level and it won’t go further will open your eyes to new roads. You can’t really run again if you don’t accept that you finished something, there will always be some lose ends that will make your running slow. Just accepting that you’ve done everything was to be done and you’re ready to start something new will be a great gift for yourself. Acceptance is the door to your new adventures. Entrepreneurship is not about money, it never was, it’s all about adventure.

Run Again

That’s the final stage of your business. It was a great journey. You started with enthusiasm, continued with a lot of trust and naivety, become attentive and then hit the maturity level. With courage and inspiration you expanded beyond your imagination and finally become a leader. It was an incredible journey.

There is only one thing that could level with that experience. And that is your next journey.

***

You can find the remaining 6 ages of your business on these fine personal development and business blogs:

Guest Author:Dragos Roua is passionate about success, and he blogs at DragosRoua to share his insights about life’s many lessons and his travels and discoveries within it.  You can subscribe to his blog with his RSS feed here or catch him on Twitter @dragosroua

Posted by Mike King under Business | 16 Comments »

Creating a Great Strategy

May 18th 2009

Strategy is an interesting topic and certainly not an uncommon one in business when it comes to planning, decisions and organizational leadership.  I am going to explore some pieces of strategy, how to develop and utilize a strategy and also extend that to other walks of life.

Timing Strategy

1019384_white_chess_army_4 Strategy is all about the future and planning for things to come.  Or is it?  Well, I think it is more than that.  Strategy certainly has the future in mind but much of strategy is about executing a plan and the methods behind executing that as well.  It is about timing and controlling decisions to follow a plan at the right points.  The timing of strategic maneuvers is often the most important point of strategic plan and unfortunately, timing is also the thing that gets in the way the most of following a strategy successfully.  Things come up, issues occur, crisis hits and needs to be tended to, there just always seems to be another urgent thing requiring your attention and time before you can get to delivering on that strategy.

Strategy often seems like its counter-intuitive with urgent day to day ongoing work.  If that is the case, I say then you have either the wrong strategy or the wrong work.  Strategy shouldn’t be something that requires alignment of the planets to find the time to work on, it should be built into your day, your tasks and a regular part of your time spent.

Developing a Strategy

In order to develop strategy so that it is timed as part of your regular tasks instead of a wishful “nice to have” then you need to develop it so it aligns with expectations and so you can align your focus at least in some part to that strategic work.

Developing a strategy requires that you step back from these all too common urgent fires and things you seem to “have to do” and look at where you want to develop yourself, your relationship, your business and career.  It requires you to look at plans from a future perspective and to consider the aspirations you have and what are the steps and plans needed to get there.  Once of the tools I’ve learned at a recent conference for strategic planning is called SOAR analysis.  It stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Opportunities
  • Aspirations
  • Results

Developing a strategic plans works well by examining each of these to ensure they are included.  Stop and ask yourself questions about each of these areas in your work or life and contemplate the answers so they can be used to formulate a plan.

Strengths

Utilize the strengths you have to ensure you are involved in areas you are competent and able.  I certainly don’t mean to limit yourself, as there is always value in stepping out of your comfort zone but strategy should be based on the strengths you have as that is your most likely area to advance the furthest as well.

Opportunities

This areas is to examine where there is a chance to progress and excel at.  These areas might be to expand existing strengths into new areas or markets and they might be to branch into new research or areas in life that are not yet ventured into.  An opportunity will offer some promise of success at the cost of some challenge to get there and is often what a strategy is formulated on.

Aspirations

Or as Jim Collins put it in his classic, Good to Great , big harry audacious goals.  These are the areas that help formulate a strategy from some dream or vision of a more idealistic situation that is desirable and sought after.  Aspirations don’t need to be future minded, they simply need to into account the dreams and ideas of what a better picture looks like, or the perfect situation for your life and career and company. They are the things you wish to happen and don’t need to be realistic or even reasonable.  They help to steer you in a direction when developing a strategic plan and to not loose sight of the dream.

Results

This area is often over-looked and it specifically helps to focus on what exactly would be going on in the way of deliverables, results and achievements if you were already in the position of the dream or visions behind a strategic plan being in place.  What is happening and what results you expect when you execute the strategic plan and successfully achieve it.  These results set the stage to include specifics in a plan so it can be more easily measured and tracked.  The results are also a promise of what is to come if you accomplish the plan.  Results are best if they are ongoing results as well, not time limited.  You don’t want a strategic initiative to immediately end when you achieve the results.  You want to envision and expect that you will continue to get those results.

Simplify Your Strategy

One of the things that often is the doom of a strategic plan is that it isn’t realistic and broken down into simple actions.  It’s often described or outlined as some lofty ambition that seems impossible to achieve and there is no obvious way to attach to the plan and become a part of it.  This is why simplifying it necessary so it can easily be understood, accepted and engaged into.  Strategy needs to become a part of normal tasks and it definitely needs to simplified so that it won’t suffer the urgent distractions offset that so easily kill strategy and meaningful tasks.  A simple strategy is one that becomes regular, easy and constantly makes visible the value and progress towards that strategic endpoint.  This may be by describing it in a way that connects it with your existing work or by making known the advantages of putting meaningful work before mundane and urgent tasks that occur.

Changing your mindset to follow a more strategic set of maneuvers can be very difficult.  For that, you must simplify it down to easier tasks and smaller pieces so that you’re not overwhelmed.

Strategy Day by Day

With a well understood strategy and having it broken down into smaller pieces you can then examine how to build strategic tasks into each and every day.  Strategy should not be separated as a seldom activity or event, it needs to fit into regular day to day actions so it becomes natural.  Strategy in business needs to involve all employees in some way and engage them by being part of their work.  For your own strategy in life or career, you need to ensure you have work that fits in some way your strategic plan so that you are working toward that accomplishment on a regular basis.

If your strategic actions are truly most important, its really a good idea to do them first.  Work away at them before anything else and put off the urgent fires until you have done something towards your strategic goals.

Strategy Answers Tough Questions

This section goes hand in hand with fitting strategy in day by day but it specially about controlling and responding to questions with your strategy in mind.  Distractions are going to come up, fires will never go away completely but you can respond to them differently.  What if you use your strategy to provide the answers to tough questions on actions plans, firefighting and urgent requests.  Use the strategy to respond to others when they request your time or service.  Ask them or for their help to decide if it is really more important than your critically important strategic plans and why it is more important that that work if something seems urgent.

I’ve personally learned that nearly nothing is as urgent as it seems and I’ve been lucky to develop a habit of analyzing requests with a longer term mindset.  I’m a product architect, researcher and product development manager in my day job and those areas tie in heavily with strategic plans so I’ve been able to adopt a strategy first attitude and response system.  I rarely put attention to urgent requests because my main work strategies are about the quality products I’m involved in building and quality never comes fast or without solid planning.  Obviously not everyone has this same strategy and some may actually have a strategy around responding quickly in their role so then responses and expectations change but it can still be done with a strategic factor in answering those tough questions of what and when to do things.  The short answer for any of these tough questions when a well drafted strategic plan exists is to always put the things that align best with a strategy before other new or urgent items.  This can only be done when a solid strategy exists, it is well understood and you are willing to execute it consistently, instead of just making it and not then actually following it.

Posted by Mike King under Business | 11 Comments »

11 Rules to Use for Effective Brainstorming

May 14th 2009

There are 3 main areas of the brainstorming process.  They are to generate new wild ideas, to build/expand on existing ideas and to capture all thoughts around the brainstormed topic.  I last wrote that doing this has 6 steps to setup an effective brainstorming session and then a number of rules to follow or use for the session itself.  That is what I will explore here:

1. Defer Judgment

1156284_innovation This is the one thing that will or break a brainstorming session.  It’s so hard to do and absolutely must be a rule you follow to keep ideas flowing and to allow people to contribute in their way without a filter applied or any kind of judgment on their ideas.  You shouldn’t moderate anything in brainstorming and really anything goes.  All ideas.  Weird, difficult, unrealistic, and any other ideas must be allowed.  These in fact allow people to be comfortable with the creative process and you want to promote and encourage ideas, not instill a fear of blurting out a dumb idea.  There is no reason to have any criticism in a brainstorming session and if you see that or moderation of ideas at any time, put an end to that and reinforce that you welcome weird and even what seems like bad ideas.

2. Everyone Participates

Make sure that everyone has a chance to participate and to be heard.  The facilitator should ask each person for their ideas and to expand on things.  Take note of the group, some people will start to lead and share more which is great but you don’t want any one person to dominate the session or you lose the value of the diversity in the group.  If the environment and tools tailor to audible, visual and kinesthetic people (as I outlined in the first article) then you should be able to easily have everyone participate.  You just need to make sure that is happening in the session and limit how much you let the dominate vocal styles contribute without leaving room for others.

3. High Energy

Energy is important to activate the mind and so keeping the group alert, energized and active helps with creative thinking.  You can do this with expression, motion, positive encouragement on every idea, toys and physical objects, and of course the facilitator should be as energetic as possible.  Speak with passion about capturing ideas and push the group to participate, keeping everyone’s energy levels up.  Provide candies, or juice or other energy foods.  You can provide wheatgrass juice, too but for that you’ll need a wheatgrass juicer. Some groups might like to brainstorm in an environment that energizes them.  Perhaps music on will help, or holding a session outdoors.  Add something to the session to ensure keep a high energy level.

4. Faster is Better

Faster is related to high energy in that if you run the session quickly, you must do this with high energy to encourage people to be quick.  However, faster also means that you want the initial ideas and reactions from people as soon as they come to mind.  You don’t even want individuals filtering or moderating their own ideas before they share them (see #1).  Spontaneity and speed is what makes brainstorming really work so do everything you can to keep the group moving quickly and going fast!

5. Quantity versus Quality

If you encourage everyone to work fast, it’s more likely that you will get more ideas.  More ideas mean more options and generally this leads to much better results.

6. Encourage Wild Ideas

Wild and audacious ideas are often needed to break from a rigid problem that has no immediate or useable solution.  Since that is where brainstorming sessions are typically needed, it only makes sense to encourage

7. Build on Each Other’s Ideas

Every idea created has the potential to build more ideas.  What one person starts with can easily be shifted or modified into a whole new idea so always encourage people to modify ideas in order to keep generating more.  If you have a low point in a session without a lot of new ideas, ask people to add ideas and changes on any of the items already captured in the session.  Ask people to think of opposites to certain ideas just to spark their thinking.  Ask questions differently even when after similar results.

8. Keep on Track

This one requires a delicate balance.  You must allow ideas to diverge to new areas that might seem off topic (at least a bit) in order to let the creative process thrive and to not stifle people’s participation, yet, at the same time, you must control the group to stay on tasks so that the focus is to solve the problem at hand.  Depending on the group and individuals, things can often lead into other problems, design work on an idea or even to evaluating what will and will not work with any of those ideas (which is also judging them again).  Anytime things diverge too far, ask the group to come back to a previous idea or new ideas back on the original problem and don’t allow any further discussion on those areas off topic.  It is the not the time nor place for that and so you must keep things on track for the brainstorming itself.

9. Short Discussions

Inevitably, the will be some discussions going on for some of the ideas and while you can’t eliminate these, you can ensure they are brief.  Discussion generally leads to designing solutions or confrontation between individuals, neither belong in a brainstorming session.  Use discussions with the purpose of exploring a subject further and to lead only to new ideas and things to capture, instead of any evaluation of an idea.  Remind the group of these items when it happens and bring it back to generating ideas.

10. Capture Everything

Capturing and recording the ideas is critical to a good brainstorming session as well.  The way you do this first of all is important and you must have a method that works live in the meeting.  You want everyone to see it as many will require that visual aid to help their own creative thoughts.  I recommend using a flipchart or whiteboard as well as sticky notes for individuals to add thoughts onto that can quickly be put up in front of everyone.

When other point of capturing ideas is to capture EVERYTHING.  This again goes back to the most important rule of deferring judgment because if you choose what to capture and not to capture from people’s ideas, you are really filtering them out and you impact those who’s ideas that were not captured and they will be less likely to keep contributing if you have “filtered” out their ideas.

11. Organize and Filter AFTER the Brainstorm

Don’t attempt to organize or filter anything while you are looking for ideas and in the brainstorming session.  This turns on logical thinking and will suppress the creative mind from producing more ideas.  Stay focused on the brainstorm and wait to do any organizing and filtering of those ideas afterwards.  If you need the same people or plan to do it in the same session make sure you have some break because switching modes as you want the ideas to stir in the minds of those involved before switching back to task mode.  Give people a chance to add more ideas in that break and to think on them individually.

Posted by Mike King under Learning | 7 Comments »

6 Steps to Setup an Effective Brainstorming Session

May 11th 2009

Several weeks ago, I wrote a few articles on Creativity (Mental , Social and Innovation ) and there are many other tools and processes related to creativity that deserve attention.  Brainstorming is one of them and in this article, I’ll look at how to set and prepare for an effective brainstorming session and in my next article, I’ll explore the rules to follow in the brainstorming session itself.

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Suit ALL 3 Learning and Communication Styles

Every individual learns differently and communicates in different ways but there are three distinct types of learners and communicators:

  • Audible
  • Visual
  • Kinesthetic

You need to ensure your brainstorming environment and process will tailor to all three by providing an audible setting (this is obviously most common in a meeting style of environment).  Also visual aids can boost the creative thinking.  Provide additional tools and visual guides like white boards, flipcharts, sticky notes and even toys or gadgets can help people be more creative.  For kinesthetic participants, they need to interact with things and have feelings during the meeting so plan to include interactive participation and ask specifically to brainstorm about feelings things will generate as well, as those feelings will lead to even more ideas!

Optimize the Environment

The environment should have the space it needs to allow people to flow around the room, just like you’ll expect from the ideas being generated.  To encourage the creative process, let people decide how to arrange the room themselves if at all possible.  Not everyone works based facing others as it’s confrontational, while others will excel from that if competition is their nature.  Some will need to see the ideas, some just hear them, so its best to let individuals arrange themselves so they are comfortable and ready to participate in their own way that works best for them.

Facilitator

A good brainstorming facilitator ideally is experienced with the process and needs to easily handle and follow the rules to ensure the brainstorming session is effective.  All these rules will be explored in the next article but in summary, the facilitator is required to engage everyone, capture notes and lead the process to ensure ideas are flowing, explored for branching and not holding up the process.  The facilitator doesn’t need to participate in the creative brainstorm but any good facilitator will do so, since they are likely a very creative thinker themselves if they’d been involved in a lot of brainstorming sessions.

Provide Background Ahead of Time

Brainstorming is about sharing, expanding and building a set of ideas on some topic.  However, not everyone will have immediate and spontaneous ideas so you should always provide some background information about the problem or topic before the session itself.  This ensures it gives attendees time to process and think about it before the session.  It will stir in their subconscious and likely, they will come to a brainstorming session with several ideas in mind to build on with the group.  Not everyone needs this but it ensures that people are prepared and comfortable with the topic before hand and it gives them a chance to ask questions prior to the session so it can be used for brainstorming without distractions and delay.

People Diversity

This is an important one for creative thinking.  You need to have a diverse group of people, with different styles, experience levels, positions, backgrounds or any other way to diversify a group for brainstorming.  The last thing you want for brainstorming is a group of like minded individuals who all think the same.  You simple won’t get enough variation or “outside the box” thinking without diversification.  Sometimes people who don’t know much or anything about the topic can have the best idea so you want to ensure you diversify the group.

Creative Warm-up

And finally, the last step you should do in preparing for an effective brainstorming session is to be kick start the creative thoughts in the group by having a creative warm-up exercise. Something simple and fun works well to gets warm up for a few minutes with an exercise anyone can participate in.  One I like is to have a common everyday simple object and have the group list all the uncommon things that could be used for.  Use a pencil, rock, plant, shoe, door, toothbrush or any other common object people interact with and list out other uses.  This gets the mind thinking on NEW ideas and it quickly encourages weird ideas,  which is important to allow for brainstorming.

Posted by Mike King under Learning | 10 Comments »

How to be More Productive with Any Software Application

May 7th 2009

Modo -

I’m a quick learning of software applications and I’ve done this by venturing into complex programs when I was very young from my interest in 3D graphics and video editing.  In spending much time in these types of applications over the years I have developed the skills to quickly learn any software application and I think I can help others to develop some of those same skills if practiced.  So these are the things I find work best to learn a new application and become more productive in it.

Understand the Software’s Purpose and Usage First

This is the first step because if you don’t know what an application is supposed to do, it is very difficult to learn and apply to how you think it might or should be used.  Depending on how you come across a new application, there are usually additional resources available to quickly get familiar with the application.  If you don’t know, look it up online, ask others who might use it and find out from the manufacturer or author who the software was built for and why?

If you know the applications purpose, you can look at it from the perspective of the intended user and that is the first step to quickly learning it.  If you attempt to learn an application from a user’s perspective it wasn’t designed for, chances are, you will become frustrated much easier or disappointed.

Test Out All the OptionsPreferences - Options

The first thing I do is go and find the options.  I don’t try it, explore it, start some simple project or doing anything else first.  I always check the options.  I’ve learned that this tells a lot about an application and it also typically quickly shows some functionality of the software that you may not find out about with general use.  Often options hide things like advanced menus or toolbars that you’d have a hard time finding otherwise.  I love an application that has lots of configuration options and it always helps me to learn quickly what I can do with it.

Options often reveal ways to add, configure or setup the software to your own personal liking as well.  The quicker you do this, the more comfortable you will feel with the application and it will help to make you feel like you are in control of it, instead of it in control of you, which is exactly what you want when learning an application.

Run Full Screen so you Have no Distractions

Most software nowadays has an option to run full screen, and if not, it can at least be maximized.  This is simply a good way to eliminate other computer distractions so you can focus on learning that application, and that application alone.  I have a bunch of tips in this previous article on how to maximize your productivity on your computer and most of those can be helpful in this step as well for learning this new app.

Read the Quick Guides and Manual if its Complex

Simple software might be easy enough to pick up on your own just by playing with it for a few minutes or perhaps an hour or two.  However, if you cannot master an application in a couple hours, it is likely complex enough to have a user manual and that user manual will usually be quite helpful.  Yes, there are some bad user manuals out there but most have useful tips or at least they are a good reference to browse through to find any features or areas you haven’t yet explored or learned on your own.

The 3D software I use has hundreds of pages of user manuals and they ar e jammed full of useful tips, workflow suggestions, details and examples on how to do certain things, shortcuts and many other useful bits.  They are always worth browsing and reading straight though if the manual has enough good content in it.

I also recommend you make your own notes for items you think you will use in the future or want to try.

Check Online for Tips on that Software

Many applications have there own communities of followers or fan sites or forums online now a days.  These are excellent resources for finding additional tips for a piece of software.  They sometimes have a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section that might answer some common questions you have.  Forums are great places to ask questions as well or to get support from the manufacturer or author if you need some help with the software.

Another often overlooked method of learning software is to search for and follow free tutorials.  There are literally hundreds of tutorial sites out there and thousands of applications that have tutorials written for them.  Many of these are free and can be easy to find for your application by doing just a few Google searches using keywords with your software name and “free tutorials” or “tutorials” or “help guides”.

Keyboard Shortcuts Keyboard Shortcuts

This one is definitely my favorite.  I love keyboard shortcuts for applications and is actually one of the first things I learn if I know I will continue to use that application often.  Shortcuts allow you to run commands, open windows or navigate the options and features in an application much quicker than having to mouse to those locations every time.  When I’m working in an application, I keep my left hand on the keyboard pounding out all my known shortcuts and my mouse can stay in hand doing the mouse actions, instead of all the menu and options work.

I use a 7 button mouse and actually put man y keyboard combos and commands right on the mouse buttons using its driver software.  I can customize this on a per application and it makes it must faster to access what I without moving my hand away from the mouse.

You can often find keyboard shortcuts and shortcut cheap sheets online as well that people have build if you want a quick reference card for all the shortcuts.  Some user manuals and applications have this built in so you can easily refer to it for learning the shortcut keys.

Don’t Be Afraid to Explore

Last but certainly not least.  You must not be afraid to explore in an application.  You will never learn how to use it, if you don’t use it and the more you explore and learn about the application, the more likely it is that you will know that tool or feature when you really need it and can then immediately be useful with it.  Often there are multiple ways of doing things and if you explore an application, you can often find quicker alternatives to complete the same task.  The last thing you want is to be repeating a task using some difficult slow process just because you don’t know how to use the application.  I see this everyday with common applications like excel and word where people struggle with formatting options and simple features just because they have never taken the time to learn a few features that are designed to help in those areas.

Watching an others use an application is often useful as well since you can see how they use it or what features they use that you can learn from.  I love it when I notice someone do something in an application that I didn’t know was possible and then can ask them and quickly adopt that method myself.

So, I hope these techniques will help you to master an application and ultimately, be more productive with it.

Posted by Mike King under Learning | 5 Comments »

True Forgiveness

May 4th 2009

Forgiveness is never as easy as it seems and there are unfortunately a lot of false forgiveness going on in this world.  People know the value of forgiving someone, so often the process that is learned to forgive someone is practiced but the heart behind that forgiveness is not yet there so it’s a fake.  Forgiveness goes much much deeper than the words you say or actions you take.

Your heart and soul must be engaged for true forgiveness, not just your actions.

Trapped in the Past

The need for forgiveness always stems from some moral wrongdoing, harm caused to self and others or some situation that leads a person feeling victimized.  Each of these leave reminders and memories in our lives about our past and locks us into a cycle of guilt, doubt, and pain.  Getting out of this cycle and looking at what true forgiveness really entails is so important.  It’s tough to do though, since true forgiveness is very difficult.

Victimization is a huge roadblock for many things in life and certainly, its connected to forgiveness and nearly always the reason preventing true forgiveness from happening.  These victim scenarios are held fast in our minds and to forgive, we must let them go and look to move on from that situation or hurt associated with it.  The pain is real and should not be suppressed, it should be dealt with and faced instead.  Victimization keeps reviving those feelings and locks us in to continual feelings of guilt, shame and anger.  Release those feelings of resentment and look forward to future intentions.

3095060972_4cbc20684a-50% Acceptance, Not Tolerance

Often apologies and the age old response of “I forgive you” are treated as the steps to forgiveness and while those actions can be helpful in the process of forgiveness, they are not enough themselves.  Forgiveness is a process, not a single event and it goes much deeper than what you say or reveal to others.

Often forgiveness is pushed to the surface for others to see where there is still resentment inside.  This is not forgiveness, it’s tolerance and it does nothing to get by the internal pain of the wrong doing.  True forgiveness takes that so much deeper and turns the wrong doing around by acceptance of it and understanding of it.  This certainly doesn’t mean you agree with it or are not hurt by it, but it does mean you fully accept the actions, the pain and can let it go so you are no longer trapped by the hurtful act.

Acceptance comes from within when forgiving actions and it requires one to find acceptance within your own beliefs, understanding and experience.  You cannot repeatedly stumble or dwell on a problem and have truly forgiven it.  They just can’t coexist.  To forgive, is to accept and to move on.

There is Always Love in Forgiveness

I can’t write about forgiveness without including love.  Love is the foundation of true forgiveness and must be present.  Love is far more powerful than anger and hatred and is exactly why it enables forgiveness to happen.  Love prevails.  Love endures.

Love when it comes to forgiveness is about the love of others and love of self necessary to bring true acceptance, repentance for wrong doings and even the hope to look only for future intentions.  Self love battles the victimization and can lead a person from shame or pity from a hurtful act to forgive themselves, learn from those actions and use it to serve others and the future.

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | 19 Comments »

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