Take a Sabbatical – Life Lesson 48 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Take a Sabbatical

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by Diego Jiminez

While attending Augsburg College in my youthful days, I noticed that many of my professors would occasionally take a sabbatical. This means taking a break from their usual academic pursuits. They worked on their books, furthered their research, or traveled the world.

What if you could get away from it all and clear your head, all while moving your career forward and gaining perspective on your future? Seem too good to be true? Well, I want to let you in on a little secret. You don’t have to be a professor to take a sabbatical.

The Benefits of Taking a Sabbatical

We work so hard during our best years, hoping we’ll have the time, money, and energy to travel in our golden years. We sometimes forget to focus on ourselves in the here and now. Whatever your career or walk of life, there are very good reasons to take time off from your job and your daily life. You should do this before you retire, to focus on your own growth.

Make Time for Backburner Projects

We all have “someday” projects in mind, things we tell ourselves we’ll do just as soon as we have the time for them. A sabbatical is the perfect way to carve out the time to jumpstart a new research project, make headway on a stalled-out manuscript, or conduct that research we keep putting off.

Refresh Your Goals

Sabbaticals are like supercharged vacations: they get you out of your day-to-day. They get you into a more relaxed state of being. This frees your subconscious mind to make deeper connections with your work and your purpose.

We all need time away. Making time to put everything on hold, slow down, and focus on yourself and your career will let you return with renewed purpose and motivation.

Gain a Global Perspective

While any time away offers important benefits, take the opportunity to travel overseas if at all possible. Prioritize this especially if you’ve never been outside the country before.

Traveling offers a rich opportunity to gain insight into other people’s lives. Interacting with people from other cultures and backgrounds is an incredible source of new experiences and new ideas.

Get Out There!

A sabbatical has very real benefits for everyone, regardless of your business or walk of life. Over the course of your career, try to take a sabbatical or two to travel the world, write a book, or have new adventures.

If you have a strong financial foundation, this sort of travel is entirely within your reach. And if you don’t, now is the perfect time to start building one.

Attitude Reflects Leadership – Life Lesson 47 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Attitude Reflects Leadership

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

attitude reflects leadership

Have you seen the movie Remember the Titans? In one powerful interaction between a football player and his captain, this player sums up team leadership dynamics in just three simple words: “Attitude reflects leadership.”

If you’re not familiar with the movie, let me set the scene. The team captain is chastising one of his players—Big Ju—for his lack of team spirit. This captain just can’t understand why his player has such a poor attitude toward the rest of his teammates.

Big Ju’s terse retort doesn’t just explain how attitudes trickle down from the top; it’s a demonstration of the principle. He feels disrespected by his teammates and captain, so he lacks respect for them in turn.

This is no surprise to any of us; we all know that leadership is a top-down process, and the culture of every company starts with its leaders. But here’s something you may not realize: regardless of your position, your attitude and interactions with others have the power to impact those around you.

The Truth

Let’s face it: life can be challenging. Even when we tell ourselves to stay positive, a positive attitude isn’t always easy to maintain in the face of life’s greatest challenges. But you don’t have to be a CEO to cultivate an attitude of leadership, base your daily interactions on mutual respect, and start to change the culture for the better.

What’s the difference between a thermistor vs a thermostat? One indicates the temperature and one sets it. Which do you want to be?

“Trust Me”: Don’t Trust It – Life Lesson 46 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Don’t Trust People Who Say “Trust Me”

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by Joseph Chan

I find myself hesitant whenever someone says, “trust me.” It’s an immediate red flag, triggering my skepticism. My instinctive reaction is simple: “Why should I?”

Don’t just tell me to trust you—show me. Prove through your words and deeds that integrity defines you. Without demonstration, I won’t take your word for it, so spare the effort.

In today’s world, the term “trust” has been so excessively used that it’s lost much of its meaning. In a landscape where every dubious individual is eager to inundate you with extravagant guarantees for products and services of questionable quality, how can any of us discern when trust is genuinely deserved?

Food for Thought

You’ll rarely hear me say “trust me”—I won’t insult you like that. I know that trust is something I have to earn over time. You’ll either end up trusting me or you won’t, but you’ll do it for your own reasons, not because I told you to.

I encourage you to be introspective with this one. Catch yourself when you say it next, and follow it by asking what your true intentions are. It is perfectly okay to be skeptical of others who use words as comfort rather than take action.

What can you do to prove that you are trustworthy? What can someone else do to prove it to you?

Do Business With Good People: Lesson 45 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Do Business With Good People

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

We make choices every day: what to eat, what to wear, and who to spend our free time with. Shouldn’t we also choose to do business with good people whenever we can?

How to Do Business With Good People

It can be a jungle out there, but in most cases, it doesn’t take long to figure out if someone has your best interest at heart or if they’re just trying to get what they can from you.

If you’re having difficult judging the character of a potential business acquaintance, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are they helping you reach your goals, or are they only focused on their own bottom line?
  2. Are they focused on helping others or only themselves?
  3. Have they spent time understanding your goals or what you are trying to achieve?
  4. Do you have a genuinely good impression of the person based on your interactions, or are there red flags you’re not addressing?

If you know it isn’t right, don’t make the deal—and if you’re regretting a previous partnership or agreement, look for opportunities to form more meaningful connections elsewhere, and move on when you can.

Good People Do Honest Work for Honest Pay

Just because someone makes a commission or fee, that doesn’t mean they don’t have your best interest at heart. Anyone providing exceptional service deserves compensation. I don’t run my business without compensation, nor do I expect others to do so.

When you do business with good people, you’re happy to pay for quality. You have a clear understanding of what to expect, when to expect it, and what to do if you’re unsatisfied. The sands won’t keep shifting under your feet. And while you don’t have to be best friends with everyone you conduct your business with, you should at the very least respect one another during all your interactions.

Let’s face it: life is just too short to deal with people with unsavory business practices or ulterior motives.

Broke vs Poor – Life Lesson 44 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Broke vs. Poor

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

broke vs. poor

Frequently, we use the term “poor” to describe our financial situation when what we truly mean is “broke.” Why does it matter? These words signify two distinct circumstances, and using them interchangeably diminishes the very genuine experiences shared by millions of Americans.

Being Broke Is a Drag

Most individuals have experienced being broke at one time or another. I know I have. In my simple definition, “broke” means having a roof over your head, food in the fridge (even though you might think you never have anything good to eat in the house), clothes, shoes, and a car or bike—but your phone might be a few years old, you make your own coffee before you head to work, and you probably aren’t taking lavish vacations.

Broke signifies not having enough funds for the non-essentials we desire—like the latest iPhone, fancy meals, or designer clothing. It’s about getting by and hoping for better days ahead.

Being Poor Is a Crisis

On the other hand, poor means not having a roof over your head or knowing where your next meal is coming from. It means that a single surprise, accident, or medical issue would be catastrophic. It means hope is as hard to come by as a decent night’s sleep. Poor is a life-threatening condition that affects entire families across the country. I pray you and I never experience it.

While we may not all possess the latest car, trendiest gadgets, or high-end devices, you know what? That’s okay. Occasionally, we may gripe about not having what we desire, but it’s crucial to acknowledge the disparity between being broke and being poor so we don’t overlook the struggles faced by numerous Americans.

Share Your Blessings: Life Lesson 43 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Share Your Blessings by Giving Back

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

share your blessings

Photo by Elaine Casap

Whether or not we recognize it every day, you and I are incredibly blessed in our lives. But hold on—how can I possibly know this about you when I don’t even know who you are?

Consider this: You’re reading this piece. That means you have access to the internet or someone who values you enough to have printed this for you. Either circumstance is a blessing. When you share your blessings, their impact multiplies.

How to Give Back

For many of us, a monetary gift is the easiest way to give back: we just pull out the checkbook, sign our name, and put the issue out of our minds until the next round of charitable giving. However, giving back can take many different forms. More difficult in this busy world—and therefore potentially more rewarding and more personally impactful—is giving your time and talent.

Here’s a list of just a few possible things you might do to leverage your time and talents for the greater good:

  • Volunteer at your place of worship.
  • Offer tutoring or childcare services to local schools or after-school programs.
  • Organize a book donation drive for your neighborhood or install a Little Free Library on your property.
  • Ask your local library, food pantry, or animal rescue service how you can help.
  • Contact a nonprofit organization whose mission resonates with your passion and offer your time and skills.

This list is not exhaustive. Observe the needs of your community, tap into your unique strengths, and you’ll unearth countless new ideas for giving back.

Share Your Blessings, Multiply Their Effects

However you choose to be impactful in the world, know that you aren’t just benefitting others with your service; you’re multiplying the blessings in your own life.

Some of your most significant and impactful experiences will come from helping others. Giving benefits both the giver and the receiver, and those blessings can ripple out into the community in unexpected ways.