10 Transformative Lessons That Inspired Us in 2014 - Forever We
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10 Transformative Lessons That Inspired Us in 2014

10 Transformative Lessons That Inspired Us in 2014

We are on the cusp of the New Year, and before I make a resolution, I like to spend an evening of of reflection. This year has been a big one for Forever We. Our 2014 word of the year was BEGIN. Well, we did it. We began, and here’s what we learned. (Although we work together as a team, I’m writing this post in the first person to chronicle my personal growth. I’d love for you to join the conversation. Please tell me what you learned in 2014 in the comments at the end of this post.)

1. Last January, I read The In-Between by Jeff Goins. On January 1, 2014 I wrote in my journal: Maybe God is less concerned with exactly what I’m doing and more concerned with who I’m becoming. Unfortunately, I am often motivated by progress, so while I could buy into this premise intellectually, in practice, I found the idea more difficult to embrace. As the year progressed and things didn’t always go as I had planned, I began to acknowledge the joy in the journey. I noted it, and I gave thanks for it.

2. Whatever dream you have that you want to become a reality, spend time actively working on it. Donald Miller taught me to set aside time to “plow my field.” No phone calls, no email, just me sitting down to drive my tractor back and forth across my field. While distractions beckoned, I knew that if I wanted to create something of lasting value I was going to have to do something related to this project every single day. Some days lasted well into the night. I plowed the field. And it paid off.

3. We followed the advice of Daniel Burrus and became noticers. Use all your senses, he advised. Listen closely. Seek new experiences. I learned a long time ago that before I could be a world changer, I first would have to become a noticer. We paid more attention to the people we encountered. Both gratitude and graciousness multiplied. Noticing and gratitude go hand-in-hand. Every time I notice something, it’s as if I’m sending up a little prayer to God. And everything meaningful I’ve ever done has been the direct result of a prayer I’ve offered to the one who gave me life.

4. If you’re not willing to go up to a stranger, you may not be up for the challenge of starting a business from scratch. Starting a business is not for the weak-willed. Apathy. Skepticism. Rejection. Get used to it, get over it, and get going. You will be amazed at the help you will receive just by being brave enough to ask. We’ve tried to be very honest about where we are and what we need, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of both friends and strangers. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to begin, let alone endure.

5. There are two kinds of time, but the unit of measure is the same. We chronicle the moments that pass and the moments that matter. Know the difference and capitalize on the ones that matter. You can’t turn back time, and you can’t freeze time. Don’t waste it. Enough said.

6. Adam Braun, author of The Promise of a Pencil, gave me several mantras for life: do small things that help others feel big, speak the language of the person you want to become, focus on one person in every room, surround yourself with those who make you better, and make your life story a story worth telling. The focus of all these little lessons is people. They matter–a lot.

7. Losing and loss aren’t the same thing, but learning how to navigate one will help you be better at the other. When things are not as they should be,  it is our responsibility to work to make them better. Someone once told me, “When you see something that isn’t right in the world, and you think something should be done about that thing, then YOU are the person to do something about that thing.” Our good intentions, however, may not always translate into success. Just as losing teaches us to respect the game we’re playing, losing also compels us to practice finding a better way. There is no loss except that in which nothing is learned.

8. From Amy Carmichael: Is the love of God being revealed through me? Honestly, this is the question through which we filter every single thing we do as a company. Before I do anything, my prayer is: “Speak Lord, I’m listening,” rather than the prayer of my youth and the one I fight daily to silence:  “Hear me, Lord. I’m speaking!” I have peace when I know I am working within the will of God.

9. Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. President Calvin Coolidge once said, “Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” For the children we represent, we pray that they will not be impatient with life, but will keep on keeping on. May nothing they love ever be buried in the graveyard of good intentions simply because they gave up too soon.

10. The secret to happiness is work worth doing. Sandra Day O’Connor said those words, and I agree. Choose work that reflects your values. Every day we commit to work worth doing is a day to celebrate. Check.

OK, I lied. Here’s one more to chew on. Whether you’re a business mogul or a family guy, you probably have a way to measure the success of your enterprise. For us, this last one is the thing that brings real value to our day-to-day operations. It’s the core of our mission and excellent reminder of the “why” behind our business. Don’t think of it as an afterthought. Think of it as the icing on the cake–it’s what makes us special and sets us apart from other companies that “just make toys.”

11. “The new bottom line in business is the impact you have on your community and world around you–that no amount of profit could make up for purpose.”--Casey Gerald, MBAs Across America. This sentiment was echoed in almost everything I read this year. From it, we derived our motto: “purposeful play.”

We believe that every human child, sister, brother, mother, and father was created on purpose and for a purpose. Our social mission solidifies our commitment to our collective well-being. So our word for 2015 is naturally, PURPOSE.

Will you join us? What did you learn that you would like to share with us?