Archive for April, 2013

Persistence/Don’t Give Up

I’ve been thinking about the theme of persistence and “Don’t Give Up” and at the same time, thinking about the terrible events that took place at the Boston Marathon.

So, with that in mind, I wanted to share  a scripture verse about running the race:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV)

Plus, I wanted to share a video from the 1992 Olympics [ ] that was about a runner (Derek Redmond) that suffered an injury in the greatest race of his life and decided that, even though he had no change at winning, he had put too much effort into this to just quit.  So, he kept going.  It was a struggle and the security officials were trying to convince him to quit.  Then, out of the stands, a man came running onto the track and towards this runner.  Security initially tried to stop the man that turned out to be the runner’s dad.  When he reached his son, he put his arm around him and helped him to finish the race.  However, just before the finish line, he stepped back and let his son finish on his own.

Well, sometimes we might be frustrated and ready to quit but that’s when our heavenly father puts His loving arms around us and helps us to carry on.  And sometimes our youth and our volunteers need for us to be there to help encourage them to continue the race.

Switching from sports to the world of entertainment, another story of persistence and not giving up was Sylvester Stallone who kept trying until he finally found success in the movie Rocky which he wrote and starred in.  Hear Tony Robbins telling the Sylvester Stallone story @

Oprah tells the story of how Journey (best known for the song “Don’tStop Believin”) found their new lead singer Arnel Pineda who had previously been singing for his supper.  The first part is at  (plus there’s more at and if you’re really into Journey)

Finally, as my friend Vince reminded me, James Dyson famously created 5,126 prototypes for a vacuum cleaner whilst drowning in a sea of debt. But his 5,127th design was the breakthrough he needed and with it came the start of the Dyson company. The Dyson company today earns over 1 billion in sales annually.

Remember….never never never give up.  Success could be one try away.

P.S.  The video about the runner from the 1992 Olympics was shared in a sales meeting Monday at The Kansas City Star (by my friend Vince Coultis) and was  also the focus of my opening devotion at the youTheology Advisory Board meeting  that same evening.  Plus, a version of this blog is being shared at

And, finally, I can’t have “Don’t Give Up” in the title without linking to the great song by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush:


My name is Mark and I am an Introvert.

I just read the book The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Dr. Marti Olsen Laney.

Since I’ve read a lot about Introverts through the years, I wasn’t sure if I was going to learn anything new and in fact, wasn’t at the beginning of the book. However, I took a different tactic and rather than just reading for information, I tried looking at my own life through the lens of what she had to share on the subject.

So, here are some of the insights I found on myself based on reading between the lines:

  1. While there are many different personality tests (such as DISC and Myers-Briggs where I’m an INFP) that involve asking lots of questions, the most basic test is this: what do you do to recharge?  If (like me) you need time to yourself, you’re probably an introvert. 
  2. As an introvert,I need time to process; when presented with new information and asked to make a quick decision, I get stressed out.  I will think of lots of things but freeze when trying to share them if I haven’t thought it through.
  3. As an introvert, I work better in group settings if I have something to anchor me; this is why I need my recliner (where I’m sitting while typing this blog) and why I get stressed when someone sits in my chair.
  4. As an introvert, I don’t like conflict; this is why I don’t like to tell someone to move out of my recliner.
  5. As an introvert, I don’t mind speaking about a topic on which I’m informed but I hate the idea of small talk.  Others hate to present but it doesn’t faze me as long as I have time to prepare for doing so.  However, what I hate are the Q&A session or, even worse, the small talk before the meeting.  So, if a sales rep wants me to go with them on a sales call, I’m fine presenting the information and clarifying questions about the data but the rep is in charge of any non-scripted conversation.   However, I do have a few tried & true techniques:  my laptop wallpaper is a photo of one of my grandkids – everyone loves a cute kid.   I sometimes include a photo of one of the grandkids as the opening of a presentation (when talking about United Way, a photo of my grandson in a “Live United” onesie leads) but dogs and sports also work as conversation starters/icebreakers.  I’ve also used a photo of a fish caught by either my wife or son-in-law.  And if you get me to talk about my family, pets or sports teams, I suddenly forget to be nervous about interacting with a stranger.
  6. This is similar to the past point but, when it comes to networking or attending a social gathering, I need something to help me do so.   The author recommended “props” or something in your wardrobe that will catch others’ attention and be a conversation-starter.  So, little did I know that my themed ties, hats and sports clothing is a copying mechanism.  For example, in the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness, I alternated ties between Shamrocks and basketball.  Tomorrow, I’ll be wearing my baseball tie in honor of the Royals’ home opener.  I’m able to share my faith by simply wearing a tie that shows the cross or lists the books of the Bible; and it’s opened up conversations about faith with someone whom it would not have otherwise happened.  At church, many people comment on my many hats that I wear when making announcements.  A few years ago, I discovered that if I wore a hat or used some other prop, people were more likely to to pay attention to my announcement.  So, I put on my chef’s hat to announce an upcoming meal or bake sale; I wore my rabbit ears to announce the church’s Easter Egg hunt.
  7. As an introvert, I am likely to have a lower average body temperature and also a smaller temperature range in which I’m comfortable.  So, the fact that I’m cold and then hot soon after isn’t just that I’m odd, it’s the fault of my personality.
  8. As an introvert, I hate answering the phone.  If I talk to someone, they might ask me a question and I’m going to have to think on my feet.  I’d much rather get a request via email where I can process it and respond accordingly.
  9. Of course, it’s even worse when a sales rep (usually an extrovert) walks into my cubicle and will just stand there until I take care of their pressing need.  Of course, they always need the information right away, and want me to drop everything to take care of them.   Let’s see, I’m working on something for my boss, VP or even the President of the company and I’m supposed to stop and work on your project because you didn’t plan ahead?  Think again.  For that matter, even if I was having a conversation that wasn’t that important or working on a less urgent task, the fact that you demand my attention is rude.  And fair or not, if you’re one that regularly interrupts me in what I’m trying to do for others, I’m less likely to put you at the top of my list when I have time to get projects completed.
  10. Of course, the author reminded us that Introverts exist in a world that is primarily made up of Extroverts so we need to learn to adapt to our environment.  And that means that I need to realize that the majority of people do NOT operate the way that I do and that I bear responsibility for how I interact with others and I also have some responsibility for making sure others know how to best deal with me.   I’ve had some success already but need to continue to move forward to achieve success.

If you’re an introvert, what has worked best for you?

If you’re an extrovert, what advice do you have for an introvert for dealing with people like you?

I’m also sharing this blog on the book’s Facebook page.  Maybe the author or other introverts will have other insights.