Could You Live to 100 Years of Age? (Part 3)

In part 4 and 5 of this series of posts on the possibility of living to 100, we will look at what longevity could mean for our lives. What does a life of significance, rather than mere success, look like? How do we break free from the conventional view of the three-stage life: education, vocation, and then retirement? Before we get to that, let's dive a little deeper into the area of physical health and well-being. After all, just because people are living longer statistically, doesn't mean that you or I will do so also. It also doesn't guarantee that,... Read more →


Could You Live to 100 years of Age? (Part 2)

Today we continue our series of posts on the possibility of living to 100 years of age. Areas on the planet where people regularly live to over 100 years of age today are often referred to as “blue zones”. Dan Buettner (Twitter @bluezones) has been a National Geographic researcher and explorer for over 20 years. He has written an article for National Geographic magazine called "Secrets of Living Longer” and also two books - The Blue Zone Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People and Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons From the World’s Happiest People. Dan estimates that... Read more →


Could You Live to 100 Years of Age? (Part 1)

One of the best gifts you can give those you love is to live a long life, Yes, why not plan to be around for a while. Of course, none of us control the number of our days nor do we know how long we will live. But there are things we can do that are within our power that can add to the possibility of a longer ... and a healthier life. In many ways, life is like a room with two doors. We enter this room through the door of birth. We all know that date - it’s... Read more →


Beware: Impulse Buying!

I remember early on in our marriage shopping for a new BBQ. The store had a sale on so I bought not only a whiz bang BBQ but also a heap of extras to go with it. In the end, I had overspent and busted our budget plans. It took a few months to recover from that impulse buying spree. Nowadays, when Nicole and I are discussing a possible purchase we will often say to each other, “Let’s not do another BBQs galore!” 'Impulse buying' refers to unplanned expenditures that we make based on emotion. This is the number one... Read more →


To Russia With Love

As I teenager I loved to play RISK, a board game similar to Monopoly, but in RISK the goal is to conquer the world, not just own the houses in the neighbourhood. Each player is dealt a certain number of countries and armies to placer on them. Then through the roll of the dice they choose to attack neighbouring countries endeavouring to conquer them and expand their territory. The winner is the one who eventually conquers the world. We played it for hours, even creating multi-day games through treaties and all sorts of secret strategies. I also loved Geography while... Read more →


The Mystery of our Emotions (Part 3)

Yesterday, we talked about sadness and I shared a very personal poem with you. Like journalling, poetry is another way to give expression to our emotions. I am very much an amateur but writing poetry has been worth the effort. It helps me to put my feelings into words, my thoughts on to paper, and to give a voice to my emotions. [Read more of my poems here] In our modern society, men have often been known to bury their feelings and therefore to not be in touch with them. Sadly, these suppressed feelings can fester there and then burst... Read more →


The Mystery of our Emotions (Part 2)

Yesterday, we started talking about the mystery of our emotions. I am a fairly optimistic person and therefore I have a lot of positive emotions. My family have called me everything from 'Peter Pan' to ‘Tigger'. Yes, I do have a lot of enthusiastic energy … usually from the moment I wake up. In the first few decades of my life, I had little experience with some of the darker emotions of life such as sadness, grief, disappointment and depression. But as life has gone on, these have come into my world and added new colours to my life. Three... Read more →


The Mystery of our Emotions (Part 1)

Emotions. Feelings. Difficult things to understand … at least for me. I wouldn’t describe myself as an emotional person while growing up, although I would easily tear up while watching a movie that had anything to do with family. I am an Achiever type. Head down, suck it up, tough it out, get on with it, do what needs to be done … regardless of how you feel. There are many things we do in spite of our feelings not because we necessarily feel like doing them. As I have grown older, I have learnt to get more in touch... Read more →


Do You Really Need MORE of God? (Part 7)

If you are a person of faith, do you really need MORE of God? I am all for spiritual experiences but theologically the truth is that we already have all we need. The apostle Paul once wrote a letter to some people living in the city of Corinth who were always after MORE (especially supernatural experiences!) and said, “Everything belongs to you!” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). All we need is already ours - right now, not one day in the future. In the same way, Jesus placed the words, "Everything I have is yours", in the mouth of the father speaking... Read more →


Do You Really Need MORE Relationships? (Part 6)

As human beings, we are designed for relationship. No one is meant to do life 'alone'. We are all better off when we are connected with other people. It's part of our inner need to belong. Of course, experiencing a sense of belonging takes effort and time (the very word "belong" comes from two words "be ... long"). It also requires a degree a compatibility, common interest, shared values and trust. Our relationships can be seen as occurring in a series of concentric and widening circles. 1. The crowd. We all know and connect to hundreds and even thousands of... Read more →


Do You Really Need MORE Work? (Part 5)

My dad used to say, "The reward of work well done is more work!" How true is that. Making a contribution is an important part of being human and adding value to society. We were created for meaningful work. But when is enough enough? There are many other important aspects of life other than work. No one on their death bed wished they spent more time at the office! I love work. So much so that I clearly have workaholic tendencies. I can become so absorbed in what I am doing that I keep going and going, attacking that endless... Read more →


Do You Really Need MORE Money? (Part 4)

Do you really need MORE money? Sometimes more money can be of help - especially to meet our needs and to do good in the world. There is nothing wrong with money. Contrary to the opinion of some, money is NOT "the root of all evil". The apostle Paul declared that "the LOVE of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10) ... and you don’t have to have money to love it. The issue is not whether we have money or not but whether money has control of you. It is easy to buy into the belief... Read more →


Do You Really Need MORE Success? (Part 3)

Today we continue our series of BLOG posts reflecting on the question, "Do You Really Need MORE?" Those of us who live in the West are born into a world dominated by the religion of capitalism. From our early years, we hear it preaching its gospel of success. "Growth is good!" "Bigger is better!" "MORE is the goal of life!" To be fair, capitalism does a lot of good in the world but unquestioned it can develop a sinister dark side. We do ourselves a favour when we question its assumptions. Let's not embrace the status quo so easily and... Read more →


Do You Really Need MORE Stuff? (Part 2)

We live in a world that continually seeks to make us dissatisfied with what we currently have and tries to motivate us to buy the latest and the greatest things. As a result, we end up with far more stuff than we really need. Where I live in Australia, many homes have a double garage. The trouble is many people can't fit their two family cars in the garage because of all the stuff they have stored in there. As a result, one of the fastest growing businesses in Australia is the the self-storage industry! People pay money for more... Read more →


Do You Really Need MORE? (Part 1)

We live in a society that continually encourages us to pursue MORE - more money, more work, more success, more relationships, more experiences and more stuff. Personally, I love working towards goals and continually accomplishing new things. But this constant achievement-orientation can become addictive and it takes a toll on us - physically, mentally, emotionally and relationally. I can testify to that first hand. In fact, I've experienced what it is to virtually wear myself out in the unquestioned climb up the mountain of MORE. For those of us who live in the West, we are born into a world... Read more →


Navigating the Stages of Faith

A few years ago, I wrote about stages of the life of faith. I have been thinking about this again recently and I strongly believe that this is an insightful way to view our faith in and relationship to God. I have edited the number of stages and their names, as well as some of the descriptions as I prepare to speak about this at a church leaders' conference next week. Personal and spiritual growth occurs over a period of time and always involves a process that is very much like a journey. Many people find it helpful to have... Read more →


NEW Book Release: "Money Talks: Practical Principles for Becoming Financially Free"

I am excited to announce the release of a new book I have written called Money Talks: Practical Wisdom for Becoming Financially Free. Those of us who live in the Western world live in some of the richest countries on the planet yet, despite this fact, many people are under financial pressure. In this book, I share practical principles for becoming financially free and living wisely with the resources we have. Learn fresh insights about earning, saving, investing, debt reduction and spending wisely. The book also includes extra material on alleviating poverty, church finances, fundraising and the purpose of business.... Read more →


Bridging the Knowing-Doing Gap

I love learning new things. In fact, I can become obsessive with new ideas, leading to me becoming the 'expert' in my family about everything and anything. Yes, I'm a maven for new information. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved books. In fact, when my parents visited friend’s house, after dinner I’d love to sit by their bookshelf and browse through the encyclopedias, reading on a wide range of topics and subjects. [Hint: looking back into your childhood can tell you a lot about your gifts and passions!] As I’ve grown older I’ve come to realise that knowledge... Read more →


My Experience with Burnout

My first encounter with burnout was back in 2002. I experienced what I would call an ‘emotional valley’ that lasted for about 6 months. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me but it took everything within me just to make it through the next meeting, the next appointment or the next project. My mood was higher when something was done, rather than when I was leading up to it or during the event or experience. I felt overwhelmed a lot of the time and didn’t have the energy to think much beyond what was right in front of me.... Read more →


Do Your Best

Quite coincidently, I heard a similar statement from two different people in two different places over the last week. It went something like this: “Don’t try to be the best, simply do your best.” That’s quite thought-provoking, isn’t it. We live in a competitive, dog-eat-dog world today. Everyone is trying to out-do the next person. We all want to be number one. Get to the front of the line. The top of the class. It's a call to excellence. After all, winning isn’t everything, it's the only thing. Or so they tell us. But this can leave us all incredibly... Read more →


Flight Mode

I was travelling overseas recently and as the airplane took off the pilot reminded us to turn our phones off or put them in 'flight mode'. Flight mode suspends radio-frequency signal transmission on the device, thereby disabling Bluetooth, telephony, and Wi-Fi. As a result, during this time you can't receive any incoming phone calls, messages or email or surf the Internet. In some ways, this is nice. Could 'offline' could be the new nirvana!? Finally, no more inflow of things interrupting us and needing our attention ... at least for a while. [Of course, some airplanes are now offering wi-fi... Read more →


Can You Teach Someone to be Teachable?

I was in Perth recently speaking at a church there and I had a great question from a young leader at the break between two of my sessions with the church staff team: "Can you teach someone to be teachable?" I had to stop and think about that one. What an insightful question. If someone is not teachable, can you teach them? Probably not ... but I started to think about ways that you can help people recognise their need to learn from others. During our conversation, I shared the following example which I heard many years ago ... Imagine... Read more →


Life Change

Life change and character development take place best in the context of relationships. For example, when our three children were growing up, I noticed that when they are 'alone', such as on a date with me, each of them had the ability to be extremely angelic. However, when they were ‘together’, especially in the backseat of our car, something demonic seemed to emerge! “He hit me, … she hit me first… he’s looking out my window … no, I’m not … she’s ignoring me, dad … he ignored me first … etc, etc.” You get the picture! Yet it was... Read more →


The Great Unknown ... One Year On ...

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of me finishing up 32 years of employment in the one place and stepping out into the great unknown. [See my post from February 2017 called "Time to Say Goodbye" and a poem I wrote in December 2016 called "The Great Unknown"). One year on, I am so glad I did. Words can’t quite express the increasing amounts of joy, excitement and meaning I am starting to experience. I am extremely grateful. So, what have I learned? There are many things, but here are 10 reflections: Your calling isn’t limited to your current role. In... Read more →


Love Pays Attention

Love pays attention. Unfortunately, I often get distracted when people are talking to me (including my wife, Nicole), which usually evokes the comment, “You’re not listening to me!” Love means being 'fully present' with a person, paying focused attention to them by looking them in the eye and concentrating not just on their words but also on the meaning and feelings behind the words. Studies in psychology tell us that the thing people value as much as direction or insight when they go to someone for counselling is to be in the presence of another human being who will actually... Read more →


How's Your Passion?

In the world we live in, passion is often a key to success and impact. In a research study of over 500 top performers from all areas of work, the arts and sports, this statement was made, “No two were alike, but the one quality they had in common was passion. It was their drive, their enthusiasm, their desire that distinguished them.” Another study of great people was done looking for essential qualities of their success. It wasn't intelligence (75% of U.S. presidents were in the lower half of their class, 50% of Fortune 500 CEO's averaged C- in school... Read more →


2018 ... Off and Away!

It’s hard to believe that we are already into February! The new year is well underway. I am loving life and really enjoying this new season. Nicole and I continue to base in the Sunshine Coast, Queensland with regular visits to Melbourne to visit our family and friends. This year, I am giving my time to a variety of pursuits including speaking, coaching pastors and church leaders, and some work with Halftime Australia. I’ve also been updating my dad’s web site (Kevin Conner), including uploading a number of his books in eBook format on Amazon, creating a new design for... Read more →


Becoming Childlike ... Again

When you were a kid, what excited you? What were you interested in? What gave you a buzz? What made you feel at home? The apostle Paul talked about putting away 'childish things' when he grew up and became a man (1 Corinthians 13:11). But there is a big difference between being 'childish' and 'childlike'. He definitely wasn't taking about not having fun, losing a sense of adventure or of becoming boringly serious! In fact, Jesus said that unless we become like a child we will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-3). Yes, we are to grow in... Read more →


Go With Your Strengths!

Have you ever heard some enthusiastic, optimist person spout statements such as, “You can be anything you want to be” or “What you believe, you can achieve!” As nice as these kind of grandiose motivators may sound, they are not true. You can’t be anything you want to be nor can you do anything you want to do. Yes, we all have strengths and great potential but we also have limitations and weaknesses - things we are not very good at. Accepting this reality and working within it is a part of finding joy and fulfilment in life. Some of... Read more →


The Art of Coaching (Part 3)

Graham Alexander developed a simple but effective model (or mental map) for sequencing good questions. It is called The GROW model and it was first published by John Whitmore. The Grow Model GOAL – “What do you want? What are you trying to achieve?” REALITY – “What is happening? What action have you taken so far and what were the effects?” OPTIONS – “What could you do? What are the alternatives?” Seek possibilities, not one solution. WILL – “What will you do? When will you do it? What obstacles will there be? How can I help?” This requires active listening... Read more →


The Art of Coaching (Part 2)

The coaching process involves two aspects: (1) raising awareness and (2) building responsibility. Creating awareness is all about helping the individual see themselves ("self-awareness") and their situation (what is happening around them) accurately. People can only deal with what they are aware of. Without awareness, no true change or progress can be made. John Whitmore says that “a coach is not a problem solver, a teacher, an advisor, an instructor or even an expert; he or she is a sounding board, a facilitator, a counsellor, an awareness raiser.” Building responsibility is the next step. Until an individual accepts and takes... Read more →


The Art of Coaching (Part 1)

In many ways, all of us are leaders. We influence others - family, friends, neighbours and school or work associates. It may be formally or informally, but it happens. We get to choose whether that influence is positive or negative, helpful or unhelpful. Leaders engage in a number of activities when interacting with other people, including communication, planning, problem-solving, directing, training, assisting, mentoring or coaching. People, including ourselves, rarely achieve their potential without the help and input of other people. Today let's talk about coaching. In his excellent book Coaching for Performance, John Whitmore defines coaching as: “unlocking a person’s... Read more →


10 Tips for Being More Productive

I love achievement - getting things done. There is a certain joy and sense of satisfaction in ticking off a job on my task list. Because of this, I am always looking for ways to get more done in a day and to be more productive. I do this by talking to other high achieving people and reading books or articles on productivity. Here are my Top 10 Recent Learnings about Productivity: 1. Know the outcomes or results you desire for the year ahead. If you aim at nothing, you will be sure to hit it. Activity is not accomplishment.... Read more →


What's for Dinner?

So, what's for dinner? It's a question that comes up most days in most families. Personally, I love good food and I have always eaten plenty of it. As a kid growing up, my mother didn't let my sister or me leave the family dinner table until our plate was cleared. It's a habit I still have to this day. In fact, I have been known to help other people finish their plate too! Over the years, I have developed a taste for all kinds of food and, after marrying Nicole over 30 years ago, my appreciation for different types... Read more →


Making the Most of a New Year

Well, here we are - a new year! It's 2018 now and 2017 is in the history books. My, how time is flying. Anyone remember Y2K!? The turn of the century sure had its share of sensationalist debates about the future. Almost two decades on, we are still here and our world continues to be full off challenges ... and opportunities. So how do you make the most of a new year? At the beginning of any new year, I have found it very helpful to do three things: 1. Look Back. The famous Greek philosopher, Socrates, once said that... Read more →


The Christmas Season

It’s the Christmas season! People are carefully selecting gifts for their loved ones, the air is filled with the sound of Christmas carols, bright Christmas lights sparkle each night, and many are looking forward to some time off with their family and friends. For people of faith, this time of year is a reminder of God’s amazing love for the world demonstrated by sending his only Son as a baby - born to be the long-awaited Saviour of the world. Yes, Jesus came to bring peace, love and joy to a fallen and broken world. He still does, if we... Read more →


Mark Conner's Web Site Update

Just for your awareness, my web site is undergoing an update at the moment. Soon there will be new graphics, new pictures, and my BLOG and web site will be integrated into one location. As the renovation continues, here are a few things that are new – all accessible via the Main MENU on the front page: My speaking schedule, outlining the places and events that I am speaking at. Various services that I am now making available – including coaching, consulting and speaking. A link to my resources including this BLOG, the books I have written, and links to... Read more →


Personal Impact

Take a moment to think about the person who has had the greatest positive impact on your life. I’m sure someone is coming to your mind right now – maybe it is a teacher, a coach, a team member, someone from your family, or a friend. Now ask yourself why you chose them. What was it about them? I’ve done this exercise with hundreds of people and the results are always the same. It’s very rarely talent, achievement or knowledge that impacts us the most. It is always the character of the person – qualities such as their care, their... Read more →


Leadership

There is a lot of talk today about leadership and management. Both are important but what is the difference? There is a story I heard many years ago that really helped me: There are this group of people cutting through a jungle. The managers are there co-ordinating everything – the rosters, machete sharpening, the drinks breaks, mosquito spray, sun lotion, first aid. It’s all happening. The leader is the person who climbs a tree, looks around and shouts, “Oops, wrong jungle!” But the managers say, “But, we’re making such great progress!” You know, you might be moving along really fast... Read more →


Excellence

Have you ever seen someone who is really good at what they do? We’re talking about excellence. It can be quite inspiring, even breath-taking. Of course, when we see someone who excels at what they do, we don’t see the process or the journey over time that they took to get there. Former NBA basketball coach Pat Riley once said, “Excellence is the gradual result of always trying to be better.” I like that. I remember when I first played the piano for our church youth group. I had music in front of me and God help the meeting if... Read more →


Vocation

Some of life’s BIG questions include: “Who am I?” “What is the meaning of life?” “Where am I going?” and “What am I here for?” That last question is an important one. It taps into our purpose, our calling, our life contribution, our vocation. After all, everyone wants to be useful. No one wants to be useless. And I’m not talking about just having a job so you can pay the bills and have some money to spend on the weekend. Deep inside very human being is a longing to make a difference in the world. To do something …... Read more →


Empathy

One of the most powerful things you can give another person is the gift of empathy. I remember hearing a story about a man sitting on a train, reading his newspaper when another man came on to the train and sat right next to him. He slouched and closed his eyes, as if to shut out the world. He had two young children with him who proceeded to run around the train, disturbing everyone in sight. The man couldn’t believe it. Why didn’t this man control his children? Eventually, when his annoyance reached a certain level, he said, “Excuse me... Read more →


Vulnerability

I’ll never forget having lunch with a friend a few years back. As we sat down, I asked him how he was going. “Awesome” was his answer and he went on to tell me about a bunch of good things happening in his life at that time. Then he asked me how I was doing. I thought for moment – “Will I go with ‘Awesome’ or will I be honest?” I decided to be honest and so I said, “Yeah, not the best. I’ve had a few challenges lately.” And I began sharing some of things I was facing at... Read more →


Selfie

Each year a new word is added to the English dictionary. A few years back, in 2013, it was the word ‘selfie’. Yes, there is nothing like a good ‘selfie’ taken with your mobile phone and maybe even with a selfie extension. On a recent overseas trip, my wife and I had a 24-hour layover in Beijing, China. We decided to tour the city. Our final stop, on what turned out to be a really hot day, was the Great Wall of China. We took the chair lift to the top, then climbed 100s of steps to one of the... Read more →


Your Story Building Project (Part 3)

God’s work of renovation is designed to make us more like Jesus so that we can have a greater positive impact on our world. Ask yourself, “Is there anything about my life that makes being a Christian attractive to the world?” We are to be a sweet smelling aroma not someone carrying around stinking attitudes. Sadly, there is often a big difference between being a “Christian” and being “Christ-like”. We are called to join with God is seeing thousands of stories of transformation in our world. BUT guess what? Transformation starts with me and with you. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. Now... Read more →


Your Story Building Project (Part 2)

How Do We Co-Operate With God's Work of Renovation is Our Lives? Firstly, let go of the past. See yesterday's post. Secondly, deal with what is happening today. God is more interested in who we are becoming (our character) than what we are doing for him (our achievements). So what is God up to in your life right now? Not everything that happens to us has to have some deep and meaningful reason … but what are we learning? This season you are in right now is only one chapter in your life - it is not the whole story.... Read more →


Your Story Building Project (Part 1)

Not only is the church God's story building project, you individually are also. The apostle Paul puts it this way: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. NIV You as an individual person are the temple or dwelling place of God. Through the Holy Spirit, He lives inside of you. You are his home - his house. Often at church services, we hear people... Read more →


God's Story Building Project

Most churches I have been a part of over the years have undergone a building project or extension at some time. Of course, a church is not a building nor is a building ever meant to be the vision or the focus. After all, buildings don't change people's lives but what happens in them can and does. When the building project is finished, it is easy to think that the work is done. But in reality, the work is only just beginning. Buildings are a tool to continue to carry out the mission of the church. Not only do churches... Read more →


Is it Halftime for You?

I came across the best-selling book Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance by Bob Buford in my late 30s. I loved the concepts but I was busy chasing 'success' as a young pastor of a large church in Melbourne, Australia. By my late 40s, I was what other people considered 'successful', as our church had grown by 5 times in size - from 1, 000 people attending church services each weekend to 5,000 people attending. But I was tired, very tired. During a 3 month sabbatical in early 2012, I travelled to Dallas, USA with a business... Read more →