God’s customized curriculum for you: Embrace and love it regardless

(Mormon Channel, 2017)

According to church leader Neal A. Maxwell (1974), God has created a customized curriculum for each one of us.  He does this:

…in order to teach us the things we most need to know. He will set before us in life what we need, not always what we like (para. 2).  The future “you” is before him now. He knows what it is he wishes to bring to pass in your life. He knows the kind of remodeling in your life and in mine that he wishes to achieve. (para. 3)

This includes happy, joyful, celebratory people, times and situations.

Yet, it may also include sorrow, tragedy, sadness, heartbreak, illness, sickness, and death.

The key is, embracing and loving your customized curriculum.

Regardless of what it is.

Mine, for instance, to name a few of the heavy-hitters, has included breast cancer, divorces, radiation-induced heart disease, and a benign brain tumor.

I’m still here though.

And walking, talking, breathing, learning, celebrating, excited, happy, etc.


Because, while living in Japan, some years back, a brave soul opened his mouth and introduced me to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

(FHE: The Book of Mormon, 2017)

In fact, I was baptized into this church while living there only to learn I had breast cancer two days later.  More was found three days later.

But how awesome that a loving Heavenly Father, knowing that cancer was in my customized curriculum, provided a gospel to help me through it and what other trials were to come.

(Family Photo)

Back then, though, I didn’t know I had a customized curriculum let alone fully understood what the gospel meant.

And I don’t fully now either.  But I’m on my way.

And I’m excited about it.

That if I do my part.  He will do His.

And not necessarily in the way I desire.

But in the way He knows best for me.


I also learned more about prayer.  That it is, when I talk to Him.  When I sincerely pour out my heart to Him and not just offer mere repetitious prayers.

And that when I want to know what He intends for me, I take time to listen after my prayers.

Oh, He answers alright, but it may not be what I asked for or how I intended.

Maxwell explains:

We may at times, if we are not careful, try to pray away pain or what seems like an impending tragedy, but which is, in reality, an opportunity. We must do as Jesus did in that respect—also preface our prayers by saying, “If it be possible,” let the trial pass from us—by saying, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt,” and bowing in a sense of serenity to our Father in heaven’s wisdom, because at times God will not be able to let us pass by a trial or a challenge. If we were allowed to bypass certain trials, everything that had gone on up to that moment in our lives would be wiped out. It is because he loves us that at times he will not intercede as we may wish him to. (para. 6).

Adds Wilcox (2010), “Let us continue to pray for the removal of our thorns, but if our prayer seems unheeded, may we hear the whisper of the Lord, ‘Peace, child, I am at work’” (p. 13).

Additionally, I learned that answers to prayer come in His timetable, not mine.

After all, He knows what I need better than I.

For example, my asking to be healthy, but getting a cancer diagnosis.  Looking back, although I was a train wreck when I first heard my diagnosis; today, so much good, blessings and miracles have come out of it.

“Given time, the Lord can extract the most good out of the most unfortunate of circumstances.  Our love of God is more than matched by his love for us.  That is why he will not allow negatives to remain negative.  He will find a way to change the dynamics of our trials and turn them to blessings” (Wilcox, 2010, p. 8).

For instance, when I had my brain tumor removed last June, it was one of the most spiritual experiences for my husband and I.  It actually was one of the best experiences in my life.  Through earlier trials, He schooled me to embrace and love my brain tumor to further refine, teach and humble me.

(Family Photo of Brain MRI images before and after craniotomy)

Maxwell explains:

we must pray, therefore, not that things be taken from us, but that God’s will be accomplished through us. What, therefore, may seem now to be mere unconnected pieces of tile will someday, when we look back, take form and pattern, and we will realize that God was making a mosaic (para. 13).

Wilcox (2010) agrees: “It is in the crucible of adversity that the gold of godliness is refined, molded, and shaped to perfection” (p. 9).


God has also provided instruction for us.

Through scripture.

(History of LDS Scriptures, 2016)

Wilcox (2011) even refers to them as letters from God.

So He didn’t just bring me (and you) here to navigate this life without instruction.

The frustrating thing for Him, I am sure, is that often we don’t pray to Him unless there is a crisis.  The same with reading His books of instruction.

Instead, we rely on the arm of flesh –our own and others thinking– and not the arm of God.

Yet, believes Wilcox (2010), “Learning is one of the best ways to cope with adversity” (p. 128).

I know when I have been most happy and at peace, is when I pray and read the scriptures daily.

When I have hope and faith.

And not doubt and fear.

How grateful I am for a Heavenly Father that provides a customized curriculum for each one of us that refines, molds and shapes us to become more like Him so that He can use us as one of His tools to help build up His kingdom of God.

Praying for Trials

Some time ago I lived in a small town in rural Southern, Utah.  There, people actually prayed for trials.

They knew that they were a means to become like God.

I’m not quite sure I am there yet with praying for trials, but when they come, today I embrace them and ask Him, “What do you want me to learn from this?” and “What do you want me to do with it?”

After all, it is not about me, but Him.

I’ll just go where He wants me to go.

And do what He wants me to do.

Even if I don’t understand.



FHE: The Book of Mormon.  (2017).  Retrieved from http://www.ldsliving.com/FHE-The-Book-of-Mormon/s/75294

History of LDS scriptures. (2016).  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/scriptures/history?lang=eng

Maxwell, N. A. (1990).  But for a small moment.  Retrieved from https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/neal-a-maxwell_small-moment/

Mormon Channel.  (2017).  Retrieved from https://www.mormonchannel.org/listen/series/enduring-it-well-audio/his-small-moment-nancy-maxwell-anderson-and-cory-maxwell-episode-55

Wilcox, S. M. (2010).  What the scriptures teach us about adversity.  Salt Lake City, UT:  Deseret Book Company.

Wilcox, S. M. (2011).  The Michael Wilcox collection. [CD ROM].  Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company.

‘Watch me, daddy’: How to overcome the need to be validated


Everyone seeks it.

Wants it.

Needs it.

True statements?

Depends on who you ask.

S. Michael Wilcox (2011), a non-fiction religious writer,  believes children have a validation seeking tendency in them he calls, “Watch me, daddy.”  You know, the phrase that refers to kids constantly saying, “watch me, daddy, “watch me, daddy,” “watch me, daddy” as they are climbing all over jungle gyms, going down slides, taking swim lessons or a myriad of other kid things in which they want parents to say, “wow, look at you,” “I see,” “great job,” etc.

Yet, some continue the “watch me, daddy” syndrome into adulthood (Wilcox, 2015).

It may not be a bad thing.  Unless, as Krombert (2014) posits, you are a “serial attention seeker” (para. 7).  In her piece, Attention Trap 1, she opens with a series of questions, after requesting you to “picture yourself at a party” and then ask:

  • What do you do?
  • Do you scan the room looking for someone to flirt with?
  • If no one flirts with you, do you feel less desirable?
  • Do you feel best when flirting with a person whom you know is attached to someone else in the room? (para. 1)

Krombert (2014) explains, “If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you may have fallen into what [she] call[s] an ‘Attention Trap'” (para. 2).

In my opinion, the more confident and sure of oneself, the less need to seek validation.  The less of the former and latter, however, the more.

Some of the most humble and grounded people I know, in my sphere of influence, do not have to let others know they are even in a room.

One I know is a billionaire; yet, works to provide opportunities, without fanfare, for others through time, philanthropy and service.

Yet, I have had to learn to become like this.

In my journey to find myself and place in life and with God, sometimes I took my “spiritual-being” helmet off and put my “human” one on.

Where I had to be noticed.

Had to let every one know.

Had to do the whole “watch, me daddy” dance.

Some grow out of this dance; some do not.

Yet, I believe anyone can.

My experience tells me that those who are spiritually grounded –and not just in words, but actions– are less likely to seek validation than those who are not.

Abraham Maslow, the American psychologist and creator of the often quoted Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model, though, believes, that in his middle rung people need to feel a sense of belonging.

(LifeEdited.com, 2017)

This is normal.  It is what Krombert describes “as either the long-term reinforcement of the self that comes from good friends, family or a committed relationship” versus what she refers to as “the short-term benefits of narcissistic behaviors in which we seek attention, admiration or adoration” (para. 3).

Yet, for those who are ‘serial attention seekers’?

Krombert warns, you could become “addicted” to attention if you need it to fuel your self-esteem (2014).

So the next time you are around people, ask yourself the following:

  • Do I need to be noticed?
  • Why do I need to be noticed?
  • Are my motives pure without any underlining meaning?
  • Could I fly under the radar?
  • Do I need validation to function?
  • Am I loyal?
  • Am I true?
  • Am I congruent?

Yet, a Retired Army Colonel and Chaplain I know provides the best question of all, “Would the Savior approve of your behavior?”  After all, He knows your motives.

If you find you are a serial attention seeker, time to reassess and ask why.

Do some soul-searching.

And put that spiritual helmet back on.  After all, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.  Not the other way around.

Then study how a spiritual being needs validation.

Last time I checked it was only through the Savior.

That is good enough for me.

How about you?


Krombert, J. (2014, June 10). Attention trap part 1: Narcissism, validation and self-worth.  Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inside-out/201306/attention-trap-part-1-narcissism-validation-and-self-worth

LifeEdited.com. (2017).  Moving up and beyond Maslow’s hierarchy.  Retrieved from http://lifeedited.com/moving-up-and-beyond-maslows-pyramid/

Wilcox, S. M. (2011).  The Michael Wilcox collection. [CD ROM].  Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company.

I’d say a 10-15 million dollar mistake, where an employee is kept, warrants a safe work culture: Love is just one of the reasons why

(Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em, 2017)

You’re kidding me, right?

No, true story.

A few years back, I’d interviewed the marketing director at one of the largest, if not THE largest,  U.S. e-tailer.

This director, I’ll call him John, had made a mistake.

And, to most people, a huge one at that.

Actually, a 10-15 million dollar one.

Yet, his company still kept him.


They saw his potential.

And they saw a learning and teaching moment.

The day he was to present to his CEO and CFO about what happened, he thought, “I really could lose my job here.”  In addition to his realizing that not only had he’d made a very, very expensive mistake, but that he’d only been at the company 3-years.

But in he walked.

White board and marker in hand.

“Tell us what happened,” they wanted to know; however, not in a fear-based way, but a hope-based one.

John proceeded to explain that the decision he made was based on said data.

They could see that he was correct.

“Fix it,” they said confidently and lovingly.

And John did.

He would tell me, “I’ve probably got the most expensive education here,” and that he would go through a brick wall for those leaders and company based on how they believed in and trusted him.


Because they gave him a chance.

And they loved him.

Retired Colonel Arthur J. Athens (2008), also the U.S. Academy’s Vice Admiral of the James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical leadership, said, “I believe if you ask any extraordinary leader what does leadership and love have to do with it, they would tell you everything” (p. 17).

Col Athens, USMC (Ret)
(Col. Arthur J. Athens, USMC, (Ret.), n.d.)

And Kaye and Jordan-Evans (2005) believed in that concept so much so that they wrote, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay.

(Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em, 2017)

So, the next time you have an employee who makes a mistake, consider the following:

“Is this employee salvageable?”

“Are they on the wrong seat on the bus?”

“Perhaps they don’t realize their potential yet?”

“Is pride, ego and jealously getting in the way of how I see them?”

“What about all the great things they are doing in my organization?

Yes, there are times, however, when an employee will have to be let go.

Perhaps they broke the law.  Something criminal may have occurred.  Something of that nature.

And sometimes, even, a leader and or an organization may not be ready for an employee or vice-versa.

The timing may not be just right.

That happens.

Yet, the next time you may be considering letting go or firing an employee, ask yourself the questions I poised earlier.

Add to that, Athens (2008) counsel, “Love your people, and you will see amazing things occurr” (p. 17).


To hear Retired Colonel  Athens’ talk on “Leadership: What’s love to to do with it” visit:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-UoqgiAYNw

You can also download a PDF of his talk mentioned above: athens-_-leadership_whats-love-got-to-do-with-it



Athens, A. J. (2008).  Leadership: What’s love got to do with it?  Retrieved from http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA519727

Col. Arthur J. Athens, USMC, (Ret.). (n.d.).  Retrieved from https://www.usna.edu/Ethics/staff/AthensBio.php

Kaye, B. & Jordan-Evans, S. (2005). Love ’em or lose em’: Getting good people to stay.  San Francisco, CA: Berrett Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Love ’em or lose ’em. (2017).  Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Love-Em-Lose-Getting-People/dp/1576753271

Love ’em or lose ’em. (2017).  Retrieved from http://careersystemsintl.com/solutions/engagement-and-retention/love-em-or-lose-em-workshop-for-managers/


Are You Loyal to the Absent?

To Retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent. - Stephen Covey
(Stephen R. Covey Quotes, n.d.)

The late Dr. Stephen R. Covey, from what I understand, coined the concept, “Loyal to the Absent.”  Basically, it means, you are loyal to someone in their presence and absence.  Or as Covey (1994) explains, “Being loyal to those who are absent and assuming good faith of others are keys to building trust in a culture” (para. 1).

This can be a challenge to master; yet, what if we looked at it as an opportunity?

Where people knew, their name was safe with us.

That when we leave a conversation, our name is safe with them, too.

Think, though, of family reunions.  Or workplaces, clubs, families, committees, etc.

Anywhere people exist, the tendency to be disloyal exists.

So how to overcome it?

When someone says something negative about another who is not there to defend himself, you could say something like, “That is not my experience with Jane.  However, I have known her to be full of integrity, etc.”  And then ask to be excused from the conversation.

Not saying anything could be perceived as supporting the disloyalty.

A retired Army Chaplain and Colonel I know is full of loyalty.

He speaks only of peoples’ virtue’s.

Not their vices.

Because of this, I know my reputation, heck my person, is safe with him.

Truly, we can find something good about everyone.  Even if it is just one thing.

After all, if we look for good, we find it.  Conversely, if we look for what people are doing wrong, we find it.

Let’s, though, work to be loyal to those in their absence and presence.

Not only will our words and actions speak volumes, but we will be teaching others how to be loyal in someone’s absence and presence as well.

Another byproduct?  Creating safe and healthy relationships and culture, too.

So next time you have an opportunity to share a vice?

Share a virtue instead.

Then tell everyone.

To read more on “Loyal to the Absent,” visit FranklinCovey.com: http://www.franklincovey.ca/FCCAWeb/aspx/library_articles_eff1.htm


Covey, S. R. (1994). Be loyal to those absent.  Retrieved from http://www.franklincovey.c/FCCAWeb/aspx/library_articles_eff1.htm

Stephen Covey quotes. (n.d.).  Retrieved from http://www.azquotes.com/quote/364202


Are you a Cruella de Ville or a Cinderella?

Image result for Cruella de Ville
(Gallagher, n.d.)

Do you want someone else to fail?

Try to sabotage their success, goals, reputation, and or ambitions?

Can’t stand them getting the limelight?

Feel threatened by it?

Do you smile in their face, but secretly wish they’d bomb?

Do you have to have the last word?

With motives that are impure, along with thoughts, words, and actions?

Do you find yourself finding everything wrong with a person?

If so, sounds like you could be a Cruella de Ville.

You know, the mean and cruel villain in 101 Dalmatians.

Cruella de Ville’s are everywhere.

Full of pride.

All about me.

Taking all the credit.

Point blank, selfish.

Who believe evil is good.

And enjoy cutting others down.

They tend to be loud and animated.

In need of validation.

And a lot of it.

Due to lack of self-esteem.

So, they throw others under the bus.

To make themselves look better.

Oh yeah, they feel entitled, too.

Or are  you a Cinderella?

Image result for cinderella
(Cinderella never gave up, n.d.)

Like the kind, humble, and considerate main character in the book and movie bearing the same name.

Who has faith and hope.

Wants others to succeed (even if it means over herself).

Points out what others are doing right.

Who wants them to shine.

And compliments.

Gives credit to others before herself.

Is determined.


Has grit.

Blends in.

Is selfless.

And pure motives.

In fact, so too, are the words, thoughts, and actions chosen.

So, which one are you?

A Cruella de Ville or a Cinderella?

Since you cannot be both (serve two masters that is).

Guess that depends on what you want your legacy to be.

And how you want to feel on a daily basis.

Darkness or light.

Bearing falsehoods or truth.

God knows.

Actually, deep down, you do, too.




Cinderella never gave up. (n.d.).  Retrieved from http://princess.disney.com.au/cinderella

Gallagher, B. (n.d.). Disney moves forward with live-action Cruella de Ville movie.  Retrieved from http://movieweb.com/disney-moves-forward-with-live-action-cruella-de-vil-movie/

Be a hope-based leader, not a fear-based one

(Kimball, 2011)



“Be a hope-based leader, not a fear-based one” is a blog post from an article I wrote for KSL.com which was published on July 29, 2011 (please click on the above link to read the post.  Note, the photo was chosen by KSL editors).  This piece was written when I was completing my doctorate at UNLV.

Essentially this piece is about how to be a hope-based leader opposed to a fear-based one.

Hope-based leaders exist in workplaces.

So, too, do fear-based ones’

And in homes.


They serve on committees.

Are present in marriages, etc.

This piece explains how one can become a hope-based leader particularly if they are a fear-based one.

I also share my own personal experience with a fear-based leader and how it fueled me to want to be even more hope-based.

Please take a moment to read my blog post on KSL.com: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=1010&sid=16000008

I hope it inspires you to always want to be hope-based no matter what type of fear-based leader you encounter.  That is what I did.  And that is what I strive to do.

My advice to you, no matter what, be hope-based!  😉


Kimball, C. (2011, July 29).  Be a hope-based leader, not a fear-based one.  Retrieved from http://www.ksl.com/?nid=1010&sid=16000008



Hope-Based Communication

“I’m such an idiot,” wrote one student in an email to a professor.  “I can’t believe I messed up!”

“Well the prognosis is not good at all,” the doctor said bluntly to his patient shaking his head back and forth while looking at the ground.  “You’ll need your breasts cut off.”

“You’re late again!” snaps a manager to an employee as she sheepishly walks to her desk.

How we communicate says a lot about a person.

The words chosen.

The tone used.

The body language that speaks volumes.

Hope-based communicators are congruent.

They mean what they say and say what they mean.


They work to inspire.

To motivate.

Because it is good for others.

And them.

Heck, it is good for all.

It is like a good cancer (is there such a thing as a good cancer?).  You know, where something is contagious.

Like enthusiasm.

And you just want to be around it.

Or in it.

So, those fear-based statements we began with?

How bout’ instead …

“I’m so awesome!”

“You’ll need surgery, but we’ll get through this together.”

And, “we’re so glad you could join us.”

After all, isn’t it about how you make them feel?

It sure is.






(Family Photo)

It’s said a lot. You know, you get introduced to someone and the other someone introducing you says, “Yeah, but, let me tell you that she was once into …” Or, “Did you know, he was once a …”

Out comes the dirt.

The negativity.

The crap.

All fear-based stuff.

Instead of one’s virtues.

Their good stuff.

All that’s positive about them.

Anything and everything hope-based.

My name’s Cynthia Kimball Davis and I’m a hope-based guru. “What’s hope-based?” you may ask. Thoughts, words, actions, and motives that are positive and hopeful. My doctoral dissertation, “Heart-based Hope: A matter of life or death,” coalesces my life experiences as educator, businesswoman and medical patient. I used the tenets of hope theory and servant leadership theory, through an autoethnograhpic methodology, to analyze what hope-based actions are, how they impacted my personal life, and how others perceived their own notions of hope-based actions. From my findings, I created a Heart-based Hope Model of Leadership (H2L) to guide leaders to create a heart-centered culture through hope-based action.

But this blog is so much more.

You’ll learn how to become a hope-based communicator.

And how to create a hope-based culture.

And even how to become a hope-based leader.

You ready?

On your mark.

Get set.


To all things hope-based, that’s.