Sunday, September 2, 2007
In conferring with church staff and family members, imagine our surprise when we discovered that his remains were not the only ones contained within the grave. We discovered that in addition to my grandfather, the following other remains were present in the same grave:
• a son of my grandfather, a young boy who had died at the age of two weeks from pneumonia
• unnamed twins, also children of my grandfather, who had been stillborn
• an unknown child who had been placed in the grave during the dark of night at some point between when my grandfather's son and the unnamed twins were buried.
As we prepared to create a headstone for the now five souls instead of one, the unknown child sparked a discussion within the family. Should we identify the unknown child or let the child go unnoticed, limiting the identification on the headstone to the four members of our family? Since I believe that everyone, family or not, should have the respect of being remembered and given that my intuition was telling me I must do this, I insisted that the unknown child be identified as "an unknown child" and the family agreed. I reached out to the local church and asked for a Mass to be said for the five souls and that a blessing be conferred on the newly marked grave.
Having believed I had done "the right thing", imagine my surprise about two weeks later when I received an unsigned letter with no return address. In the letter, the anonymous writer tells a story of shame, of pain, of guilt, of deep sorrow and loss. She (the writer is clearly the mother) identifies when her child would have been buried there and the reasons why. Since I didn't identify to anyone when the child would have been placed there (it was just identified as "an unknown child"), the fact that this woman knew the date tells me the letter is authentic.
It was clear that bringing knowledge of this child to the public drew out the mother who had carried this terrible load for almost 60 years. In writing her letter, she thanked me for doing what she called "the proper Christian thing", by recognizing a child that was not related to the family. She indicated that the Mass brought closure to a painful event in her life and was the one thing that prevented her from going to her own grave with a clear heart and conscience. This small act on our part had brought her release from the pain she had been burdened with for most of her adult life.
This got me to thinking about opportunities we all have at different times to "set things right". It could be an opportunity at work to give credit where credit is due or to laud someone's performance, even if it means that the person being praised gets promoted above us. Perhaps it means reaching out to a long lost friend or a family member to heal a rift over things whose reasons are long since forgotten. It could be taking long overdue action to right some wrong either committed by you or perhaps simply witnessed by you. It could be, as was in this case, something that seemed innocent enough and simply the right thing to do but which turned out to be a powerful act as perceived by someone else.
Whatever the reason, there seems to be opportunity for everyone at some point to either right a wrong committed in the past or to stop and think before acting or speaking, to prevent a wrong from being created. The result could be a powerful release of negative baggage that we or others carry around and by releasing this negative baggage, we are empowered to be more effective as leaders, peers, associates, friends and family members moving forward.
Something to think about!
Take care and create a great day!
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
I was thinking today about how we perceive things that pop up in everyday life. Living in the 21st century is by no means an easy thing. We are constantly confronted with challenges at work, at home, in relationships, etc. Practically everywhere we turn, things happen that may make life appear more difficult than it really is.
To a large extent, how we approach these challenges determines how easily we overcome them and how much we grow personally from having overcome them. As many of you know, I prefer not to use the word "problem" to describe undesirable situations. Instead, I like to substitute the word "challenge" or "opportunity"? When people put themselves down or state that they cannot overcome something, I correct them and remind them of the miracle of their potential. Why do I do this?
Well, I really believe that we become better people when we are stretched -- either mentally or physically. Just as a chess player only learns from playing (and losing to) players that are better than themselves, we usually make the greatest improvements to ourselves when we are challenged in some way. Many times when challenges arise, I know that by applying myself, and being alert to the challenge, I should be a better person as a result of the experience -- as long as I embrace the opportunity to learn.
That's not to say that sometimes a challenge won't momentarily stagger us. In fact, it's quite normal to be angry or frightened when initially exposed to some challenges.
It takes quite a bit of practice to consistently see the positive side of every challenge. Once we realize the benefits of being able to recognize every challenge as an opportunity to grow, we discover that we are able to address future problems with clearer vision and less stress because we know that we will overcome the challenge and be better for it. Learning to do this also helps us to become a more positive, capable, empowered human being. Whether it is faith in a Higher Power or faith in your ability to overcome challenge, belief that the experience exists to make you stronger should propel you towards successfully overcoming the challenge.
Many of us, when we are stressed, experience and express anger. Often, this may be inadvertently directed towards our children, either expressed as anger, impatience, etc. There is a story that has been floating around for years around how to handle anger and the after effects of anger. The story goes like this:
There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence.
Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.
The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.
He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say 'I'm sorry', the wound is still there."
This story comes to mind when I have occasion to be angry and makes me aware of the persistence of doing “the wrong thing”.
It is quite common to forget how to enjoy life in a positive way until we are reminded in some way. For many, the reminder comes in the form of a challenge to their mortality or to the morality of a close friend or relative. When left until then, that person has missed a lot of opportunities to have enjoyed life and to have grown from so many of life's learning experiences.
Many years ago, I had a friend named Donna Butler who was born with a chronic heart condition. With this condition, Donna's family knew that it was a matter of time before she needed a heart transplant or that medical science would provide the technology necessary to correct her failing heart.
Donna and I knew each other from the age of 5 up through the age of 18. I remember her as someone who lived in pain and discomfort every waking moment of her life. However, she looked upon life as something that was delicate, beautiful and something to be cherished. She NEVER had a bad thing to say about anyone or any situation. She was constantly reminded that "today" might be her last day and she treated every day as if it were. When she passed away at the tender age of 18, I lost a wonderful friend who really made a difference to everyone that she came in contact with. What an example she established for everyone who knew her. I’ll bet you know some people in your life who have set similar examples.
Think about how you would live if you knew that today was your last day alive. How would you live that day? Would you react to situations any differently than you currently do? Would you be as cross with your child over a spilled drink? Would you be upset with a spouse or close friend over a simple misunderstanding or a silly argument? When leaving a spouse or significant other to go to work, would you not bother to say "I love you" because you can always say it later (or worse, because you are angry and choose not to say it). When finishing a conversation with a friend, would you forget to appreciate them as a friend because you will see them later? Would you get as stressed over life's challenges if you thought that you would not live to see tomorrow, making the challenge less relevant in the grand scheme of things? Think about it. You have 24 hours to live. Now how important is it that someone just pushed past you in the line at the local fast food restaurant? It's not worth wasting the time to get upset, is it? You have many more important things to do with your limited time.
For me personally, I have been told a few times in my life that I was dying of "some" terminal illness. In the mid 90’s, I was told that I had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and that I had three months to live. By the way, the doctor told me that I shouldn't share this with my wife because it might upset her. I have to admit that I wasn't taking it too well myself!
As my doctor spoke about treatment options which depended on the outcome of some exploratory surgery, my mind wandered back through my life and I thought – “Have I done enough as a person”? If my life ends tomorrow, will I be remembered as a good father and husband? Have I treated my friends and co-workers with the respect that they deserve? The answer, in my mind, was a horrifying no. Even though that was a long time ago now, I still feel that the answer is no. I still let life interfere with the actions that I know to be true and right and at times like that, when I know I have made a major mistake regarding my relationships with those around me, I think back to Donna and her way of living and to how I felt the day I was told I was going to die as a young man. It's sad that I need reminders like this. I hope your reminders come in more benign form.
Here's an exercise that I like to suggest to people. It upsets many of them but it brings the point home quite succinctly.
If you think your life is too complex, or too stress-filled, find yourself a local children's hospital and pay a visit. If you have the courage, go to a local children's cancer clinic. Spend a few hours there and witness what it is really like to have a serious challenge. Experience the pain that these children are experiencing but also feel the strength that these kids exhibit. Speak to a doctor and they will describe incredible stories of hope to you. The kids, their parents and the doctors know that they have serious challenges ahead. However, from the innocence of youth come strength and a positive outlook. These kids are often stronger than their parents. Take a look around you and then reassess your own situation. It doesn't look as bad anymore, does it? I have held more than one grown man in my arms while standing in a parking lot of a children’s hospital, weeping as he realized his priorities and attitudes were not what they should be.
Remember as well, the role that humor can play in helping make your life brighter. People who work with me (or see me outside of work), know me as someone who cracks a lot of jokes, one-liners, etc. (sometimes too many, I know). The reason I do it is to keep the atmosphere around me light and buoyant. I internalize a lot and if I can't keep my mood light and positive looking when certain situations arise, then I get upset. We all know that getting upset doesn't solve anything in the long run. So humor offers a distraction and prevents me from over-analyzing a situation that is not as bad as it would appear if I think about it too deeply!
I'd like to close with a couple of quotes. Einstein once wrote about his three laws of work, namely:
1. Out of clutter, find simplicity.
2. From discord, find harmony.
3. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
I like to refer to them as his three laws of living. The complicated, difficult, challenging thing we call life is actually a wonderful educator that helps us to grow as people. However, we have to view it as a learning opportunity otherwise the opportunity to grow as a person is lost.
William Butler Yeats also has a beautiful quote on living. It is:
"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived"
Say no more.
Abraham Lincoln wrote that "most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be".
Part of viewing life this way ties back to some of our previous posts regarding doing good things for others. Doing good things for others will lighten your spirits and make it easier for you to see life in a positive way.
In parting, try this. Compliment three friends or family members every day regarding some task that they have completed. Say it with sincerity. They will appreciate it -- and you will feel great about it.
Create a great day!
I wrote the original version of this post two days before 9/11. Three of the recipients of this email died in the WTC and to this day, serve as a poignant reminder to me of the necessity to treasure every moment. Please take the time to treasure your gifts – they are numerous and incredible.
Here is an old story about how the challenges of Life create stronger people - enjoy!
The Butterfly By Earl Nightingale
There's a story attributed to Henry Miller, the writer, about a little boy in India who went up to a guru who was sitting and looking at something in his hand. The little boy went up and looked at it. He didn't quite understand what it was, so he asked the guru, "What is that?"
"It's a cocoon," answered the guru, "Inside the cocoon is a butterfly. Soon the cocoon is going to split, and the butterfly will come out."
"Could I have it?" asked the little boy.
"Yes," said the guru, "but you must promise me that when the cocoon splits and the butterfly starts to come out and is beating it's wings to get out of the cocoon, you won't help it. It is important not to help the butterfly by breaking the cocoon apart. It must do it on it's own."
The little boy promised, took the cocoon, and went home with it. He then sat and watched it. He saw it begin to vibrate and move and quiver, and finally the cocoon split in half. Inside was a beautiful damp butterfly, frantically beating its wings against the cocoon, trying to get out and not seeming to be able to do it. The little boy desperately wanted to help. Finally, he gave in, and pushed the two halves of the cocoon apart. The butterfly sprang out, but as soon as it got out, it fell to the ground and was dead. The little boy picked up the dead butterfly and in tears went back to the guru and showed it to him.
"Little boy," said the guru, "You pushed open the cocoon, didn't you?"
"Yes," said the little boy, "I did."
The guru spoke to him gravely, "You don't understand. You didn't understand what you were doing. When the butterfly comes out of the cocoon, the only way he can strengthen it's wings is by beating them against the cocoon. It beats against the cocoon so it's muscles will grow strong. When you helped it, you prevented it from developing the muscles it would need to survive."
It's a story every parent and professional should remember. . .
Handing a child the toy he wants instead of letting him crawl across the room for it or try his best to crawl for it; fulfilling his every whim; loading him down with toys and other shiny beautiful things before he really needs or desires them; emphasizing the importance of grades in school instead of the importance of education. . . all of these things tend to weaken the muscles a child should be developing on his own so that when the time comes to function independently, he will have the strength he needs.
So oftern, what seems harsh or cruel in nature is in reality, wisdon and kindness for the time ahead.
Usually most of the content I post here is original content created by me.
However, I have found much wisdom in the following and wanted to share it with you.
Take care and create a great day!
The following was written by Andy Rooney, a man who has the gift of saying so much with so few words.
I've learned.... That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
I've learned.... That when you're in love, it shows.
I've learned.... That just one person saying to me, "You've made my day!" makes my day.
I've learned.... That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
I've learned.... That being kind is more important than being right.
I've learned.... That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
I've learned.... That I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in some other way.
I've learned.... That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
I've learned.... That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
I've learned.... That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.
I've learned.... That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
I've learned.... That we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.
I've learned.... That money doesn't buy class.
I've learned.... That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
I've learned... That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
I've learned.... That the Lord didn't do it all in one day. What makes me think I can?
I've learned.... That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
I've learned.... That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
I've learned.... That love, not time, heals all wounds.
I've learned.... That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.
I've learned.... That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
I've learned.... That there's nothing sweeter than sleeping with your babies and feeling their breath on your cheeks.
I've learned.... That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
I've learned.... That life is tough, but I'm tougher.
I've learned.... That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
I've learned.... That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
I've learned.... That I wish I could have told my Dad that I love him one more time before he passed away.
I've learned.... That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
I've learned.... That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
I've learned.... That I can't choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it.
I've learned.... That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you're hooked for life.
I've learned.... That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.
I've learned .. That it is best to give advice in only two circumstances; when it is requested and when it is a life threatening situation.
I've learned.... That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.
Take some time to really think about
what you want to do with your life
and be honest with yourself.
Ask yourself if you are happy
the way you are living now or
if you need to make a change.
Happiness comes to those whoare willing to believe in it
and who create it within
their own lives.
You deserve to be happy.
You deserve to be treated with respect.
Your life should be filled with good times,
not troubled ones.
Take some time and think about yourself.
-- Author unknown
My question for you is: What are YOU doing RIGHT NOW to make sure that you are creating a life of Happiness?
Take care and be well.
We think about the impact of our actions and choices on those around us as well as on ourselves to make sure that every choice will be perfect. It is in this concern that every choice must be perfect that many times we make no choice at all or make a choice based on what others tell us is the right thing to do.
Making no choice at all or following the masses keeps us boxed inside what we perceive to be a safe, predictable world, one that doesn't appear to tax our minds and our spirits. We feel content that Life will protect us since we are following the straight and narrow "no-risk" Path. Taking no risks, after all, is the safest way to live Life. We also assume that this "no-risk" Lifestyle is the best environment to expose our family and friends to since that will automatically keep them safe as well.
The truth of the matter is that by always taking the safe Path (or allowing the Path to carry us because of our own indecisions) we are prevented from experiencing the challenges in Life that allow us to grow as individuals. We work hard to make sure that the people that we care about are protected against what might be poor decisions on our part. We should be willing to experience new things in Life with the knowledge that what we learn will make us stronger, wiser and better people, no matter what the actual result of the decision. By being empowered in this way, we are better able to look after the ones we care about. So rather than fear the impact that our decisions have on ourselves and those around us, we should embrace the knowledge and power that comes from the personal growth derived from the outcome of our decisions. This knowledge unleashes our incredible potential and creativity, enables each of us to be the best that we can be and provides us with the tools and abilities to help the people we care about to be the best that they can be.
By making choices in Life, we are also taught ways to handle the unexpected bumps in the Path that most of us face in Life. When we chose the safe Path, we find ourselves not as well equipped to deal with those bumps. When we choose to make our own choices instead of allowing them to be made for us, we train ourselves to anticipate these bumps, to avoid many and to be better able to handle the unforeseen ones that we all must deal with at some point.
Life offers a myriad of challenges and obstacles, which when faced with determination and courage, transform into the most wonderful array of choices and rewards. So we can choose to live the Life of routine and safety, taking what Life offers us or we can take the opportunity to experience Life to it's fullest, allowing us to be stronger for it and empowering us to be better people for ourselves and those around us.
Take care - create a great day!
How many times in your life have you felt personally affronted, offended or disappointed in someone's actions to the point where an apology seemed to be necessary? Sometimes an apology seems important at the time but the incident fades in time to the point where the incident is forgotten and the need for an apology fades with it. Other times, it is felt that an apology is so critical that the relationship cannot continue until the apology is delivered – and a suitable apology at that, not just any half-hearted apology.
It is normal that we sometimes feel an apology is warranted. If the need passes relatively quickly and the relationship continues undamaged, then Life proceeds as it always has and no one is the worse for the incident.
When a relationship becomes damaged or is permanently put on hold while waiting for an apology, then the person waiting for the apology needs to examine the 5 W's regarding the necessity of the apology.
What is to be gained by demanding or holding out for an apology? Is everyone better off while time passes without the apology that is expected? What is lost as this time passes?
Why is the apology needed? Can your life continue with or without it? Will receiving an apology somehow make your life so much better than if you had not received one?
Who benefits from waiting for this apology? Is it possible that waiting for an apology burdens the person waiting for it more so than the person who "should" be giving it?
When has a sufficient time elapsed before an apology is no longer necessary, or would someone rather wait indefinitely, regardless of the impact of this decision? When does someone realize that the need for an apology is not as important as what is lost in the relationship?
Where does the person waiting for the apology expect their life to go if they accumulate enough of these "must have an apology" incidents? That would present quite a burden on someone who already has the many challenges of life presented by living in the 21st century.
The fact is that the day you cannot forgive somebody for an act committed is the day you can stop expecting forgiveness for any act that you may commit against others. It is also true that while receiving an apology may make your past seem better in your eyes, does holding out for one indefinitely make your future better? I doubt if it does.
The pain or hurt that we perceived for which an apology is demanded is often encased in a lot of emotion, which prevents us from analyzing the true source of it and prevents us from beginning the process of healing one's self and one's relationships. This pain festers and grows on negative energy. It drags people down and becomes a preoccupying thought that prevents them from reaching their truest potential. It is so easy to say "I will never let that person hurt me again" yet what is hurting you the most – the act committed against you or the negative energy that you are accumulating as you keep reliving the incident and affirming the need for an apology. Alan Paton, a famous writer, summed it up nicely when he wrote, "When a deep injury is done, we never recover until we forgive".
It is so easy to rationalize not forgiving someone by saying "If I forget this incident, then I am opening myself to being offended again later". However, this thought continues the pain, hurt and other emotions that are wrapped around the original incident, preventing one from analyzing the incident and truly evaluating it on it's merits. Forgiving someone releases this negative energy and allows one to grow and to learn from the incident. Isn't this what Life is all about – to learn from our experiences so that we can handle them better the next time? How can we expect to grow and experience Life to it's fullest if we refuse to learn from the lessons offered to us?
Mahatma Gandhi once said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong". There is a common expression along the same lines that it takes a big person to forgive. It is easy to hold a grudge for a long time (or forever). It takes true internal strength to forgive.
Some people like to say they forgive someone but they never forget the incident. Is this true forgiveness, or do you at some level put the relationship on probation, waiting for the next affront to upset you all over again? To not forget the incident when it is forgiven is not true forgiveness and people should not delude themselves by thinking that forgiving and not forgetting go hand in hand.
There are people who feel that punishment is warranted and that somehow the apology is connected with this punishment, almost as if the apology serves as a form of humiliation in the initial stages of retribution. This adds unnecessary negativity to the need for an apology – the negativity associated with some form of revenge. Life has a way of rewarding or punishing people when the time is right, whether that person wants it or expects it. So rather than assuming that one has the right to be administering some form of justice, isn't it better to let Life handle each person as they deserve? Plus, the incident that you think an apology is warranted for may be a single low point in an otherwise perfect life on the part of the other person – so what gives you the right to exact punishment on them for this? On the contrary, perhaps you brought on the incident so what gives you the right to punish someone for an action that you brought on or instigated?
Forgiving some people may also confuse them. Some incidents may in fact warrant an apology but it is not worth waiting for, for some of the reasons discussed previously. Forgiving this person will be a release for you and will offer a lesson to the other person, a lesson that they may not understand immediately. Rather than try to impose a lesson on them, allow time to reveal the power of forgiveness to them. Sara Paddiston summarized this when she wrote, "Sincere forgiveness isn't colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don't worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time."
Holding grudges is also a great way to build enemies. Life is challenging enough without creating additional challenges. If through a simple act, we can create or maintain relationships or at the very least, nullify an enemy, isn't this a better thing than to be looking over our shoulder as we watch out for the actions of our enemies.
Forgiving someone is not a license for that person to hurt again. However, by forgiving them, you provide a learning opportunity to that person as well and through your actions, both parties grow. If someone takes advantage of repeated forgiveness on your part, then it is time to review and discuss your relationship with that person.
Everyone has a purpose on this earth and we are all connected on many levels. Herman Melville noted, "We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects." Since Life rewards or punishes based on our actions, the positive action of forgiveness will be returned to us in a positive way. To be unable to forgive is to be unable to love.
Let us also not forget that we are not perfect. We have committed our own acts that perhaps we are not proud of, that someone else may expect an apology for. We may choose to stand our ground, insisting that an apology is not necessary. At some point the proverbial "light" comes on and you see the situation for what it is – you are unwilling to apologize for something yet find yourself wondering why you can't receive an apology for a different incident. Opening our hearts to forgiveness also enables us to apologize when the need is there and therefore we learn by forgiving.
So given all of this, why would you rather hold all of this negative energy inside you and allow it to cripple you, hold you back, encourage sleepless nights and inhibit your life. Forgiveness, love and Life are intertwined. Free yourself from the trappings and negative energy of grudges, forgive those who need forgiveness, apologize to those you have affronted and know that you will have opened your heart and your mind to a better life – one where you can more easily recognize and accept Life's gifts and wonder.
Namaste – the Divine in me honors the Divine in you
When is enough really enough? At what point in our lives do we say, "Yes, I have everything I have ever needed or will ever need"? How many times do we find ourselves wondering how we will be able to buy this, that or the other thing, whether it is a new car, new clothing, a new computer or anything else we need? Do we really need the things that we are buying or do we buy it because it is really a "nice to have" and not a "need to have". We worry about being able to acquire things that many people, even in our own culture, wouldn't dare to dream of.
As we cultivate our collection of stuff and help many companies become richer as we do this, do we ever stop to consider the things that we need that cost very little if anything? Too many times, the things that bring us the greatest rewards are missed in our effort to quickly attain the next item in our crusade to fill our abode with trappings that quickly gather dust or get in the way. Instead of working on ways to spend money on things we don't need or wasting time figuring out how we can accomplish this, we should be working on things that are far more rewarding and much less expensive!
We can start small by enjoying the gifts that Nature provides to us. Savoring a sunrise or sunset, one that will never happen again, is a good start. As you watch the sun set or rise, know that you are experiencing something that will never happen again in the universe. Diamonds are valuable because there are not many on Earth. How valuable is something that exists in only one copy and once gone, can never be gotten back?
After appreciating the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, we can move on to the gifts offered by Nature in the form of natural beauty all around us. Before us are rolling hills, towering mountains, restless oceans, frozen tundra, steaming jungles, massive plains, gentle streams, roiling rivers and every form of animal, mineral and vegetable all co-existing. How powerful this is when reflected upon. The miracle that is Life is an incredible gift that is often overlooked. Everything has its place and everything works together, each needing those around it and contributing to the needs of others at the same time. There is a lesson to be learned from this ability to need and be needed without asking why or "what's in it for me?".
Now examine mankind. Mankind is blessed with the curse that comes from having the power to have anything desired and the power to destroy it equally quickly, probably because that which is desired is so fleeting in the grand scheme of Life. Deep down inside, we don't appreciate many of the gifts that we are given because we know that if they are lost, they can somehow be easily attained again.
In contrast to physical gifts, consider these gifts which are often not as cherished yet are more valuable:
- the happiness in a child's laugh
- the delight in a child's eyes at something newly discovered
- the empowerment of good friendship
- seeing the world through the eyes of youth
- the feeling of having done a good deed, especially anonymously
- overcoming a tremendous challenge
- knowing you made a difference in someone's life
- the feeling of being in love or being needed by someone.
Too many people rate their life by how much stuff they have or how much someone else has in contrast to them. They feel that if they could elevate themselves within society that they would be much happier. However, as they stress about lifting themselves higher, they continue to race through life ignoring the gifts that Nature holds out to us.
How about if we slow down for one moment and instead of wishing for what we could have "if only", we actually said "thank you" for what "is" and then structured our Life from that point onward. Imagine the result that could come from this perspective – to live to be grateful for the now instead of the future that always seems to be just slightly in front of you. Sometimes we actually reach the golden ring that we have been reaching for at all cost, including time, money and relationships and realize that what we perceived as the golden ring is a tarnished brass ring and that the true gifts that we really needed were those we passed by in order to reach the ring.
Once we learn to cherish the gifts around us every day, we will be empowered to accomplish greater things and Life will indeed reward us in ways that we wouldn't otherwise imagine. This will also help us to approach Life in a much more positive way instead of lamenting about of the things that Life hasn't given us. Your potential is limitless when Life is approached in a positive way!
Take care and create a great day!
Monday, August 6, 2007
When a person reached 42 years of age centuries ago, it was a rare enough event that you were considered an elder to have reached that milestone. Nowadays, many people's lives do not really begin until they reach their 40's as it is around that time that they really discover what their life is meant to be and so they really begin to live life at that point, having been empowered with new direction, resources and drive.
As I make my way through my 40's, I could not help but reflect on a lifetime of 40+ years. I remember one night sitting on my deck watching the falling stars that were in abundance and two thoughts came to mind – abundant blessings and gratitude.
My life has been a plethora of unique and distinct events and interactions that have brought me to this point. Some were incredibly difficult at the time as are challenges that we all face at some point in our lives. Some were incredible blessings that I may or may not have seen as blessings at the time. Whether they are still viewed as challenges or blessings depends on your perspective – were they problems or learning opportunities and gifts? I believe they were all opportunities to learn, grow and improve as a person.
One thing I do not believe in is coincidences. I believe that everything that occurs in our lives occurs to make us better people, to help us along a journey that many people over the years have studied, pondered and written about.
I believe that each of us was meant to cross paths at some point in our lives. Sometimes it was just to provide an opportunity for one to offer insight to another. Perhaps we were meant to learn from each other in some way. Sometimes someone in need really appreciated someone else being there to help him or her through a difficult time. Maybe the reason we crossed paths was so that we could learn more about ourselves and from that learning experience, could elevate ourselves to the next level of our existence. Perhaps it was so that we could be blessed by introducing new lives into the world.
Whatever the reason, I believe I am a better person because of knowing each of you. I am grateful for the things you have taught me and for the things I learned from having known you. Some of us have known each other for a long time, others only briefly. However, each of you has made a dramatic, indelible stamp on who I am and I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I think it is important to sometimes sit down to take inventory of our blessings. In this fast paced world that we live in, a world seemingly designed to score people on how important we are, how much further ahead we are in the race, etc., we lose sight of the importance of the people who have made a difference in our lives and who will continue to make difference in our lives moving forward. This difference can appear to be slight or dramatic. However, given that each difference makes us better as a person, it makes them all invaluable.
When people ask me about the things I have done in my life, they are amazed by it. When I ask them about their life, they are modest and yet when I coax their story out of them, I am even more amazed by theirs. I met with Pauline and Ravi (both members of this group) last week in Redmond and I found their stories to be amazing and powerful (and I hope they will share their stories with you soon)! When people like Keith (on this group) tells me his REAL passion, I am inspired by it and encourage him to go for it. My great friend Jonathan has incredible passion to make a difference - a passion that inspires everyone who comes in contact with him. Everyone you come in contact with has a great story - encourage them to tell it, stoke their desire and passion and take their story to new heights. Each of you has such a story - let's not be too shy to share it with others. I think sometimes that being modest about life causes us to forget what a miracle this thing called Life really is and how truly abundant our blessings really are. When we stop to contemplate how incredibly diverse and abundant Life is, then we really open our eyes and our hearts to the true potential that Life offers.
So I thank each of you for everything you have offered to me. Sometimes I did not see the gift for the beautiful thing that it was. Sometimes I let people down because I was not grateful enough or wise enough to understand the gifts before me. For those situations, I can only say that I was (and still am) a learning human being.
I expect (demand) at least another 60 years of good living. Good living to me means giving before getting, appreciating the abundance of gifts all around me, appreciating our individual talents, believing that everyone here has a purpose and when they come in contact with you, that part of their purpose is to influence you (and you them). They are teaching you something, even if you don't realize it – so be grateful for the interaction as it occurs.
Good living also means saying thank you a lot, not because it is expected but more when it is unexpected. It means spontaneous, random acts of kindness. It means helping others when they need it but don't necessarily ask for it. It means making a difference in people's lives, especially children's lives. I came across this quote the other day and it really struck a nerve with me.
"A hundred years from now, it won't matter what your bank account was, the sort of house you lived in, or the kind of car you drove, but the world may be different because you were important in the life of a child."
I will close this brief musing by saying thank you again. I give you credit for the strong points of my life and my character and I take responsibility for continuing to work on the things that need to be improved. Hopefully I can repay your gifts to me by passing on similar gifts to others.
So I leave you with the notion of "tag – you're it". Pass some thanks along to someone you haven't thanked in a while. As the story goes that the slightest air from a butterfly's wings in Asia can grow into a powerful hurricane on the other side of the world, so too can a "thank you" grow into something wonderful as it spreads.
Yours in peace and friendship. Create a great day!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I recently had an opportunity to work with a colleague to help explore her strengths and weaknesses and as a template, we used Marcus Buckingham’s Go Put Your Strengths to Work. It was an enlightening experience for me as it also provided me with an opportunity to examine my own strengths and weaknesses from an objective standpoint. In doing so, I had a few AHA moments that I knew existed but they really stood out this time as I helped my associate establish her own attributes.
How many of us REALLY know what our strengths are? Do we even know how to define strengths in general, as in what constitutes a strength? Do we perceive our actual strengths or do we have some filters on that cause us to identify things that are NOT our strengths but we think they are. Conversely, do we know what weakens us and how well do we avoid that which weakens us?
Many people feel that strengths are what you do well. However, Buckingham conjectures that strengths are not as much what you do well but that which you approach with energy and passion such that when you have completed a task that aligns with your strengths, you feel more energized than before you started. Sometimes what others perceive as strength in you may not actually be one.
I will share a personal example. Many people perceive me as a great mediator when two parties fall apart, since I am able to look at things from a different perspective, establish common ground between the parties and then use that common ground as a foundation to knit the parties back together.
However, truth be told that while I can do this very well, I get little satisfaction out of it outside of the good feeling that I met my social obligation as a human being helping another. I find the process somewhat frustrating since I see the silliness that brought people to that point in the first place and I find it draining to convince people to see what I believe to be OBVIOUS (and fight with them the whole way to help improve THEIR lives, although they see it as interfering while demanding my help at the same time). :-)
Now, if you ask me to get involved with people to help them learn the skills that they need to avoid being in that situation in the first place, that’s where you see my passion come alive. Sharing and learning proactive, collaborative living skills is a passion for me. I can go all day working with people on this subject and NEVER get tired.
In our day to day lives, we have opportunities to utilize our strengths, making every day powerfully fulfilling or we can cater to the whims and needs of others, doing things that either do not make use of our strengths and passion (or worse, appeal directly to our weaknesses – leaving us tired, bored and frustrated).
Crafting a role that aligns to your strengths takes courage. Many people could care less if what you do appeals to what makes you feel empowered. As long as they satisfy their own needs or they satisfy the needs of someone higher than them using what you provide, it is irrelevant to them whether or not you are using the skills, talent and knowledge that fuel your passion. However, it should be very important to YOU! If you don’t pay attention to this, it leads to mediocrity, poor results, lack of fulfillment and a whole slew of other issues.
What if you had a tool that showed you how to capture, clarify and articulate your strengths and weaknesses and to create a plan to execute more towards your strengths and less towards your weaknesses? Imagine if you were able to communicate to your peers and people above / below you what your strengths were and that by utilizing your strengths, the result of your work would be superior to what you are producing now and you would be a more valuable contributor to the needs of others.
Think how empowering that would be for you and for others that you work with and influence. Others would want to know your secret and as you share this process with them, they would also become more in alignment with their strengths; talents, knowledge, skills and passion for excellence and execution. More effective results would be produced and people would be far happier in the meantime.
Instead of relying on someone to do something for you even if producing it means they are at their wits end, you would find someone who actually derives self empowerment from doing it, freeing up the person you previously relied on to drive their passion in areas that make a more significant, profound impact on the team. Instead of blindly doing things for others because it is “what they want”, you can help them understand that you can provide better support if they request things in alignment with your strengths. It may be difficult to swallow at first, but it reaps huge rewards once people understand how to make each person a better contributor (based on their strengths).
You wouldn’t ask me to perform brain surgery on you. Would you ask a brain surgeon to operate on you if you know that while you are lying on the table, 95% of the doctor’s mind was on something else that REALLY fueled his or her passion? Either scenario would produce the same result.
How does one package this all together, to identify your strengths and weaknesses objectively, to create plans that use this information effectively to bring passion back to your personal and professional life and to communicate your new intentions to those around you? Start with Marcus Buckingham’s book Go Put Your Strengths to Work.
It is a powerful personal discovery process that will leave you excited (“I really like doing this and intend to do more of it”), angry (“Why have I wasted so many years doing this when I can’t stand it”), aware (“Aha, that’s why I never liked doing this before”) and self empowered (“The best way for me to contribute to those around me is by doing this”).
It’s a fabulous journey that I invite you to explore. If the process doesn’t produce deep conviction and emotion, you didn’t do it right. J If your work and your life are not producing passion to execute, to make a difference and to contribute to those around you, then it’s time to realign your Path!
Take care and be well.
Friday, June 29, 2007
I had a conversation with someone last night who had clearly lost his passion for execution. In exploring where his passion had disappeared, the following questions came up that I am repeating as best as I can remember them. They offer interesting food for thought.
Whose voice do you listen to? Do you listen to the one that drives your passion and taps your strengths or do you listen to the one that tells you what to do, even if you are bored out of your mind?
Do you listen to the one that brings excitement to your day or do you listen to the one that brings frustration?
Do you listen to the one that empowers you to help others or to you listen to the one that produces no tangible benefits for anyone?
Do you listen to the voice that is gentle but persistent or do you listen to the voice that is loud and obnoxious, suggesting it has priority because "it is the loudest"?
Do you listen to the voice that supports your agenda, purpose and passion or do you listen to the voice that drives the needs of others at the sacrifice of your own?
Failing to listen to your voice can lead to inaction, uncertainty, frustration, fear, anxiety, stress, and dissatisfaction – all things that prevent you from finding true fulfillment in life (both yours and those whom you are meant to help). Always listening to other’s voices at the expense of your own needs satisfies someone else’s needs at the sacrifice of your own. I’m not saying don’t compromise because life is filled with opportunities for give and take. However, don’t squelch your own passions so that you can help others live theirs.
I am reminded of something that Rick Warren of “A Purpose Driven Life” fame wrote. He discusses the notion of SHAPE when it comes to influencing others, based on our:
We have incredible talents but many times, we do not utilize them, because we are not listening to our voice, a voice that is the only thing in tune with our passions and strengths.
I am reminded of this quote from 1 Thessalonians chapter 1 verse 3:
Your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love and your endurance inspired by hope.
As Wayne Dyer (and others) have said many times:
Do not die with the music still in you.
As for my voice, I am accelerating a personal variation of Rick Warren’s PEACE plan, namely:
Plant centers of excellence wherever possible to encourage and incubate the potential of people
Equip leaders to be more effective at the softer side of things that are important to people
Assist the poor
Care for the sick
Educate the next generation to acquire the proper self-empowerment belief systems necessary to make a difference.
Follow your voice and make a difference that aligns with your passions, your talents and your strengths.
Take care and create a great weekend!
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Every one of us likes to feel like we mean something to someone else. We strive for reasons to contribute to others lives as we make our way through our own busy lives. Sometimes it is important, though, for us to slow down once in a while and remember that while we are grateful for others appreciating us, there are people around us who maybe need us to reach out to them.
It doesn't have to be a long message nor does it have to be elaborate in execution. A few months back, a great friend of mine (a Services Exec in MCS) was going through a delicate, complex, significant business negotiation with a client and I knew he was having a stress filled week. At one point, I was thinking of him and saw him online and flashed a message that simply read "Hope all is well - just letting you know I'm here if you need anything - no reply necessary". He thanked me later and indicated that he really appreciated the ping of support and that it made a difference in how he executed his day. Again, nothing fancy - as they say, it's the thought that counts.
Sometimes it means taking care of strangers just because the opportunity is there. I've mentioned in the past about helping the overwhelmed lady behind the Continental counter at Newark Airport this winter past. I did that one for fun (if you don’t know the story, little ‘r’ me and I will send it to you). However, sometimes the stakes are higher and you must go with your instinct to make a difference, even if you don’t understand why at the moment.
I have shared the following story with some of you before but it is worth repeating to make a point. A few years back, I was embroiled in a large international fraud trial in New York Supreme Court. As key witness for the prosecution, I alternated between being perceived as everyone's best friend and everyone's worst enemy. I had death threats against myself and my family and I had been offered incredible bribes. One Wednesday I was driving along the highway when I received a call on my cell phone from one of the parties in the case. I wanted to concentrate on the call, so I pulled over on a local beach to take it.
For the hour that I was on the call, I could not believe how Life was so complicated and how I had allowed myself to get caught up in such a mess. During that hour, I kept noticing a lady in a red car to my left who was crying profusely, with her head in her hands.
When I was finished with the call and wondering what could make my day darker, I started my truck and drove away. When I drove about 150 feet or so, I had a feeling that something wasn't right, so I turned around and went back to the red car.
I walked over to the driver's side and tapped on the glass. Now you can imagine someone 6 foot three with dark glasses on, approaching a woman in a remote area - an intimidating situation for the woman to be sure. The lady opened the window about an inch and I asked her if she was ok. She indicated that she was fine. I told her that from where I sat, she did not appear to be fine at all. I also told her that however dark Life appeared to her at that moment, it was in fact filled with love for her and that if she could see that, she would find the way out of the darkness that she saw. She thanked me and I walked away. As I got back to my truck, I thought "Nope, that's still not good enough". I turned around, went back and gave her my name and phone number on a piece of paper. I told her to call anytime and that there were lots of people out there who could help her find the light that she needed. She thanked me again and I left.
A week later, almost to the hour, I was driving past the same spot and realized that my cell phone wasn't on. I turned it on and it promptly told me that I had a message. I pulled over and listened to the message, a message so profound that I couldn't speak so I silently passed the phone to my wife Rowan so she could listen to it.
It was a message left at 1:20 that morning. It was clear by the message from the mysterious lady I had met a week earlier, that while I had been wondering why my Life was so complicated, Lynn, as the caller identified herself, was contemplating why Life was worth living. She had been waiting for me to leave so that she could find the end that she thought would solve her problems. It appeared that my spontaneous act had interrupted plans that would have had a much darker result had I not spoken to her.
She indicated in her message that my act of compassion and kindness would stay with her forever and I suspect that she will pass this compassion and kindness on to others. When my day is difficult I replay her message to help put my day back into perspective.
My point with this story is that there are people all around us who need something from us, an unrequested but necessary action to make a difference in their lives (and ours too, we just don’t know it at the time). Maybe it's a kind word to compensate for a rough day. Maybe it's stepping up to take the kids for a bit to give a spouse a break. Maybe it's that random act of kindness to a complete stranger that has an impact down the road in ways that you may never know.
Tim Sanders tells a similar story that happened to him as a result of a presentation that he made. Here is his story on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFEbWXwhQmU&mode=related&search
The bottom line is this. While we need to feel loved, respected, appreciated and all of that good stuff (and may get agitated, angry or sad if we don’t' receive it in the quantity and quality we desire), remember that many people around us are feeling the same. Perhaps in order to receive more, we need to give more. The old adage "the more you give, the more you will receive" holds true in this case.
Norman Macewan once wrote "Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." This quote, when lived at its most fundamental level, is profound.
I wish you all a wonderful July 4th holiday. The spirit of independence which we celebrate also empowers us to make a difference to others. Let's make sure we exercise that right as many times as we can. The world is in need of it.
Take care and create a great day.
Friday, June 22, 2007
As you know, I am passionate about living a life of gratitude and sharing with others. Many of us like to believe that we are passionate about things but many times we are passionate about that which we avoid as opposed to being passionate about what we want to accomplish - passionate about moving away from that which we fear rather than passionate about running towards that which we desire. Ask someone about what they passionately want and many can’t tell you – but take something away and you will discover how passionate they are about losing something.
The reasons we tend to hold back our passion are many but most of the reasons are tied up in fear and doubt (even procrastination is an incarnation of fear) ….. things like:
1. My family will think I am crazy
2. My friends will think I am crazy
3. Complete strangers will think I am crazy
4. My company will assume I am a risk to their business model and I will be fired
5. Being passionate will cause me to take risks, risks that will result in failure
6. The failure from point 5 will cause me and those I support to lose everything
7. Someone else can do it better than I can or is already doing it and I just don’t know it yet
8. I can’t afford to start being passionate about something
9. I’m too old to start getting passionate about something
10. I can start getting passionate tomorrow – there’s lots of time left in my life
11. I’ll get passionate when I get some spare time (but I’m too busy to clean up my calendar to create more time)
12. I’m not really passionate about anything
13. No one is interested in what I have to say or do
14. I’m not smart enough
15. I am not handsome / attractive enough
16. I don’t have enough education
17. If I want something, others will think I am greedy
18. If I share something, others will think I am showing off or flaunting my abundance
19. There is no one out there to help me execute on my passion
20. The area I live in is not conducive to success
The list goes on and on. Many of you will have other beliefs that are either variants of this list or additions to the list. Scientists now believe that the origins of such beliefs are rooted as much in our genetic makeup as they are in our background and upbringing.
The unfortunate part of such a belief system is that we never reach the potential that not only are we capable of but that we have a responsibility to explore as the miracle that we are: to cultivate opportunity, harvest them and share them with others.
I have spoken throughout Canada and the US regarding the notion of living a life of gratitude (one of my speeches is attached for any of you who have not read it – many have read it and I apologize to you for the redundant mailing). I believe that living a life of gratitude stokes my passion for constantly trying to raise my awareness and capabilities to new levels. This fuels my passion for wanting to help others and opening the door to allow others to help me. It is my humble belief that such a lifestyle leads to abundance in a number of areas in my life.
From speaking with you individually, I know that each of you believes in the same fundamental belief system, but we all execute on different levels of success based on background, upbringing, genetics, our perception of how empowered we are to execute (the perception being negated by the previously discussed list) and the level of passion we feel regarding the execution.
The challenge is that if we wait for the right moment to execute our passion, that perfect moment when our desire aligns with everything else that we believe must be set up perfectly, for many the opportunity to execute never happens. Our fear of failure prevents us from acting unless we are absolutely assured of success; assurances that don’t exist anyway despite our desires or perceptions.
So I would like to offer a challenge to each of you this week. Assuming you had unlimited time, energy and money, you would be capable of living out your wildest dreams, of fulfilling your passion to achieve anything you wanted in your life. With such assumptions in mind, you would obviously take action, not fearing failure, not fearing what others would say to you, etc. If you follow the writings of Covey, Dyer, Waitley, Wattle, Hill and others, one of their common themes is that you will “see it when you believe it” not “believe it when you see it” – the notion that everything you desire is created twice – first in the mind and then in reality.
If you know what your passion is, take at least one action towards that passion, especially if the passion or action is outside of your comfort zone. Don’t choose something that is a little out of your comfort zone – go wildly outside your comfort zone with the belief that you are headed towards success. As long as it benefits someone (or yourself), the opinion of other people should not deter you from taking a step closer to your passion. Many people will try to slow you down because they don’t want to be left behind – they have the same fear of execution but instead of shedding the fear, will strive to hold you back to “keep them company”. The week after, take a larger step and each week after that, challenge yourself to outperform your previous steps. Pretty soon, you will be accomplishing things you never thought you were capable of.
If you believe you don’t have a passion yet, take some time this week to reflect on this. Everyone has a passion for something – for many it is dormant inside or fear of failure keeps it from manifesting. I’m sure that you will find your passion if you reflect on where you have come from and where you are going and perform such reflection without fear. If after that, you still don’t feel passionate about anything, drop me an email. J I can share some tools and techniques to help you discover your passion.
One final challenge – as in business, where your business is either growing or dying (there is no middle ground), your personal growth must always be taking place or at some point, you will be left behind. Make it a goal to read at least one book per week that improves you personally or professionally. For those who are short on time, there is always time to take care of yourself, putting yourself in a position to help others. When the oxygen mask deploys in an aircraft, airlines encourage you to put your mask on first and then help the child next to you. By doing so, you save both people; yourself and the child. If you struggle to help the child first without putting on your own mask first and you take too long to help them, you both fail. So when people tell me they didn’t help themselves this week so that they can help others, I remind them of this story. Sooner or later, they will run out of momentum, knowledge and skills and may not be able to help anyone.
Take a step towards manufacturing your own destiny. As I was quoted by Bob Proctor recently, “Everyone's life is under someone's control - it might as well be under your own so that you can direct your destiny." Harvest from the unlimited abundance all around us and then help others to do the same. It is our responsibility and obligation – and it feels great.
Take care and be well.
Create a great week!
A powerful article from an author whose writings changed my life many years ago. Have a great week!
Follow Your River
Are you immersed in your "river of interest" or simply watching your life from the shore ... afraid to get your feet wet?
There are two distinct kinds of successful people. There are what I call the river people and the goal people. Let's take a good look at the river people. River people are those fortunate people who find themselves born to perform a special task. Mozart and da Vinci were river people. There are thousands of river people living today. They're the people who know from childhood what they want to do with their lives.
River people seem born to spend their lives in pursuit of their interest. And they throw themselves into their rivers 100 percent, busying themselves with whatever it happens to be. They don't tend to think about the idea of success or the making of money; they simply spend their lives doing the best they can in their river of interest. And they're often responsible for some of the largest achievements and institutions on earth.
We all know the stories of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. The businesses that have grown from their inventions encircle the globe and are among the largest on the planet. Einstein was such a person, of course, but there are thousands of them that we never hear of. They are people who would be perfectly content in their fields of interest with only a modest maintenance diet and a roof over their heads. Their work is everything. But because they usually render a very valuable service in the performance of their work, be it in the arts or sports or commerce, they're usually well rewarded for their efforts, though they may struggle for years before recognition and success come to them.
Dr. Abraham Maslow talked about such people. He said, "One could say a good match is like the perfect love affair or friendship in which it seems that people belong to each other and were meant for each other. In the best instances, the person and his job fit together and belong together perfectly, like a key in a lock, or perhaps resonate together like a sung note which sits in a sympathetic resonance, a particular string on a piano keyboard." And Maslow said, "Simply as a matter of the strategy and tactics of living well and fully, and of choosing one's life instead of having it determined for us, this is a help."
It's so easy to forget ultimates in the rush and hurry of daily life, especially for young people. So often, we're merely responders, so to speak, simply reacting to stimuli, to rewards and punishments, to emergencies, to pains and fears, to demands of other people, to superficialities. It takes a specific, conscious effort, at least at first, to turn one's attention to intrinsic things and values. Perhaps seeking actual physical aloneness. Perhaps exposing one's self to great music, to good people, to natural beauty, and so forth. Only after practice do these strategies become easy and automatic so that one can be living totally immersed in his or her river.
I believe that each of us, because of the way our genetic heritage is stacked, has an area of great interest. And it's that area that we should explore with the patience and assiduity of a paleontologist on an important dig where it's a region of great potential. Somewhere within it, we can find that avenue of interest that so perfectly matches our natural abilities, we'll be able to make our greatest contribution and spend our lives in work we love.
If we can find our river of interest, we need only throw ourselves into it, fully committed, and there spend our days learning and growing and finding new emerging fields of interest within its boundaries.
EARL NIGHTINGALE was the author of Lead the Field. To read more articles by Earl Nightingale, "The Cure for Procrastination" (Sep/Oct 2005) and "The Strangest Secret" (Nov/Dec 2004), visit http://www.nightingale.com/a~AuthorID~12.asp today
From Leo Buscaglia’s Born for Love
Asking yourself questions and answering them honestly is a good path to self-knowledge. In keeping with this idea, I'd like to propose a few end-of-the-day questions for each of us...
Is anyone a little happier because I came along today?
Did I leave any concrete evidence of my kindness, any sign of my love?
Did I try to think of someone I know in a more positive light?
Did I help someone to feel joy, to laugh, or at least, to smile?
Have I attempted to remove a little of the rust that is corroding my relationships?
Have I gone through the day without fretting over what I don't have and celebrating the things I do have?
Have I forgiven others for being less than perfect?
Have I forgiven myself?
Have I learned something new about life, living or love?
I had an interesting interaction today with an associate and it brought some interesting thoughts to mind that I wanted to share and to invite some dialog on.
In the goal setting / life architecture program that I incubated for inner city youth, one of the things the kids and I discuss is the notion of overcoming the limited belief that people cannot accomplish things because they have limited access to time, energy and money. This fear prevents many people from striving to reach their dreams, because they believe they don’t have enough of “what it takes” in order to begin on their path and to reach their goals. For that reason, many people wait until the right moment to execute, only to discover years later that they waited too long because the perfect alignment of all resources never seemed to arrive.
In helping a good friend of mine (a fellow ‘Softee) sort through some messy client stuff today, someone else stepped up and said “One of the reasons this failed is that we don’t have enough time or people to do it right” to which I replied “Lack of success doesn’t stem from lack of resources – it stems from lack of resourcefulness”. I seem to recall that Norman Vincent Peale or someone similar coined this phrase many years ago.
However, it got me to thinking. With the pressures on our personal and professional lives, it is sometimes easy to fall back on an inability to execute because we believe we have limited time, energy and money and because of this belief, our intention to execute is stifled by fear that we are not equipped to seek out our ultimate goals or to execute things successfully. However, if we start to believe this on a consistent basis, perhaps we open ourselves up to not only lack of progress toward life goals, but perhaps to the potential for failure, with the thought that we can leverage the excuse of lack of this, that or the other thing to back us up when we fail.
When one considers unlimited time, energy and money to accomplish that which we wish to accomplish, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we have it within our personal portfolio. It is through recognizing that out network contributes to our success just as we contribute to the success of our network that we have access to unlimited resources. So when we need time, energy or money to execute successfully, we need to be open to leveraging the help of those whom we collaborate with just as we can be counted on when someone needs our help.
Only by doing this can we reach new heights of success and to help others reach their own new heights of success. People need to recognize more often that they can’t do it all themselves and no one expects them to. Leveraging the talents of the wonderful people all around us will take us to new heights and create opportunities that we never envisioned that we would have the opportunity to partake in.
I am very much interested in how readers of this blog help others leverage appropriate skills to make them more successful personally and professionally and how you helped someone overcome barriers (or how someone helped you overcome barriers) towards success.
Comments are welcome and invited.
I wish you all a wonderful day. Create opportunities for success where you can.
I was poking around some old notes and came across a goody from Dale Carnegie that, while written 50 years ago, is as important today as ever. As I have the blessing to speak to many people every day, it seems to me, in my humble opinion, that many people’s lives are filled with great intentions to do the right thing for themselves and others but for some reason, something “pops up” every day that required attention first. For many of those people, they live in a world of frustration, waiting to do that which they know they want to do but feel that they can’t for one reason or another (many of the reasons aren’t real). I think of some quotes from Michel de Montaigne:
“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened”
“Nothing is so firmly believed as what we least know”
“He who fear will suffer, he already suffers from his fear”.
Anyway, on to the nugget from Dale Carnegie. Be well and create a great day, everyone! [Author note: An anonymous reader pointed out on December 29, 2014 that in fact the author of this nugget is Sybil F. Partridge. I am grateful to the reader for pointing this out.]
Just for Today:
1. Just for today I will be happy. This assumes that what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.
2. Just for today, I will try to adjust myself to what is and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.
3. Just for today I will take care of my body, I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse it nor neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.
4. Just for today, I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
5. Just for today, I will exercise my soul in three ways. I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do, as William James suggests, just for exercise.
6. Just for today, I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor find fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.
7. Just for today, I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.
8. Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests; hurry and indecision.
9. Just for today, I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax. In this half-hour sometimes I will think of God so as to get a little more perspective into my life.
10. Just for today, I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love and to believe that those I love, love me.
I’ve had, since Sunday, what appeared to be a broken toe. No flashy injury – just something that seemed to progress in level of pain each day that I, as the typical man in charge of my own destiny (translation: too stubborn to go into a hospital unless carried in) firmly resolved to work through. I mentioned to my wife the other day that the lowly toe is not even something you pay attention to or are necessarily aware of the importance of until you have a situation where you can’t walk on it – then you notice that it’s there and it’s important.
After I made that observation, it got me to thinking about a lot of other things that are important but go unnoticed in our daily high-speed lives. Things like:
1. the amazing amount of knowledge and learning that surround us in unlimited quantity, but for which we never quite seem to find the time to absorb
2. opportunities to help those around us in need every day
3. reasons to be grateful for everything we have, no matter how small
4. friends who seem to call at the right time to see how we are doing and how much we should really appreciate them
5. children who can erase a challenging day when you return home with a simple “Daddy’s (or Mommy’s) home”, followed by a big hug
6. friends who offer timely advice just when you need to hear it, such as when one member of this list sent me a powerful email the other day contrasting “living to work” versus “working to live”
7. spiritual guidance, for those who seek spiritual influence in their lives
8. the notion of how really miraculous every breath is that each of us takes or the miracle of each beat of our heart (our heart, on average beats almost 104,000 beats a day – that’s 37,960,000 beats a year and 2,733,120,000 beats in an average 72 year life span – try buying a mechanical device that can deliver that!)
9. the miracle of every interaction between two people, whether face to face or using technology of some kind – and whether you are agreeing or fight vehemently
10. the amazing organized chaos that is our universe, which, when you look at the seeming chaos that it appears to be, is actually a VERY finely tuned machine. Take a moment when you have a chance, plop yourself down in the middle of a place filled with activity and observe the organization that underlies the seeming randomness
11. the notion that if our work were simple, we should be paid much less, so difficult work is something to be grateful for
12. the wonder of our respective lineages and cultures and the wonderful insight that this brings to our perception of ourselves and our world.
There is a great book written by Gerald Weinberg titled “Are Your Lights On”. The title originates from a story in Europe where tunnel engineers wanted to erect a sign for drivers as they exited a tunnel, reminding them that their headlights were still on. They tried various combinations of signs that in essence read “If your lights are on and you didn’t want them on, turn them off – if your lights are on and you wanted them on, leave them on” etc. The challenge was that people were driving off the road reading the complex sign. In the end, the engineers realized that to help people solve problems, you don’t tell them what to do – you just remind them of the problem and they can solve it for themselves, hence the sign reading “Are your lights on?”.
So my thought for you today is “Are your lights on?”. Are you taking the time to understand what is really important?
As for my lowly toe, I just checked out of the hospital. It turns out that my kidneys were malfunctioning and the symptoms were manifesting in my feet of all places. So my lowly toe brought a potentially very serious condition to light that is treatable because it was found early.
Little things and things of seeming unimportance in your life are very important – please be alert to all of them.
Take care and be well.
Good day, everyone.
I wanted to share an interesting note from Michael Josephson, someone who has dedicated much of his life to building character in others (http://www.charactercounts.org/). The bold emphasis was mine, highlighting an interesting point.
Take care and create a great weekend!
Two Kinds of Legacy
When you die, your possessions will be distributed according to a will in which you allocated property to specific people. Objects left in a will are called a legacy.
But legacy also has a much deeper meaning.
In Jewish tradition, people write "ethical wills" in which they pass on to the next generation, especially their children, the gift of wisdom and good wishes. This bestowal is far more profound and permanent than bequests of property.
An ethical will is often a personal letter to the most important people in our lives. It conveys our values, convictions, and hopes. It is also an autobiography -- not of events and dates, but of the insights and intuitions that define who we are and tell the world what we stand for and what we think is important.
These documents provide a priceless and prized source of loving advice and can become treasured family heirlooms. Because they are about ethics, they also can become a moral compass that helps loved ones navigate their way to worthy and happy lives.
Yet no matter how highly cherished these letters can be for those who receive them, the process of writing them can change your perspective and cause you to readjust your own priorities.
What would you put in your ethical will? When you can, begin writing down everything you might want to pass on to the people you love. But know this: Once you start, it will be hard to stop as you’ll experience a surge of thoughts that will engulf you with all the subconscious beliefs that make you who you are and what you will be.
According to Socrates, the touchstone of wisdom is to first know thyself. Try it, and you’ll see why.