Friday, February 8, 2008

Customer service - doing the right thing

Good day,

I was recently traveling and bad weather had surrounded some of the destination airports, causing many flights to get canceled or delayed. I was sitting by the gate, having changed my flight to another one already and was watching the unfortunate airline rep at the gate counter. She was being bombarded by a number of people who seemed to assume that the poor weather, flight cancellations and everything else causing them grief was her fault and each one in turn laid all of their grief on her and I could see she was being pushed to the brink.

A little ah-ha light bulb flashed in my mind and since I am apt to follow my instinct, I stood up and took my place in the line of people intent on sharing their bad day with her. I patiently waited my turn and when I was finally standing in front of her, her weary eyes looked up to me, her forehead creased with stress and she asked "May I help you, sir?"

I said "Yes you can". I then asked her to act busy while I spoke to her. I told her I stood in line to give her a 5 minute break. While she typed (I have no idea what she typed), I explained to her that while all of these people were intent on ruining her day, the fact that she had other people in her life that really cared about her and that she had passions in her life that gave her life meaning was far more important than what was happening here today. Given all of that, the stuff happening here wasn't important and shouldn't stress her out. We chatted back and forth for a few minutes as she continued to look busy.

After seeing her regain her composure, I knew she had to get back to her work and I wished her a great day, telling her it was time for the next customer. She looked up at me and I could see that her eyes were slightly welling up. "Thank you so much", she said, "I don't know how to thank you for this".

I smiled and told her the best way to thank me was to pass on the kindness to someone else when she had the opportunity.

Have a great day.


Nobody should be left out

Good day,

I am attaching an essay that was written by Stephen Pond, a 5th grader in Conception Bay South, in Newfoundland, Canada. I had the opportunity to meet Stephen and his parents and I enclose his essay here as an example of the thoughts of a member of tomorrow's leadership community. This essay was written as part of his class Language Arts Program and was written by Stephen in class with no help from his parents.

When I spoke to Stephen's mom to get permission to share his essay, she shared another story with me that demonstrates his candidacy as a leader of tomorrow. Last year during his school's annual sports day, there was a student there with Down's Syndrome who was publically announcing his intention of winning a gold medal in an event. Given the number of strong athletes in the event, this child's ability to manifest a gold medal seemed slim at the time.

Stephen won a gold medal in one of the events and without prompting, proceeded to find the child with Down's Syndrome and put the gold medal on him, congratulating him on having won his gold medal.

Someone who recognizes the character of others and rewards them with intent to build up their spirits for future success is a leader in my book.

His essay verbatim follows.


Title: Nobody Should Be Left Out

Hello, my name is Stephen Pond and my topic is "Nobody Should Be Left Out". Have you ever been left out? Did you enjoy it? I will be discussing such topics as:

• We are all the same
• Everyone has emotions
• Don't judge people before you get to know them
• People today are too self-absorbed and death is caused because people are left out

My first reason is that we're all the same. Even though we may look different doesn't mean we're not all the same and we should realize that. Mostly bullies would do these things but now I notice that all people are making fun of others because they have big ears or wear glasses. They also make fun of what kids wear like if they wear tight jeans or tuck in their shirt. I think this should stop and we should treat people equally.

My second reason is that everyone has emotions and lots of times the kids who have been left out has sorrowful emotions. For example, if a group of people are playing street hockey and they don't let you because they say there are too many people but they take turns and they still don't let you play. I think that is very selfish and instead of letting someone play they don't which makes them sad and won't enjoy their lives.

My third reason is that you should not judge someone before you even get to know them. This is a big reason why kids are left out. For example, a new kid comes to school and a group of kids look at him and they say "oh he wears glasses" and then they don't let him join in for sports or group activities. Imagine how that kid felt his first day of school and no one even talked to him.

My fourth reason is that people are too self-absorbed like instead of letting someone use your toy, you hog it yourself. Another example is instead of letting someone play with you and take turns, you just play without them. That is what being self-absorbed is - when you don't care about anyone else and think you're the most important. But that person who has been left out could be really nice and you could have become real good friends with him or her.

My last reason is that death is caused because people are left out. People become so infuriated with themselves that when they're left out, they feel that they're not as good as us and they think there's no point to life and eventually they get so fed up with life that they hang themselves. Every year, hundreds of kids die because they are left out.

All over the world, kids are being left out and something should be done. Some ways to keep people from being left out are:

• If someone is being left out of a game, tell them they could play with you
• If you're being made fun of, tell the people who are making of you to stop
• If they don't, tell a teacher or a trusted adult and they will deal with it
• Put yourself in their shoes, imagine how they feel.

We should all pitch in and make sure no one is left out. That is my Persuasive Essay. Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoy it.


From the mind of a 10 year old to those of us who have experienced considerably more. There are lessons here even for those of us for whom the age of 10 is a very distant memory.

Take care and create a great day!


Just when you are ready to quit

I was reading some people's stories of faith and pushing forward some time back when the following story came to mind, quoting from Charles Swindoll's "Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life".

---- Quote ----

I fear our generation has come dangerously near the "I'm-getting-tired-so-let's-quit-mentality". And not just in the spiritual realm. Dieting is a discipline, so we stay fat. Finishing school is a hassle, so we bail out. Cultivating a close relationship is painful, so we back off. Getting a book written is demanding, so we stop short. Working through conflicts in marriage is a tiring struggle, so we walk away. Sticking with an occupation is tough, so we start looking elsewhere ....

Ignace Jan Paderewski, the famous composer pianist, was scheduled to perform at a great concert hall in America. It was an evening to remember - black tuxedoes and long evening dresses, a high-society extravaganza. Present in the audience that evening was a mother with her fidgety nine-year old son. Weary of waiting, he squirmed constantly in his seat. His mother was in hopes that her boy would be encouraged to practice the piano if he could just hear the immortal Paderewski at the keyboard. So, against his wishes, he had come.

As she turned to talk with her friends, her son could stay seated no longer. He slipped away from her side, strangely drawn to the ebony concert-grand Steinway and its leather-tufted stool, staring wide-eyed at the black and white keys. He placed his small trembling fingers in the right location and began to play "chopsticks". The roar of the crowd was hushed as hundreds of frowning faces turned in his direction. Irritated and embarrassed, they began to shout:

"Get that boy away from there!"
"Who'd bring a kid that young in here?"
"Where's his mother?"
"Somebody stop him."

Backstage, the master overheard the sounds out front and quickly put together in his mind what was happening. Hurriedly, he grabbed his coat and rushed toward the stage. Without one word of announcement, he stooped over behind the boy, reached around both sides and began to improvise a counter melody to harmonize and enhance "chopsticks". As the two of them played together, Paderewski kept whispering in the boy's ear:

"Keep going. Don't quit, son. Keep on playing. Don't stop. Don't quit."

And so it is with us. We hammer away on our project which seems about as significant as "chopsticks" in a concert hall. And about the time we are ready to give up, along comes a master, who leans over and whispers:

"Now keep going. Don't quit. Don't stop. Don't quit".

---- unquote ----

I suspect for many of us, as we drive our projects we sometimes feel like this - that we are so close to something that we can almost taste it. However, for one reason or another, whether it's because your project has taken too much time, energy or money up to now, or whether you face derision, lack of support or a cacophony of negativity from those around you or perhaps you are thinking that maybe the world doesn't need you and your little project, you decide to give up on your project, your passion and in some ways, a piece of you.

I believe that the “master" as described in this story is closer than you think, that one person who can make a difference, that one person who can pick up your hopes and that one person who can stoke your passion from embers back into a burning desire to see your project through to fruition beyond your wildest dreams.

The "master" may or may not be a person. Maybe the master comes in the form of a good friend or family member. Maybe it comes in the form of a serendipitous event in your life, one that comes out of nowhere but gives you the strength or enlightenment to get back on course. It may come in the form of a chance encounter with a stranger, whose actions or words change your way of thinking. Maybe you are the master who takes stock of the incredible miracle that you are, causing you to realize that you WILL push this through to the end. For some of you, the master may manifest in a spiritual form or belief.

Whoever / whatever form the master takes for you, keep in mind that when you are feeling like it is time to quit, please stop and be aware of what is swirling around you. A helping hand is closer than you think. Look for it, be open to it and embrace it when it arrives and listen to the "master" when it whispers in your ear:

"Now keep going. Don't quit. Don't stop. Don't quit".

Take care and be well. Thank you all for being the miracles that you are.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

A sense of urgency

I’ve been preoccupied with a sense of urgency lately. Maybe preoccupied is the wrong word. Perhaps consumed is a better way of describing the sense of urgency I have been experiencing.

Now let’s be clear. I am not saying that we need to be so caught up in driving ourselves at 150% that we experience great results for a short period, only to experience the inevitable energy depletion that occurs after time of peak exertion has passed. It’s not about living a life in a panic – it’s about living a life with the right priorities in front of us. Stephen Covey refers to it as Q II or Quadrant II living. Those who would have you believe that they deliver consistent results while pushing themselves at superhuman speeds are deceiving you, themselves and everyone else.

I’m talking about the times we recognize the need to do something that we know is important and we put it off until later. I’m thinking of times when Life lays a tremendous opportunity before us and we get excited about it and then we put it on a shelf, succumbing to the demands of others who are expressing their own sense of urgency and using us to fulfill it. I’m thinking of when client opportunities are abundant but we choose to ignore them in the hopes that something better will manifest, only to end up with nothing when the “hoped for” opportunity doesn’t solidify and the “sure items” disappear in a cloud of client disappointment or frustration when we choose not to execute because we were focused on something else.

Where is the sense of urgency in the corporate world, with so many opportunities sliding by because we couldn’t get a simple piece of paper signed, or someone could have helped someone else close a deal but chose not to, saying “there’s nothing in it for me” or “I’ve made my quota – you go make yours”. How about when asking a difficult question could produce a great result, but our sense of urgency can’t overcome our fear of asking the question, so the question goes unasked?

How about all the folks in the world who are waiting for their passion to be ignited or their passion to be fulfilled – waiting for the right moment that never comes because the sense of urgency is not strong enough to break the inertia of comfort, leaving them in a maelstrom of frustration or depression as they passively wait for the moment when they feel appreciated and satisfied.

The same could be said when great energy is raised at an empowering event but for which no follow up occurs or it doesn’t occur in a timely fashion. The sense of urgency regarding transforming that energy into positive action items doesn’t appear to exist and the energy dissipates.

How about a sense of urgency when it comes to our health? Sure, we can go ahead and eat that extra hamburger or other indulgence once in a while, but at what point do we lose the sense of urgency about our health and decide that we can always start being healthier tomorrow, and then the day after?

Where is our sense of urgency when it comes to our relationships? How many times do we do or say something to loved ones, children or life partners without understanding that this might be the last time we will ever communicate? We’ve all heard or experienced stories about people who wished they could take a moment or a harsh word back but lost the opportunity when someone’s life came to and end earlier than expected. Perhaps if we had a greater sense of urgency about living and thought about our actions before such things happen, then we would have fewer opportunities for regret later.

We all have a sense of urgency when it comes to getting our taxes done on time, when it comes to making sure we pick up the latest gadget or not disappointing someone else. We have all witnessed the sense of urgency when someone is praying for someone in need but we rarely see the same person pray with the same sense of urgency in gratitude just because things are going well. Imagine the power that we could derive from making sure that we apply the same heightened sense of urgency when it comes to investing in ourselves on a day to day basis.

We’ve all heard the old adage “live every day as if it were your last” but how many of us really do it? I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to “I’ll worry about that tomorrow”. While it is possible that we can’t live every day as if it were our last (despite our best hopes and intentions) have you ever tried it for one day? It is a very interesting exercise.

Here is an interesting experiment that I encourage you to try. Pick a day for this event – don’t schedule a day that is deliberately easy or absent of things to do because that takes the learning opportunity out of it. Try picking a day that is action packed with stuff that you consider “important”.

Now ask yourself this question. Given all of the things you see before you and given that today is your last day on this earth, what do you need to put in order before you die? This can’t be an academic exercise – you must FEEL this in order for the exercise to be effective. Feel as well that you have been given a gift of unlimited power to achieve that which you choose to achieve and that whatever you decide you will do today, you will achieve it. If you can’t feel it, I would posit that you are allowing the world to tell you what is important to you rather than you discovering what is important for you.

Let your mind flow over and around the possibilities. We might reach out to so and so and tell them “I love you”. Maybe we would reach out to a friend whose conversations, once treasured, have ceased because of a harsh word long since forgotten. Perhaps we can reach out to a work associate who has been struggling to make something happen and help them execute it. Maybe we would step away for ½ an hour and go to a place of comfort for us, whether a forest, a park, a beach, a bustling downtown or some other place of peace for us and just breathe and soak it up, contemplating our existence and asking the questions “Who am I”, “Why am I here”, “Where am I going”, and “What is my purpose”.

Perhaps we might consider that soup kitchen down the street that we have been promising ourselves for years that we will help out with, offering a word of encouragement to others who REALLY need it.

Maybe there is a business that we have dreamed about for years, always putting off starting it because we believed that we didn’t have the time, energy, money, brains, good looks, friends, business contacts, customers or whatever else we feel we are short of. If we were given the gift of it being successful just because we wished it, then we would go for it, wouldn’t we?

How about reaching out and doing something special and spontaneous for your loved ones. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – it is indeed the thought that counts.

The truth is that today may be your last day just as it may be mine. One of our fellow Personal Empowerment members recently had dramatic heart valve replacement surgery. Ask him how close we are to breathing our last.

It is also true that if we overcome our limited belief systems, then we are capable of achieving anything we wish. We do in fact have this unlimited power to achieve what we choose. However, we have been convinced by others that we either don’t have this power or it is foolish to believe such things or this power exists in limited amounts and the person exerting influence over you currently has the last vestiges of this energy.

To overcome the inertia that keeps us trapped in our comfort zone, or rather, keeps us trapped in someone else’s comfort zone requires a sense of urgency. If someone asked you to climb down a steep embankment for fun, you would tell them to take a hike. If you saw a young child hanging precariously over the same embankment, you would act without thinking and without consideration for yourself. It comes down to the sense of urgency that you feel within.

How strong is your sense of urgency? Do you even have one? Do you even care that the miracle of your life is moving by while your list of “I will be fulfilled when ….” grows longer. Perhaps you are one of the few who aspires for very little in life and you have everything you need. If you are one of those, you are lucky. However, most people aspire to leave a legacy, to follow their calling in order to satisfy their congruence of passion and intention.

What do you need to do today to increase your sense of urgency so that the miracle that is your life can be focused on making a difference? Find that which increases your sense of urgency, stoke up your passion, never accept the opinion of naysayers and start down the path that is your destiny. To not do so leads to frustration and is contrary to the miracles you were intended to achieve. Don’t rely on others to define your sense of urgency for you. You know what it is – act upon it and stop waiting. A life of incredible fulfillment awaits you.

Do you feel a sense of urgency to create miracles in your life and the lives of others?

If not: Why not?

If so: What are you doing to REALLY bring it to fruition? Planning to do this, intending to do that, etc. doesn’t count – what are you really doing right now?

To your success.