Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Overcoming your demons

Over the past few years, a number of people have shared with me the notion of the demons that hold them down. The demons vary in attribution - not enough money, not smart enough, not connected enough, etc. No matter how much I tell them that the demons can be overcome, I am told that I don't understand because my life has been so easy.

The demons also vary in intensity and combination but whatever they are, they combine to hold people back from realizing their dreams and their purpose.

I would like to share a story of someone who gave me permission to share his life story with you. I will give this person the name "Sam" for the purposes of this illustration and it is one of many examples of how people can overcome their demons.

Sam's conception was an accident. His parents lived in a small, poor rural community and Sam definitely wasn't planned. His parents made a commitment to stay together and make it work. They moved a couple of times before eventually settling down in another rural town to begin their life together. Money didn't come easily to this family but the family made do.

In the early years, Sam was a thin child, spending time here and there in the local hospital for unexplainable reasons. On more than one occasion in his life (in childhood and adulthood), Sam was believed to be dying for one reason or another. His soft bones broke easily as well and he had more than his share of broken bones. His liver and kidneys have been the impetus of more than one painful / stressful trip to the hospital for unexplainable reasons throughout his life and it has been suggested more than once that they are failing for unknown reasons. A healthy model of a human being was not an attribute of Sam.

His early home years were crowded. He lived in a very small house that was basically one room with a false wall and a couple of dividers to provide the semblance of rooms. The commode was a steel pail and running water was defined as running to the well to draw water from it.

His parents were loving but not always patient. This created a "need to please" within Sam that at times became crippling.

In a house that was smaller than 20ft by 20ft, he lived with then two siblings and his parents for the first seven and a half years of his life.

Throughout his school life in this rural town, he was often the victim of bullies. This bullying continued from grade one all the way to when he finished high school. It was something that he endured and something that took a fair amount of time to overcome when his school years ended. The impact of bullying cannot be underestimated. As he would tell you, if you feel your child is being bullied, do something about it now. He avoided many school activities throughout his school life so that he could avoid being the victim of the people who chose to belittle him because of their own pain. Such avoidance caused him to miss many opportunities for personal growth and fulfillment.

Twice in his young life, including one time on the eve of his first holy communion, pedophiles tried to share their own pain on him. Both times they were unsuccessful. However, in both situations, it caused Sam to wonder - why is this happening to him? Why does God allow this to happen to him? Maybe God doesn't even exist.

When he graduated high school, he was painfully shy, an introvert who was even picked on in college for being a combination of being intelligent and too shy.

Sam has had two mini-strokes, in 1983 and 1990. The diagnosis - unknown cause so don't worry about it. He never told his family - it seemed unnecessary.

Sam is also legally blind in one eye.

The combination of his life events and genetics left him awkward, physically small in stature, an introvert who was afraid to speak to people, a person who generally wasn't happy with himself for many reasons and because of his small stature, introversion, timidity and growing up in a family that was not wealthy, his future didn't look terribly bright.

When we see people like Sam, we may feel pity for him or wonder "Where will he end up, if anywhere at all". After all, he has been damaged beyond repair - why should anyone try to help Sam? He is probably not worth saving anyway - what difference can he make in the world with these circumstances? We are probably better off turning our back on Sam and writing him off as another lost human being.

Maybe we are like Sam, with a collection of demons similar to or different than Sam's and we use these demons to hold us back.

Let me tell you something else about Sam.

Sam's real name is Harry.

I am Sam.

When I look back on the life that I lived as a young person, I feel like I am looking at the life of a different person.

People who know me now see me as an extrovert who is as at ease in front of 15,000 people in an auditorium as he is in an intimate conversation in a coffee shop.

I have created successful companies in New York, one of the most challenging environments in North America to be successful in (especially for a small town boy).

The small, sickly, child now stands 6'3" and weighs in at 220 pounds.

I am blessed with many gifts, many opportunities, many great memories, an incredible business network, a great family, many great friends and a strong faith in God.

If you had looked at me 25+ years ago, you would not have predicted such a life for me. I know I wouldn't have.

There may be someone else that you would not predict such a life for.

Perhaps that person is you.

Perhaps you are Sam.

There is something that you need to tell the person who is like "Sam".

If they dig down deep inside, they can find the spirit that calls them to be something in life.

If they want it bad enough, it is theirs for the taking.

If their faith is strong, what they desire can become their ultimate purpose and destiny.

Their past is their past. What determines the results of the rest of their life rests on how they convert the gifts they have into actions to make a difference.

As Stephen Covey wrote, help "Sam" answer these 4 questions:

  • What are you good at? That’s your mind. (Intellectual Quotient)
  • What do you love doing? That’s your heart. (Emotional Quotient)
  • What need can you serve? That’s the body. (Physical Quotient)
  • What is life asking of you? What gives your life meaning and purpose? What do you feel like you should be doing? In short, what is your conscience directing you to do? That is your spirit. (Spiritual Quotient)

We motivate ourselves, according to Dr. Covey, with the law of the 4 L's - to live, to love, to learn and to leave a legacy.

Seek how the answers to the 4 questions overlap the 4 L's and the resulting picture will become the purpose of "Sam's" life - or yours.

No demons in your life will be strong enough to prevent you from achieving your purpose at that point.

Demons hold no power in your life. No matter what demons you have, you can find someone who has overcome the same demon.

What does this tell you? That demons are merely those things which are meant to provide you with an opportunity to gain knowledge and strength and having gained them, provide a means of using them to find your purpose and to leave a legacy.

In service and servanthood.


PS   By popular request, I am sharing a photo of the house I referred to in the article.  Maybe it was 10x20 and not 20x20.  That's me and my Dad in the photo.

First house

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wanted to give to a good home - love

A group of us are in the process of putting the finishing touches on a Christmas-sharing project whereby we collect gifts for battered mothers and their children and donate them to a local women's center.  This center provides them to the mother who wraps the gifts and presents them to her children on Christmas Day.  We never meet the mothers or their children.  For their security and safety, their identities are obscured from us.

As we work through the logistics of organizing our piece of the drive again this year, I am struck by the phenomenal generosity of people even in these alleged times of "gloom, doom and despair".  The number of families and individuals that we will touch this year is triple that of last year's result.

Maybe this "giving to a good cause" is a simple manifestation of generosity. 


I think it is more than that.

I think it is love - pure, unadulterated, unselfish, no-strings-attached love. 

It is love for a fellow human being who has been through the wringer of life and needs a little help.

It is love for someone who is down on their luck and needs a helping hand to get back on their feet. 

It is love for someone who needs to know that someone out there cares for them. 

It is love for a child that we may never meet, who will grow up and express their love in their generosity to others.

It is love that, once planted, nurtured and growing in someone who needs it, will ultimately be passed on to someone else at some point.

My oldest son said something today that ordinarily would have been shrugged off as a funny comment but today had some poignancy to it.

He said that my ability and strong desire to navigate through humanity and network like crazy creeps him out.  After all, my LinkedIn network alone has 11 million people in it.  I laughed and said that it was my job to network with people, to increase the potential for success in the different projects that I am engaged in.

In thinking about this later and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude to all the wonderful people engaged in our projects (and for all the people engaged in similar projects), I got to thinking.

Maybe I justify being a consummate networker (I am called "the Link" in New York City) by saying I need to network in order to maximize the potential for success in my projects.

Maybe, just maybe, I am a consummate networker because it provides me with the honor and privilege of connecting with wonderful, generous, unselfish people in the world, giving them another outlet to express their gratitude and their love for others.


I do know this.  I have a reputation in New York City as being "the tough guy who gets stuff done with singular, maniacal focus".  So if my real purpose is to network so that we can create more opportunities for sharing and expressing our love for others, then we will have to keep my real purpose a secret. 

Just between you and I.

Yours in service and servanthood.


Monday, November 17, 2008

People I am Grateful For - The Nominees Are

Some time ago, my friend Tim Sanders, author of incredible books such as "Love is the Killer App", "The Likeability Factor" and his current phenomenal book "Saving the World at Work - What Companies and Individuals Can Do to Go Beyond Making a Profit to Making a Difference" suggested an idea that I still practice although today I intend to practice it in a different way.  On a side note, I will be blogging about Tim's books shortly, including his most recent one.

Tim suggested that every Monday, we brighten the days of three people by reaching out to them and expressing thanks for who they are and the difference they have made.

While I do this every Monday, I thought I would do it publicly today to encourage others to do the same.

As many of you know, I am eternally grateful for every experience in my Life (good and bad) and for every person who has played a role in my Life, whether it is a role of some measurable duration or the passing stranger who gave me a smile that brightened my day just when I needed it.

For all of you who are reading this, I thank you for providing the vivid color in the rich tapestry of Life that I am experiencing.  For my family, I am ALWAYS grateful to be so blessed.  I also thank God for providing me with the opportunity to learn and experience Life on an incredible level.

I am surrounded by incredible people who live to give, to provide to others who may not have the strength or the ability to provide for themselves.

So I am going to pick three of them right now and publicly thank them for their service and their friendship.  If you are not one of the three today, don't worry.  You have a place in my heart and there's lots of time to be promoted.  :-)

So in no particular order, the nominees are:

John Clause - Vice President of Development - World Vision (US)

I know this bio is slightly dated, but from the World Vision website:

John Clause is the Senior Director of the New York office (editor note: now VP of Development - Eastern Region) of World Vision. John oversees development, church relationships, and strategic programs in the New York City area, including World Vision's response to the September 11th disaster. John first joined World Vision in February 1997 as Director of Development for the Greater New York area, and served as Northeast US Development Manager from 1998-2001.

I know John personally as an incredible friend, as a man with a faith deeply rooted in God and a man called to serve humanity in any way he can.  He is an incredible model human being who gives selflessly around the clock.

Thank you, John, for your friendship and for your dedication to others.

If I may put in a shameless plug on John's behalf, there are great opportunities to make a difference in the life of a child this Christmas.  Check out the World Vision website to see how you can make a difference.

Jim Loscheider - Vice President of Donor Ministries - Samaritan's Purse

Samaritan's Purse is committed to making a difference in the lives of children all around the world.  Many of you participate in a program at this time of year known as Operation Christmas Child or as some call it, "the Christmas shoe box program".

Like John, Jim has dedicated his life to making a difference in the lives of children who are suffering from disease, neglect, malnutrition and disease.  He is an incredible friend with an incredible heart.  His deep faith calls him to serve others and he does with joy and gratitude.

His passion to make a difference and his sense of humility make him someone worth modeling.

I'd like to put a shameless plug in for his organization as well.  Christmas is a great time to make a difference in the lives of children around the world.  Check out the Samaritan's Purse website to see how you as an individual or as a group of friends can make a difference in the lives of children all around the world.

Charmaine Davidge and team - St. John's Status of Women Council and Women's Centre

The St. John's Status of Women Council and Women's Centre (SJSWC) is committed to helping women who are often the silent victims in today's society.  They support women and their children who have been the victims of abuse, battery and abandonment.  They help these women rediscover their sense of purpose and self-worth and provide assistance in finding the help they need to get back on their feet.

Female abuse is far more prevalent in western society than it should be and more than we care to admit.  Someone we know and love may be the victim of such abuse right now and we may not be aware of it.  Groups like the SJSWC are a voice for women and a pillar of strength for women who need help.

Charmaine and her team see things every day that would stagger us and yet their commitment and love for the women they serve keeps them moving forward.  They are model human beings who embrace the pain of others so that the pain may be eased - we should follow their model.

I'm sure each of you has a local women's shelter or center that would really appreciate your support and help this Christmas.  Help those who think they have been forgotten or are no longer loved and reach out to a center this Christmas.  Your heart will be glad that you did.

To John, Jim and Charmaine, I thank you for your friendship, your dedication and your unselfish service to others. 

We can learn much from your service.

In service and servanthood.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Keep Pushing Forward

The news these days seems pretty rough. The number of layoffs continue to rise. The stock market gains a trillion dollars one day and then loses it the next. People praise President-elect Obama one day as a sign of hope and then disregard him the next as having too much on his plate, therefore assuming he will fail. Hundreds of billions are being spent to save companies that made handsome profits for many years. We keep hearing that global warming is reaching a point of no-return (any minute now, according to some sources - I hope you didn't make plans for Saturday).

Some of the bad news even seems circular in reference. According to one media source I watched last night, large companies are citing lack of consumer confidence as the reason they are laying off large numbers of people. The same media source later said that citizens are citing the large layoffs as one of the main reasons they are losing confidence in the economy. This is a chicken and egg game with profound implications on the earth. The media's amazing talent at magnifying the downside of things is entrenching this even more.

Sounds like we're on our way to hell in a hand basket, as the expression goes.

I guess we might as well lay down, cover our heads and wait for the end to come.

Let's forget about our the future of the next generation - there's nothing worth saving for them anyway.

Our dreams and aspirations are pretty stupid too, aren't they? What a waste of time they are. How could we have been so foolish as to believe we could have accomplished anything at all?

All of those great intentions we had - woulda coulda shoulda as we say in New York. It was just as well that we didn't follow up on them. They were the silly follies of dreamers and infinite optimists.

In fact we've wasted our whole life doing stupid things and now it's too late to change anything. When we ask people around us, they agree with us so it must be true.

Why even bother anymore?

In fact, let's take it a step further.

Let's tell our kids that optimism and hope are a waste of time. Let's tell them to abandon their dreams.

Encourage them to focus on the mass media, to allow the life essence of hope to drain out of them.

If we all work together starting right now, we can finally iron out of everyone, the silly idea of a life of beauty, love and empowerment.

Stop for just a moment - let that sink in. Let's embrace and savor the feeling of despair and hopelessness together. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm - feels good, doesn't it?

Are you angry with me yet? Do you feel the energy rising in you to reject what I am telling you? Do you want to tell me how wrong I am when it comes to your life?

GOOD - now you have some energy flowing - let's talk!

My dear friend, Roberto Luberti, always interjected discussions that were "stuck" with what became know as "the famous but". When he saw people trying to sort things out, he would say "I agree with this, this and this but" and after the "but" would come the reasoning that guided us out of the morass we were in.

So, in honor of my friend, here's the famous but to the negativity I just placed before you.

When we hear these messages as I expressed above, whether from the mass media, associates, family, friends or whomever, take a stand and refute them with all of your energy. Resist them with more energy than they are being pushed upon you in the first place.

If you don't, your mind turns to mush and you actually begin to believe these thoughts of hopelessness for our future. You become one of a growing group of people who are totally lost, blowing in the wind and living a life without purpose. You will manifest these messages in your life because you chose to, not because you had to.

Fight this negative energy with all of your being.

Dare to stand up and say "You are wrong. Where you see despair, I see hope. Where you see failure, I see opportunity. Where you see hopelessness, I see hope."

Don't wait for others to create opportunity for you. Many of the people you are waiting on are the ones whose minds have become laden with despair, sadness, gloom and doom. They are filled with angst and feel most comfortable when they have company to make them feel better as they go down with the ship.

So turn off the mass media that sells the gloom and doom message. Tell people who want to share this with you that you only want to hear news of opportunity - you are now a "no complaint zone". "Bring me opportunity and solutions", you say.

Look at the world for what it is - a smorgasbord of opportunity in unlimited areas. You can be a billionaire basket weaver tomorrow if you take the time to find out what baskets people like and how to make, promote and distribute them as efficiently as possible.

Look at Life for what it is - an incredible miracle which we are all blessed to experience. Struggle strengthens us. It reminds us of our weaknesses and where we need to grow as individuals. It highlights things all around us that need to be improved or enhanced. Struggle and pain are our call to action to make a difference - not a signal to give up. History teaches us that we human beings are at our best when our backs are against the wall.

We are incredible miracles, filled with unlimited potential to have a profound impact on the world. Each of us has a gift that no other has and each of us can do at least one thing better than ANYONE else in the world.

Find that one thing, embrace it, nurture it, be proud of it and then use it to make a difference. Make it your purpose for being and change the world with it.

Others will look at you and say "I want to do what you do - I want to have the fire and passion that you have - how do I do it". Take the time to light the flame of passion in the spirit of that person and then keep moving. They will do the same for others when the opportunity arises.

Momentum, positive and negative, are within your grasp to generate in infinite levels.

What world do you want to live in? It's your choice - not someone else's.

Time is important. Every day you don't do this is another day you missed to manifest miracles.

I salute you and offer this toast to you.

To your purpose in changing the world and manifesting the incredible potential that you have. Don't take "no" for an answer, when you fall, stand up and keep moving forward, keep your eye on your purpose and surround yourself with others who feel the same way with the same level of passion.

What are you waiting for?

Yours in service and servanthood.


PS Pretty soon, I will be working with a group of people to conduct an experiment around helping people engage in a life of purpose and passion. We will be working through this experiment in the public domain and sharing the process to help others understand how to find their sense of purpose. I will let you know shortly where you can find this and how you can participate.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest We Forget

As I stood at a memorial service today for those who have served to protect our freedom, the skies suddenly opened up and near-torrential rains fell.  A cool wind whipped up as well and many people began to leave while the service continued.

As this happened, a thought crossed my mind.  The brave men and women whom we honor today put their life on the line (and many of them paid the ultimate sacrifice) suffering biting cold that went right through their meager clothing, rain that would saturate and ravage their spirit, disease and vermin that drew the life essence from their body, violence the likes that we could never imagine and hunger and thirst.  Somewhere mixed in all this, they witness miracles of bravery, love, humor and camaraderie.  The highs and lows could tear apart the minds of the average human being. 

The people who have served and who serve are not average human beings.

They serve for their family.

They serve because they are proud citizens.

They serve because they feel compelled to.

They serve so that others may enjoy a life of abundance and freedom.

They serve by choice.

They serve for the sake of complete strangers.

They serve for you and I, whether we are of the same generation or subsequent generations.

As people left the service early, I wondered how grateful we really are and how consistent and deep our gratitude runs.

Those who serve endure incredible hardship so that we may partake in the things that somehow we feel we have earned.

The truth is, we haven't really earned it.  They earned it for us, giving us the ultimate gift of love and sacrifice so that we may live a life of opportunity, hope, love and freedom.

As the rain fell upon us today, I couldn't help but think:

Perhaps the rain are the tears of God, lamenting over how we human beings, with all of our unlimited potential, still don't embrace with gratitude, the incredible gifts we have been given.

I once read a story of Rabbi Baal Shem-Tov, the founder of the modern Hasidic movement, who was overlooking his hometown with his students when the town was attacked by a group of Cossacks.  As the rabbi and his students watched, men, women and children in their town were slaughtered.  Looking up to the sky, the rabbi said "If only I were God".

One of his students asked "Master, if you were God, what would you do differently?".

Looking at his student, the rabbi replied "If I were God, I would do nothing differently.  If I were God, I would understand.".

Thank a veteran today for all that you have.  Who knows where our lives would be today without their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families?

In service and servanthood.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

When Your Mind is Stuck ....

.... and you can't move forward or backward, what do you do?

I was reading a chapter of Devotional Classics the other day that seemed to profoundly capture the essence of the challenge that many people today seem mired in.

That challenge is:

I don't like who / where I am and I know I need to change but I seem unable to change my life.

I'd like to share an excerpt from that chapter in Devotional Classics, with the hope that it will encourage you to get "unstuck" from that which has ensnared you in your life.  The book is also highly recommended for those of you on a spiritual or philosophical journey.

The chapter summarizes St. Augustine's autobiography entitled Confessions.  St. Augustine lived from 354 to 430 AD and often struggled with the reasons why he was prevented from improving his lot in life, despite his acknowledgement that his life was stuck in a place that was totally unacceptable to him and he knew he should be capable of better.

The key points of the summary are worth reviewing from our own perspective of how well our lives are executed and how happy we are with the result.  How many of the following thoughts resonate with you?

1. Why is my mind a house divided?

When the mind commands a body part to move, accepting that the body is healthy, the body part moves.  Why then, is the will not honored when the brain chooses to take a particular action to produce a different result in Life? 

Since they should be one and the same (the mind and the will), one would think that moving a body part or changing an action or habit could be done with equal ease.

However, the fact that they are not equal in execution suggests that the mind's command of the will is not as deeply rooted as the command of the body and thus the will is not totally "bought in".  Why is this the case?

2. My mind is weighed down by habit

We are weighed down by so many bad habits and the "luggage of life" that it is easier to fall back on old, bad habits rather than do what we are trying to will ourselves to do.  If we were truly totally committed, we wouldn't need to be willing ourselves in the first place (since we would already be in a place of power).  Why is it so difficult to change bad habits?

3. I am torn by conflicting wills

We are torn between:

  • that which is easy or hard
  • that which is fun or challenging
  • that which is quick to provide results versus needing time to manifest
  • that which satisfies us versus that which pleases others or
  • that which produces something that satisfies the senses now versus something that bears fruit later. 

We often choose the easy, fast, more fun or more immediately satisfying choice, thus missing the opportunity for true life transformation.  What is the impact of such inner conflict?

4. The full force of my will never comes to bear

We struggle to make change in our lives because our mind is only "half in it", even though we claim or believe that we are totally committed to success.  While we know that we need to make particular choices in our life, we do not because of the previously noted points.  If the brain is divided because of habits or it is torn between immediate versus long term results, then the brain is not fully available and committed to transformation, providing minimal opportunity for such transformation to take place.  A half-engaged brain can take us very close to success but then what happens?

5. I am teetering on the cusp of success

Many times we hear of people who sabotaged themselves on the cusp of success.  It was because they finally brought themselves to a place of potential success but they could not bear to make the final decisions or take the final actions necessary to seal the transformational process.  Since the will was never fully engaged, the engaged part carried them close to the "goal line of victory" but the disengaged part of the brain eventually caught up and tackled the engaged portion to the ground.  This leaves people in a sense of limbo - they've come too far to go back but previous fears and habits are preventing them from getting up and pushing forward.  How did the old habits catch up and derail us from transformation?

6. I have too much brain chatter resulting in indecision

We've all heard of analysis paralysis, the need to overanalyze something (or everything for some people).  Many times people get into this mode because they fear making a decision (probably because they fear failure, fear what others think, etc).  See my blog entry here regarding why people are afraid to make decisions.

However, failing to choose will almost assuredly result in failure anyway.  The voices in our mind that tell us to dwell on the poor results of the past or the failure that will result in your future need to be stilled.  We need to encourage the voices of success to loudly trumpet the great results we are capable of.  If the voice of success, optimism and transformation are not encouraged, where will this leave you?

7. I am so close I can almost taste it, but ....

Similar to teetering on the cusp of success, victory is almost in your grasp.  However, there are voices inside your head, chastising you for taking so long to reach this point or telling you not to bother because failure is inevitable.  You know you should push through to the end but you cannot for some reason.  The weight of the journey has tired you but the weight of potential failure is crushing you.  Many people who fail, fail at this point.  However, given that you are this close to success, you have only one real question remaining.

8. What am I waiting for?

This led to St. Augustine's great question (great in my opinion):

Why not now?

How often do we keep saying some variation of:

  • "next week I will definitely do this"
  • "tomorrow is a brand new day, I will do better"
  • "I'll start with a clean slate and try again"
  • "just one more self improvement book and I am all set to go - things will be difference after book #150".   :-)

All of these excuses add up to the same thing:

Another opportunity for transformation has passed me by.


He / she stole my idea - I could have done that


I should have taken it when I had the chance - now I have regret that I didn't.

The authors of Devotional Classics suggest a great exercise that while simple, has the opportunity to be profound if repeated in frequency and scale.  I have revised the exercise as follows.

Resolve this week to bring one bad habit to an end.  By the end of the week, take steps to overcome one bad habit (no matter how small).

In addition, identify one good habit that would be powerful for you to have in your arsenal and begin executing this good habit when opportunity permits.

I would add to this, recalling something that Rick Warren once said.

It takes approximately 42 days for a habit to become programmed or unprogrammed in the brain so that it becomes second nature.

So once you have started to overcome a bad habit or program a good habit, be aware that for a while, such actions will feel foreign or may take some effort.

Do not become discouraged.  It will take time for bad habits to disappear and good habits to become entrenched in your psyche.  This is an investment in your life.  Given that you have 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60+ years of life remaining, spending this time reprogramming yourself is worth the effort.

Give this a try, starting small and being gentle and forgiving with yourself if you slip and fall into old practices.  With time and diligence, you will start manifesting a life of greater purpose.

Five books I recommend to help you with this process (of the many I could recommend) are:

Success Built to Last by Stewary Emory et al.

Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham

Know Can Do by Ken Blanchard

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Goals! How to Get Everything .... by Brian Tracy

The truth is that there are a LOT of great books out there.  However, the more time you spend reading "just one more book", the  more you realize you are justifying not making the decisions that can profoundly impact your life in a positive way.

You are a living miracle - live up to the obligation this brings.

Yours in service and servanthood.


Tribute to a Mentor

My mind has been quite full these days with a number of things:

  • Gratitude for my wonderful family
  • Gratitude for an incredible number of life experiences that I wouldn't trade for anything (the good and the bad)
  • Gratitude for unlimited opportunities
  • Thoughts on making a difference in the world, in whatever way one human being can
  • Sorting through some extra "stuff" that I have allowed to enter my life.

As I was sorting through my mixed feelings of gratitude, problem solving and a little brain overload, a question came to mind:

What would Richard have done in this situation?

Richard Giordanella was someone whom I was blessed to meet in the late 90's when I was CTO of a software company I co-founded in NYC.  My business partner at the time brought Richard in to provide counsel and guidance to a bunch of us young guys from Wall Street.  Richard brought many years of business experience to the table, sharing with us the sound business practices and disciplines that we needed for success.

More than anything else, Richard brought his heart.  In the years that I knew him, whenever he applied his deep experience to a business problem, he always kept people first and foremost, making sure that everyone was aware that in the end, our decisions affected people (even ones we never met).

This is the power of a real mentor.  A real mentor is someone who not only provides guidance when needed (whether asked for or not), but leaves an indelible mark on the person he is mentoring and on those whom the mentored person impacts, profoundly changing others forever.

If you don't have a mentor, I would strongly recommend that you find one who gives as unselfishly as Richard did.  Find a mentor who gives without asking, a mentor who is committed to your personal and professional growth and one who changes your life forever.

Richard did that for me.

I last saw Richard in early winter of 2007 as he valiantly fought cancer.  I stopped by to visit him at his home on the Upper West Side of New York and arrived within minutes of him having been taken to New York Presbyterian.  I went to the hospital, spent some time with him where we shared a deep conversation about personal matters, upon which he assured me we would get together as soon as he got out.

I never saw my mentor and friend again as he succumbed to the disease a week later.

Now I sit here sorting through "stuff" and I wonder:

What would Richard say to me?

Richard would say:

With all the great experiences you have had, this "stuff" is easy.  Focus on what is important, ignore and discard the rest and keep those who are important close to your heart.

Thank you, Richard.  You are right.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. - Proverbs 18:24

May all of you who read my blog be so blessed with such an incredible friend and mentor.  If you don't have one, make it a priority to find one.

May you be equally blessed to be considered such a mentor by others.

Yours in service and servanthood.



PS   There is a Chris de Burgh song that always reminds me of Richard.  I enclose the lyrics here - it is a powerful song.

Snows of New York

I can see you now by the light of the dawn,
And the sun is rising slow,
We have talked all night, and I can't talk anymore,
But I must stay and you must go;

You have always been such a good friend to me,
Through the thunder and the rain,
And when you're feeling lost in the snows of New York,
Lift your heart and think of me;

There are those who fail, there are those who fall,
There are those who will never win,
Then there are those who fight for the things they believe,
And these are men like you and me;

In my dream we walked, you and I to the shore,
Leaving footprints by the sea,
And when there was just one set of prints in the sand,
That was when you carried me;

You have always been such a good friend to me,
Through the thunder and the rain,
And when you're feeling lost in the snows of New York,
Lift your heart and think of me;

When you're feeling lost in the snows of New York,
Lift your heart and think of me,
Lift your heart and think of me.