Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Creating a Great Day

Many people comment on my tagline at the bottom of my email and in the signoff in my voicemail.

Take care and create a great day.

I’ve noticed with great delight that many in my network have now adopted some variance of this within their own parlance.

When it comes to wishing that someone have a great day, it seems as much wishful thinking, as if to say “I hope a great day happens to come your way and you are able to latch onto it”.

In my mind, this seems to place too much randomness on the day you are having, that you would:

1. Be lucky enough to have good stuff come your way.

2. That you would be alert enough to see it.

3. That you would have the insight to take a hold of it.

4. That you would have the courage (if required) in order to grasp it.

5. That you would have the strength to hang on to it if the challenge gets difficult.

That’s a lot of stuff going on and with enough permutations that it may be as much miss as hit when it comes to reaching your maximum potential for the day.

However, when you set out to create a great day, you take ownership of the day.  You set out to create the greatest chance for success (however you define it) for yourself, your family, your friends, your co-workers, the people you lead, the people you serve and the complete strangers that you will never meet but which you influence every day.

This doesn’t provide any guarantees in Life.  While we would appreciate such guarantees, some of the best things in our Lives occur because of unexpected events.

However, setting out to create the best you can provides far greater opportunity for achieving a great day than sitting back and hoping that everything aligns perfectly.

In addition, when you feel you are creating something, you have a better sense of control over your day, moving you forward with purpose and removing the sense of helplessness many people feel as they wait for Life to happen to them.

We live in a world that the media would convince you is a crazy one filled with violence, hate, corruption, war, disease and gloom and doom.

Yes – these things are present in more quantity than we would prefer.

However, the world is also one filled with love, inspiration, beauty, miracles and examples of our ability to do great things when we are inspired to do so.

When you allow Life to happen to you, you will likely be influenced by the negativity in the world.

When you set out to create your Life, you will likely focus on the unlimited beauty and potential in the world.

Would you rather own your Life to the best of your ability or allow your Life to be owned by accidental or intentional events imposed on you by others?

I think I know what your answer is.

George Bernard Shaw once said:

Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

What are you waiting for?

Create a great day!

In service and servanthood.


My Musings-in-a-Minute version of “Creating a Great Day” is the same as my detailed blog and can be found here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Importance of Conversation

I was recently reminded of how seemingly unimportant conversations touch others as I sat in a Starbucks in a small town in western Canada and read the handwritten message on the plastic cup that held my iced venti latte.

The message read:

Lethbridge will miss you! – SBUX #4628

For those of you who don’t know me well, I do some of my best work in coffee shops across North America.  They give me an opportunity to stay energized on caffeine, an opportunity to concentrate in a place where my anonymity allows me to focus, a chance to get to know the city or town I am in (all the good and bad news of a city flows through the local coffee shop) and an opportunity to interact with amazing people.  I become a bit of a local fixture -- the mysterious stranger who engages in passionate conversation about any subject before disappearing as suddenly as he appeared.

I am the type of person who engages in conversation with everybody … sitting beside me on the plane, standing in the line at the supermarket, attending to my table in a restaurant and yes, hanging out at the coffee shop.  Some of my greatest friendships have started this way.

When I interact with people like this, I am given an opportunity to gain insight into what makes people happy, sad, angry, perplexed and the whole menagerie of other things we all experience daily.

I also have an opportunity to see that people today, despite all of our connectivity through texting, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of communication, still really appreciate a good ol’ honest-to-goodness face-to-face conversation.

I would almost suggest that we hunger for them more than ever.

Our world is becoming one of instant, quick, often sterile exchanges of information.  Sure we insert abbreviations like LOL (laughing out loud), ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing) and the like, but nothing beats real laughter shared in person.

I am also made aware of how many people out there hunger for someone to listen to them; someone who reaches out to a stranger and says a kind word that suggests that if they need someone to listen to, then the “ear” has just arrived.  This is not an “ear” that will judge but rather, an “ear” of a new friend who cares and who is genuinely interesting in hearing their story.

For many who need that “ear”, they are not necessarily looking for a solution.  However, sharing a burden oftentimes can help lighten someone’s load.  To know one is not alone is a powerful aid to overcoming many of today’s challenges.

In our day-to-day life, we may not be aware of the importance of such spontaneous, often short-lived conversation.  In case you are not aware of the importance of such conversations, allow me to share what a spontaneous conversation can produce.

Back in 2005, 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 at one point, I was offered witness protection by the State of New York.  On a wet, windy Wednesday in August of 2005, I was driving through a small town in Newfoundland, Canada 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 at a place known as Topsail Beach to focus on the conversation.

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 also noticed a lady in a red car to my left.  She was crying profusely with her head in her hands during the whole hour I was on the phone.

When I was finished with the call I started my truck and drove away,wondering what could make my day darker.  When I drove about 150 feet or so, I had a feeling that something wasn't right and 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 how a woman would feel in such a situation; a man measuring six-foot-three, wearing dark glasses and approaching her in a remote area.  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 voicemail.  I pulled over and listened to the message, a message so profound that I couldn't speak and so I silently passed the phone to my better half 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 permanently end the anguish she was experiencing.

It appeared that my spontaneous act had interrupted plans that would probably have had a much darker result had I not spoken to her.

She indicated in her message that my act of compassion and kindness, the actions of a complete stranger, would stay with her forever.  When my day is difficult I replay her message to help put my day back into perspective.  My act of going over to speak to her had caused her to rethink her actions, to change her perception of the world and to see the beauty in Life.  In return, her act of calling me to thank me caused me to change my perception of my world and the importance of every interaction we have with others.

This spontaneous conversation between two strangers lasted less than five minutes.  The result of the conversation will last a lifetime.

It reminds me to of how important every conversation is.

Every conversation has the opportunity to change a life forever.

Perhaps it is someone else’s.

Perhaps it is yours.

As for the wonderful folks at the Starbucks in Lethbridge, I’ll stop in again soon to say hi.  The same goes for the great people at Coffee Matters in Paradise, Newfoundland, Canada and my favorite little places in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Ottawa and everywhere else I have parked myself to muse upon the workings of the world.

And when I get there, perhaps I will be blessed to have a conversation with you.  If you’re shy, that’s not a problem.  I will say hi first to get us started. :-)

In service and servanthood.


For my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “The Importance of Conversation”, please click here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

You’re Not Worth Much, Are You?

It must be difficult being you.

You have no gifts to share with others.

You have no talents, insights or strengths that others want.

Few opportunities come your way that have real potential to change your life.

Your time and your life in general are of so little value that it doesn’t matter if you squander them.

Your career is not bringing a sense of purpose any more.  Maybe it never did.

You are not loving yourself and others to your fullest ability.

You are living a good life, you exclaim.  I know nothing of your life and so you question where I get the audacity to make such claims.  You are right where you want to be and I have no right to say such things.  I should mind my own business.

Heated words are exchanged as you defend yourself, as your ego attempts to assert itself over mine.

I am glad that you are defending yourself.

Because everything I said about you is NOT true.

However, if an objective observer were to evaluate you on your actions and not your words, they might come to the same conclusion as I just did.  They might say the same things about me also.

Think of these two questions.  For each question, answer on a scale of 0 (not at all) to 10 (very much so).

First question - don’t think about the answer … answer whatever comes to mind immediately.

1. On a scale of 0 to 10, how much do you REALLY believe you are WORTHY of everything you want - not how badly you want it .. how WORTHY are you of receiving it?

Second question – don’t think about the answer .. answer from your gut.

2. On a scale of 0 to 10, have you TRULY done EVERYTHING you could to achieve what you desire in your life?

When people are really honest, most people find their answers to be in conflict with each other.  Most people score higher on the first question then the second.

The questions are often followed by a need to rationalize why this is the case.

The reasons don’t matter.

The first question applies to hope.

The second question applies to belief.

In theory, they are related.

In practice, we put more effort into hope than belief and when this happens, we bet our future on dreams instead of belief, the latter fueling action and subsequently a better reality.

Hope and belief should fuel and reinforce each other … but oftentimes, we come up short when it comes to execution.

And that’s when, to the objective observer, you are settling for far less than you are capable of.

That being said, what you achieve in your life is your business and no one else’s.

You decide how far you would like to go in Life.

However, if someone offered you more of what you need right now; better health, fewer bills, more fulfilling career, etc., most would accept it immediately.

So your hopes and dreams are alive. :-)

Thank goodness!

It’s up to you to do something about converting your hopes and dreams into beliefs, which fuel action, which creates results.

You are more than worth it.

So what are you waiting for?

In service and servanthood.


For my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “You’re Not Worth Much, Are You?”, please click here.