Monday, October 25, 2010

Hold On – Help is on the Way

I was reminded this past weekend of the tenuous hold we have on Life.

I was also reminded how important every minute is with the people that matter to us.

As I write this today, I am grateful that my oldest son is alive – 48 hours ago, this mightn’t have been the case.

And as I sit here and wait for healthcare professionals to plan through next steps, I am grateful that his long term prognosis appears to be good.

48 hours ago, I wasn’t filled with gratitude.

I was filled with fear.

I was filled with grief.

I was filled with anxiety.

I was filled with anger.

My head was exploding with emotion.

But that wasn’t helping anyone, in particular my son.

It wasn’t helping me either.

In fact, it wasn’t doing anything positive for anyone.

In our personal and professional lives, we often find ourselves overwhelmed as we face decisions that impact ourselves and others or the need to understand “why” when we feel we are being crushed by the events around us.

And during those moments, we may find ourselves overwhelmed with many emotions, some that help us to survive and some that drag us down like a millstone around our neck.

Even during those moments, it is important to realize one thing.

As long as you are breathing, there is opportunity for hope.

There is opportunity for solutions.

There is opportunity for miracles.

And when you come to this realization as I did, you realize, as strange as it sounds, that you have something to be grateful for even as your world seems to be closing in around you.

Gratitude … an often overused word and yet a feeling that can provide the firm footing you need while you quiet the noise around you, giving you time to regroup.

Sometimes it is hard to find the things to be grateful for, especially in times of loss or pain.

But sometimes as the tempests blow around you, being grateful for the smallest thing can give you the glimmer of hope, the tiny seed of strength you need as you wait for the cavalry to arrive, bringing love, support and hope.

After all, if we don’t have hope that things can get better when they appear to be at their worst, what do we have at all?

If you feel pressured by the events of your Life, hold on – help is on the way.

And if you’re the cavalry, it’s time to mount up.  Someone needs your help today.

In service and servanthood,


For my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “Hold On – Help is on the Way”, please click here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Juan Williams and NPR

I rarely comment on politically-charged events in the media.

However, the firing of Juan Williams from NPR for his comments is disrupting me.  Click here for a description of why his comments about seeing Muslims on aircraft and how they make him nervous got him fired.

It is important that we NOT assume every Muslim is out to kill people. There are radical Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists and everything else.  Craziness doesn’t have a preferred creed.


The media keeps drilling us that Muslims are the key problem (whether accurate or not).

Public transit (subways, trains, ferries, airlines, etc.) have signs plastered everywhere reminding us to be aware of suspicious activity and to report it immediately.

Intelligence sources keep telling us of things that have been averted but can't tell us what for national security reasons.
We are constantly reminded that the next big event is a "when" and not an "if".

So we are called to keep our diligence high but are left in the dark about what we should be diligent about.

So when Williams says how he looks out for trouble, in essence what his best interpretation is of all of this information, he is fired.

If we can be punished for guessing based on the enormous crush of innuendo and vague information, then PLEASE help us to help you by telling us:



Don't make people guess and then punish them for expressing how they do it based on the heavy crush of vague, fear-spreading information that flows daily.

And don’t punish people for exercising their right to free speech.  Isn’t this a foundational element of the great United States of America?

Otherwise, this just keeps everyone off balance.

But then again maybe that's the intention.

The question would then be ….


In service and servanthood.


For my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “Juan Williams and NPR”, please click here.

If I Wanted Your Opinion ….

… I’d give it to you.

So goes the phrase, often expressed and laughed over.

The only problem is … it’s not funny anymore.

I’ve found myself in a few interesting debates as of late, discussing some heated subjects with others.

What I have found interesting is that in many of these debates, there were a couple of things prevalent:

1. There was anger on the part of the other person (sometimes a lot more than the subject warranted)

2. There weren’t a whole lot of facts being used to defend the other person’s position, just the afore mentioned emotion.

I found this intriguing and puzzling (and frustrating, to be honest) to observe until one person finally enlightened me yesterday when he said:

You have no right to say this.

It finally hit me.

We weren’t taking opposite sides in the debate I thought I was participating in.

I was in fact, defending my right to have a contrary opinion at all.

I just didn’t realize it and hence I had brought the wrong facts to the table. 

Many cultures in the world have developed and flourished because of the open exchange of ideas.  Such exchanges are often passionate and sometimes anger filled as people agree and disagree.  However, we have always embraced the right to the exchange and we grow as a result of it.

When we lose the ability to explore all sides of something, when a particular side is automatically right “just because”, then one of the foundational elements of our culture is lost.

And as with any structure, when the foundation falls, the structure won’t stand for long.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi once told Americans that if they disagreed with national healthcare then they were un-American.

President Obama recently told a number of college students to stop paying attention to social media as the opinions being circulated around were creating too much confusion.

That is their opinion.

However, the truth is that your opinion matters also.

So does mine.

And when we embrace this belief, we embrace making something better.

Any idea that is properly debated will be stronger as a result of the vetting and exploration process.

I would rather my idea be made stronger through such a process or proven that it is a bad idea, so that I can abandon it before I waste too much of my time or someone else’s.

What do you think - do you agree or disagree?

Or do you think I’m not entitled to my opinion at all? :-)

In service and servanthood.


To see my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “If I Wanted Your Opinion …”, please click here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Truth Welcome Here

As I walked into my favorite coffee shop today, my eyes fell upon a sign that is common in many establishments.

It said “Welcome here” and showed symbols of all of the primary credit cards that have become commonly known around the world.

If we as a species hung a “Welcome here” sign welcoming visitors to Earth, what types of things would we say are welcome?

Would truth be one of them?

We live in a world where we claim to cherish truth as a primary value but often it seems that it is only a primary value when it is convenient; when being truthful doesn’t conflict with some other intention or need.

Many people laugh at the conundrum of some areas where truthfulness is challenged – the classic “do these pants make me look *whatever*” where we accept that either a “yes” or a “no” puts us in a compromised position.

However, it seems more and more these days that truth, especially when it comes to realities that may be painful to accept, are viewed as pessimism. In these situations, unless we can spin something into a positive light, we often feel like we are better off not saying anything at all for fear of being criticized as not being a positive person or being afraid (as politicians think) that people wouldn’t be able to handle the truth.

“Stuff” that needs to be addressed doesn’t fix itself in the meantime.

I was talking to someone about the amazing rescue of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped for more than 60 days and remarked that over the same period, 1.6 million children under the age of 5 died from tainted water around the world and this didn’t even make the press.

They were quite offended by this, claiming that the rescue was a great triumph of humanity while there is nothing that can be done to save the children and so to mention such a thing was incredibly pessimistic.

The truth is that the Chilean rescue was something we could watch on TV, we could pray or hope for their rescue and sit back comfortable in the knowledge that we weren’t directly responsible for their plight or their rescue.  We could just enjoy the show.

As for the children who die around the world from tainted water, the truth is that their story could have a better ending, if we had the will to fix it. 

And that’s the great trouble with truth, whether it be on a political level, a corporate level, a societal level, an ecological level, etc.

It has this nasty way of reminding us of our responsibilities to ourselves, to others and to the planet – of reminding us that there are still some things that need fixing in this world and that WE own the problem and the solution.

A former client of mine and a wonderful human being sent me a note the other day where he used an expression that really struck me.  He said he was a “tactical pessimist and a strategic optimist”. I refer to this as a realist with an optimistic outlook – people who acknowledge that while significant challenges exist, our potential to overcome them is even greater.

There will always be challenges – in business, in government, in relationships, in our health and in the world at large.  The best way to tackle them is to acknowledge they are there.

When we acknowledge they are there, we have an opportunity to collaborate towards proactive solutions.

Being truthful to ourselves and others is often painful.

When we choose to not be truthful, we know that the truth always comes out eventually.

When it comes out on our own terms, it is often much less painful than if allowed to eventually make its way to the surface.

Easier said than done … but an important goal to strive towards nonetheless.

To be truthful, our world is counting on it.

Can it count on you?

In service and servanthood,


To see my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “Truth Welcome Here”, please click here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Changing Your Perspective

I’m sitting in a coffee shop this morning where a food drive is under way to help the local food bank.  They are accepting whatever one chooses to give – non-perishables, money, etc.

As I observe the customers frequenting the coffee shop, there appears to be very few people contributing to either the food bin or the money container.  In our busy world, it is easy to overlook those who ask for help.  Sometimes we rationalize that too many people are asking for our help and it is time for someone else to carry the load.

It is important for all of us to know that for as abundant as our Life may be, the truth is that we are never far from being the one who needs help.  Life teaches us humbling lessons – not when we want them or are ready for them but when we need them.

I know – I’ve been there.  Most honest people will admit that they have been there also.

I noticed something else this morning.  When I change my viewpoint from one of not many people contributing to one of many people giving generously, I noticed that many more are giving to the person collecting.

Some people would say that visualizing more generous people actually creates a future of generous people.

Others would say that we see what we choose to see and so by changing my lens, I perceive what I wish to see – more people giving from their heart.

Others would say it is luck or coincidence.  Unfortunately for them, I don’t believe in either.

I believe everything happens with purpose.

And while many things feed your purpose (vision, mission, goals, beliefs, networks, knowledge, skills, talents, opportunities, courage, wisdom, etc), I am reminded this morning that one of the key things that is essential to what you experience is your perspective.

You have the power of choice – use your ability to choose your perspective to your advantage and to the advantage of others.  Act as if your personal and professional Life depends on it because it does.

What you choose to see today is what you create for yourself and others.

What do you see right now?

In service and servanthood.


My Musings-in-a-Minute version of “Changing Your Perspective” can be found here.