Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Grabbing, Appreciating and Taking a Hit

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Joseph Campbell, author, The Hero’s Journey

Did you plan a linear life? Were you taught that life was high school, college, job, marriage, kids, a house, career and retirement?

Me, too.

Has it worked out that way?

Me, neither.

In order to survive and thrive in a non-linear life you have to be able to do two things: grab and appreciate opportunities, and take a hit.

Grabbing an opportunity takes courage; appreciating an opportunity takes knowledge and the acquisition of knowledge takes time and experience.

Being able to take a hit requires resilience and patience.


If you aren’t living the linear life you expected you can do..again…two things; whine about the fact that life isn’t what you expected, or prepare for the non-linear life by grabbing and appreciating what you have and building the resilience to take the hits that will surely come.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Shot Down and Buried Alive

This past weekend was spring cleaning weekend here at The Cottage. I bought some 409 cleaner and Pine Sol and other stuff I never use and did a reasonable job of cleaning up a winter’s worth of gunk and dust.

Buying the 409 reminded me of my encounter with Wilson Harrell. He was one of the country’s best-known entrepreneurs from the ‘50s to the ‘90s. In the mid-1960s, Harrell, along with longtime friend David Woodcock and television personality Art Linkletter, bought Formula 409.

I met Harrell in the late ‘80s at the Kenan-Flagler Business School where he was on the board of the Kenan Institute. He told me a story that anyone who aspires to accomplish anything in life needs to hear.

Harrell was a fighter pilot in WWII and received the Purple Heart, the Air Medals with 4 Oak Leaves and the Presidential Citation. He was shot down over German-occupied France and severely burned in the crash. The area was crawling with German soldiers so the farmers who found him actually buried alive in a field! They would dig him up at night, check his wounds, feed him and let him rest an then re-bury him before daylight. Harrell said he could feel the soldiers walking close to his "grave." 

He said, “You know, after an experience like that being in a stressful business situation is really no big deal.”


Most of us have never been shot out of the sky or buried alive, but we’ve all gone through difficult life situations. Think about it; some of the challenges we need to overcome to have the type of life to which we aspire are not really big deals.

Friday, April 18, 2014

It's Raining, It's Pouring

Today is a beautiful day in North Carolina but it appears we have some bad weather coming in.

Some friends had a weekend at the beach planned and have canceled it due to the coming rain. They said, “We’d have be inside all weekend and that’s just not how we want to spend the weekend.”

I get it.

However, I also get the fact that for me, being inside with great books, nice people, some supplies and being able to listen to the rain roar on the roof sounds like a wonderful way to spend a weekend.

One person’s bad weather is another’s opportunity for a great time.

Sure, it’s a cliché, but if you’re handed a lemon can you make…a lemondrop!...it’s a drink with chilled vodka in a glass rimmed with lemon juice and sugar!

Whatever is coming your way, or whatever you’re in the middle of that seems less than positive, there’s a way to turn it around and look at—if not the bright side—the less-than-dark side.


Have a great weekend indoors or out! See you Monday.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How Easy Is It to Be Happy?

Neuroscience tells us that when we experience “happy” our brains secrete chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin; the chemicals give us the feeling with define as happy.

Three things make people happy: Being in specific situations, engaging in specific activities and being with specific people.

Specific, not general.

So, what situations, activities and people give you the happy feeling?

If you will put yourself in those situations, engage in those activities and be with those people more often you’ll be happier.

It’s just that easy.


PS…studies show that thinking about those things or seeing pictures or coming in contact with mementos related to them (which make us think of the situations/activities/people) all give us some of the happy feeling.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Second Wind

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second. Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.
-- William James 1842-1910, Psychologist, Professor and Author

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's Free! Help Yourself!

To whom or what or where do you go for advice?

I’m not sure if research would prove this, but it seems the younger someone is the more likely they’ll go to the Internet for advice, suggestions, directions or instructions.

I think that’s a good thing.

Why wouldn’t you use the most incredible source of information in the history of mankind as a resource?

And yes, I know there’s a lot of squirrelly stuff on the Web and it’s a sarcastic cliché to say, “Well, I know it’s true because I saw it on the Internet.”

Got that.

But, try this: simply go to whatever search engine you use and search, “How to have a great life,” and see what you get.

You’ll find a number of list articles with 50, 10, 7 or 3 ways to have a great life. The wonderful thing is that there will be suggestions on the lists you never would have thought of!

Use the search phrase strategy for anything you want to learn and see what comes up. 

If you’re like me and you love learning it’s like walking into a candy store that has a big sign saying, “It’s Free! Help Yourself!”


And, that’s what you’re doing.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Heading Out of Port

On this date in 1912, at 11:42 pm, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and began sinking; over 1500 people died when the ship sank in the early morning of April 15.

On April 10, when the ship began its maiden voyage, it was the largest ship afloat and was considered unsinkable. No one could have imagined what would happen five days later.

 We rarely begin voyages of life planning to fail. But, staying in port is not really an option unless we want lives devoid of love, excitement, challenge and fun.

Over the weekend, as I appreciated all the birthday wishes (oh, did I tell you Saturday was my birthday <62>?!), I thought about the love, excitement, challenges and fun of the last few months, years and decades. There are some situations, people and decisions I’d consider changing, but if I did I might not have the moment in life I have now.

And this moment is pretty great.


Even understanding the challenges I probably would have still have headed out of port.