Friday, April 30, 2010

AND, THEY'RE OFF!!!

The running of the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow at about 6 pm...fastest two minutes in sports.

If you don't already have favorites--and you should, it's an American tradition that is quick, easy and fun to get into--Lookin at Luck (3-1)is the favorite followed closely by Sidney's Candy (5-1).

(If you don't know oddspeak, the numbers above are pronounced "3 to 1" and "5 to 1". They mean that if you bet $1 on a 3-1 horse and it wins, you get $3. The higher the number on the left, the higher the odds, and the less likely, from the oddsmakers standpoint, you are to win, the higher the risk)

My favorite name in the derby is American Lion (30-1) and the one any young person under 18 should choose is Backtalk (50-1)

Stately Victor (30-1) came from behind to blow away the field in an earlier race this spring.

Check the horses at kentuckyderby.com/contenders.

It's ok to not know anything about horses, I don't, and to choose your favorite based on anything from silk colors (that's what they call the outfit the jockey wears), to name, or where they are in the line-up. Keep an eye on the jockeys; real little guys on real big, real tempermental animals.

This is one of those experiences in life that is fun, quick and an adrenaline rush...kinda like...mmm...ok...let's stay on track.

Speaking of the track; it's supposed to rain tomorrow at Churchill Downs with standing water. Messy races are fun to watch, but dangerous.

So, get the folks in the office or at home to put together a pool and bet a dollar or two. If you want to go "whole hog" as we say in the South, have some food and cocktails (mint juleps are the drink du jour at the race) or beer and get into it.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Big Blessings and Small Burdens

During the past 24 hours I’ve had two comments pop out and grab my attention.

The first is a short toast. While catching up on my favorite TV show, The Unit (I record all of them and then watch a bunch of them back-to-back-to-back), one of the characters toasted, “May all your troubles be small ones.”

Then, this morning, while reading the God Squad column in the paper I saw the phrase, “blessings outnumber burdens.”

I thought about putting those two comments together into a short thought, “May your blessings outnumber your burdens and may your burdens be small ones.” Not a bad toast, or, if you turn it to yourself, a simple prayer.

And if you’re popping out with a cynical, “Well, my burdens certainly aren’t small ones,” I’d suggest that you realize we all have tough challenges from time to time, but the alternative to being alive and having big challenges is not an attractive one.

If you don’t look around at least once a day and count some of your blessings you’re missing a wonderful opportunity to lower your stress level, appreciate life and be grateful.

Right this minute: What is one thing in life for which you are grateful?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Singin' 'Bout Da Brick House

Yesterday I was in Columbia, SC, doing a presentation for the young leaders group of the South Carolina Association of CPAs. A good group; smart people. Most of these folks are late-20s to mid-30s.

Usually, I start the leadership presentation off with this quote:

“Looking back in time we are in debt to the leaders
Angels of mercy every one.
…if you look in the soul of everyone they can be found.”
Heroes
The Commodores, 1978

I like it and find it wonderfully illustrative of the fact that everyone leads.

Before or after the quote I make the crack that they sure didn’t think they’d start off their day with a line from a song by the same group that sang, “Brick House.” (It’s about how attractive a young woman was, but we’ll get into that at another time.)

Ok, if you are of a certain age…saaayyy…over 45, you probably get that and it’s funny.

But, it hit me right before the program that most of the folks in that room probably never heard of The Commodores and surely never heard the song, “Brick House.”

So, I didn’t use the quote.

Trying to understand what someone else’s frame of reference might be—based on age, health, life situation, or other marker—is a good start when trying to communicate and relate.

Unfortunately, we don’t do that often enough. We don’t say it, but most of us assume (or hope) down deep that most folks think, act, and believe the same way we do. If so, it makes it easier to exist with them.

I have two good friends who are seriously ill. Their frames of reference are very different than mine. They are looking forward to each day while I’m looking ahead into the months and years they probably do not have.

Slow down a little…what joys, sorrows or challenges might the person near you be experiencing?

What is your frame of reference?

Through what lens do you see life?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nothing for Something

Hello, Monday!

Here’s the question of the day: What are you willing to do for nothing?

I’m willing to bet you’ll say things like, “Love my family” or…mmmm…ok, there’s….mmmmm…well, I can’t think of a lot of things after that.

Maybe you came up with a bunch of things. But, look back at each one and ask, “What do I want to get out of this?” What’s the transaction? I do that and I get this.

There are two other things that I’d do for nothing: Go to the gym and lift weights, and present seminars. Both are so much fun (Ok, I guess I get that out of them) that’d do them and not expect much reward.

Because I have that attitude I can have fun, be creative, and try new things without worrying about messing up too much.

When you find things you can do for the pure joy of them you can give all of yourself. And, that is when you start understanding who you really are.

What would you do for nothing?

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Bag of Fish

Last night a woman brought a fish to my seminar.

Well, not exactly A fish, more like a plastic bag of frozen fish.

Yesterday was warm and she didn't want to leave them in her car during the 3-hour seminar.

As you can imagine, they began to melt and there was a big puddle on the floor beside her chair within an hour.

Good intentions are wonderful and I'm convinced that somewhere in heaven we get credit for them. However, it never hurts to think a situation through before you make a decision.

And walking around with a bag of fish, unless you are on your way home to cook them, is probably not a good idea.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

If It Is To Be, It's Up To Me

What do you do when your dreams are dashed?

I don’t know if I have a good answer. Like many of you I’m struggling with challenges and asking myself, “Well, what if this is the way it is?”

Most positive thought and religious folks will point out that we shouldn’t dwell on the negative, that we should look and work for the positive future that we might create from our current reality.

But, it’s the current reality we live in.

I keep thinking that if you can find short-term rewards, successes and pleasures and keep putting one foot in front of the other then, eventually, the future arrives and, hopefully, it meets or exceeds your positive preparations and expectations.

The keys, I believe, lie in the words, “WE might create,” and “positive preparations,” and “put one foot in front of the other.”

The future is all about you making it happen.

But, again, that current reality can be difficult.

What positive step can you take today that advances you through, over, around and past your current challenge?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

That Won't Work, Nor That, Nor That, Nor That

Last night I encountered one of the most frustrating people I've met in years.

A woman attended my seminar supposedly to get some ideas about what type of small business to start. What she really came for was a shrink session.

As we talked...or, more realistically, as she talked...it turned into this tale of woe that rivaled any reality show on television today. Everyone was against her, every decision she had ever made up to and including exiting the womb had turned out wrong, all the relationships she had ever been in ended up as disasters, and even the seasons (this was a beautiful spring night) seemed to align in such as way as to drag her life through the mud.

None of her issues and challenges were the types of things (physical or mental challenges, sick children, abusive mate) that would really pull at your heart strings.

She struck me as a healthy, intelligent, young (37) woman who simply made a lot of decisions based on emotion and was easily bored.

The really frustrating part of our talk was that she was one of those people who, for every idea you gave her, had a reason why it wouldn't work.

I finally got to the point that I told her, verbatim, the last two sentences above. She gave me a look that said, "I don't understand this. Everyone else listens to my story and says, 'Oh, poor you.' "

Sometimes it's best to let people tell their story and then go on their way. But, when they bring so much negative energy you start getting that, "Just shoot me in the head," kind of feeling it's time to sound the alarm...for yourself and them.

At the end of the evening I gave her some success CDs and sent her on her way.

As we Southerners would say, "God Bless her." I truly believe that if I meet her 10 years from now she'll have the same stories.

Here's an assignment: Try to spend the day telling people things that are good about life...and watch their faces.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pie Me

Yesterday I got whacked in the face with a pie in The Pit at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Well, not exactly one pie...there were about 20.

I had a chance to participate in a fundraiser for Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity's PUSH America; it's a charity that helps create playgrounds for physically-challenged kids.

The pies weren't so bad, they were Cool Whip piled up on tin plates.

The whole thing was a hoot and I had a blast.

When was the last time you did something outrageous? I don't mean something that was a little bit off the chart, but something that, when you explained it to people they looked at you like you were crazy?

For me, this was my event for this quarter of 2010. Every few months we all should do something that is out-of-character; something that is definitely coloring outside the lines.

Things like this help keep us alive; keep us young.

I keep thinking, "I don't want to get old until I AM old."

Pie someone, or get pied. You won't regret it.

PS...if you want to see pictures go to my FB page.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Purple People Eater In the Next Room

Last week was the 50th anniversary of the creation of SETI…the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Fifty years of listening to outer space with the hopes of finding intelligent life.

My first thought was, “there are people who are still looking for intelligent life in their own families or workplaces.”

I know, I know, it seems kinda cynical. But, I hear that sort of comment all the time in seminars.

Here’s the problem, though: Too many folks think the people they love and the people with whom they work are some kinds of aliens because “OTHER FOLKS DON’T THINK THE WAY I DO!”

Just because someone else does not look at life like you do does not make them a Purple People Eater….If you are under 50 you don’t have a clue about the song but that doesn’t matter…you get the point.

These other folks are people, too. You know that intellectually, but too often, you don’t know that emotionally. And, make no mistake about it, most people act on emotion and back it up with logic.

So, who are the aliens in your life?

If they landed on your planet tomorrow, how would you greet them in such a way that they could become friends?

Friday, April 16, 2010

How Do You Spend Time and Money?

Where does your time and money go?

A good friend of mine says that you can tell what is really important to people simply by watching how they spend their time and money.

Not long ago I ran into the word, "disengenuous." As far as I know, it means saying one thing, but doing another.

So, you've got folks who say they believe in something, that a specific value is important to them, but their actions say something else.

A wonderful quote: "Your actions speak so loudly I can't hear what you are saying." I don't have a clue who said it.

Spring is in full bloom and this season is always a good time to clean out the old and bring in the new.

Why not take a little time this weekend to think about what you say you believe--how you think you act--and compare your thoughts to reality. Better still, if you have the courage, ask someone who really knows you, "If you were going to describe me to someone in these areas (your choice) what would you say?"

You might be surprised....or not.

Are you disengenuous?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Float On

This is turning into a birthday WEEK!

Maybe it’s just that I keep finding reasons to goof off and be lazy.

Or, it could be that I’m simply going with the flow, and the flow is going off into some fun areas.

Yesterday I used one of my birthday presents (a Barnes and Noble gift card) to shop around and buy a couple of books. One that caught my eye was “The Meaning of Life” published by Esquire Magazine. I found that it was a collection of the monthly feature, What I’ve Learned, in which a celebrity talks about what they’ve learned in life.

The Clint Eastwood feature started with his quote that you’re always in the river and that the best way to deal with it is to start paddling. He said that if you paddle hard enough and long enough, after awhile you get to just float.

Maybe that’s what I’m doing today.

Floating.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How Should 58 Feel?

What a great birthday yesterday!

I'm sure that the two of you who actually read this blog will understand me not cranking something out yesterday.

Now, back to real life.

Here's the question: What should 58 feel like?

Increasingly, my age surprises me...not that one year follows the other, but it's more of a ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! I'M 58?!!!

I'm starting to think: We are what we are, and if we want to be different than what we are then it's up to us to change it.

Maybe that's one of the good (or scary) things about life...that whatever happens in your life is pretty much up to you. A lot of folks figure this out early in life and even more people will say it. But, they won't actually believe it and act on it.

So, I'm going to try and figure out what age I want to be and, within reason, push to feel like that.

An interesting experiment.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The New iPad

My curiosity got the best of me and I went into an Apple store yesterday and played with an iPad.

It’s cool and everything, but it struck me as little more than a big iPhone that you can’t call or print or take a picture with. The advantages relate to size; you can read an ebook better and you can watch movies. Everything else is pretty much the same. I did discover that PowerPoints can be produced and shown from the iPad.

The iPad breaks new ground relating to connectivity and convenience. But, here’s the real deal: The best things about an iPad, and what it will really do for us haven’t been created yet. It’s a door opening to a new era.

The early adopters and the Apple Addicts will jump all over it. Good for them.

Most of the rest of us will wait for some of the advances and adaptations. There will be a small number of Luddites and stingies who won't accept it. That’s the way any new thing is treated.

So, you have to decide which group you’ll be a member of. I’m for the new stuff, but am going to wait a little while and try and figure out how it will help me do whatever I need it to do better than what I already have.

Met a guy tonight who said, “My cellphone is five years old and ugly, but it does what I need it to do.”

And, ain’t that the point?

Have a big weekend...and sing for me...my birthday is Monday so there is no telling if you'll see a blog or not.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ya Gotta Pay If Ya Gonna Play

I just checked to see if I had won the $125 million payout for Powerball.

While I didn't win I did see some of the same numbers on my page that were in the sequence of winning numbers. Sometimes I've wondered if they even used the same numbering system when they pick winners.

I have friends who see the habit of buying lottery tickets as a waste of money. I don't. And here's why: Someone has to win. Sooner or later someone's number will be picked...and why shouldn't it be me.

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."

So, I buy a ticket a couple of times a month. As one of my Northern friends would say, "Ya nevah know."

Look around in your life and ask yourself, "What could I take a small chance on that, if it won, would make a big difference in my life?"

It could be buying a lottery ticket, or it could be taking a moment to speak to a stranger.

Ya pays ya money ya takes ya chances.

Go for it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How Do You Know What You Don't Know?

How do you find out about new products, ideas, or lifestyles?

Current research is showing that most of us are increasingly getting our information from the Internet and we are logging on to sites that focus on information, ideas, attitudes and products that we already feel comfortable with and know about.

In other words, we aren't being exposed to ideas that are unfamiliar to us. So, how will you learn about new things if you spend most of your time with that which is already comfortable to you?

Here's an idea I've used for years: When you are standing in line at the grocery store reach over and pick up a magazine you would not normally purchase. Don't buy it. Simply skim the table of contents. I can promise you that you'll see a topic you don't know anything about. At that point you have gone from Stage 1 of Knowledge, "Don't know that you don't know," to Stage 2, "You know that you don't know."

Stage 3 is, "You know that you know," and Stage 4 is, "You know and do based on Second Nature."

Other ways to become exposed to new ideas are simple; talk to people about topics that you find interesting but know little about, view TV programs about new topics, subscribe to magazines such as The Week, which offers a wide range of topics and information. You could take a course, online or classroom. You could browse the Internet.

If you stick only with what you know you won't grow.

And, if there is one thing we all have to do in today's world, it's grow.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Did You Find Any Eggs?

Welcome back from Easter; hope you found some eggs!

Why don’t we hide colored eggs other days of the year?

The basic reason is that we don’t mind delaying the gratification we get from doing it on Easter.

Now, think about various areas or issues in life that, if you could delay gratification for a little while, or longer, you could achieve more, feel healthier, and feel more in control of life.

This suggestion doesn’t mean that you can’t let go every now and then, but letting go too often leads to a soft, undisciplined, less-accomplished life.

Hide some eggs for yourself and achieve more in life.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Any Friday is a Good Friday

I know that I should have listened better in Sunday School, but I wondered about today, Good Friday.

Here’s what Wikipedia says: Good Friday, also known as Holy Friday, Black Friday, Great Friday, is a holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death as believed by Christians at Calvary.

Some would say that any Friday is a Good Friday. I run into that a lot with folks in seminars. When people describe their jobs, so many…too many…describe them like they are going to work in a salt mine.

A young woman I know frequently offers comments on FaceBook like, “Only 5 hours to go until the end of the day.” My thought is that if she spent more time focusing on her job and less time on FaceBook her day would go by faster.

But, that’s just me.

I hope you have a wonderful Easter Weekend and whatever your social, religious, or personal traditions are….I hope you find some eggs.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

ALERT!! We Just Invaded Canada!

Well, it’s about time!

I just saw on the news that we’ve invaded Canada.

Like many Americans I’m tired of a bunch of Cannucks coming down and taking up all the hotel rooms in Myrtle Beach every winter and trying to foist their faux-sport, hockey, on all us Southerners.

Ok, you probably got it right off the bat that this is April Fool’s Day.

But, are you so serious minded that you believed it even for a milli-second?

What a great day to lighten-up!

Pull a fast one on someone you know. Tell a joke. Do something silly.

Life has gotten so serious on so many fronts that we could all use a day every now and then to let go and relax.

I’m planning on spending the day doing….nothing productive!