Friday, May 28, 2010

Remember the Reason

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

And don't forget the reason for the holiday. Say a prayer for the folks throughout the world who keep us safe.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Being the Class Clown

It does not bother me not one iota to say that I was the class clown.

In high school I was always the guy they chose to do the crazy stuff.

In college I WAS the John Belushi character, Bluto, in the fraternity.

The wonderful outcome of those experiences is that it does not bother me too much to look foolish.

Therefore, I might try something someone else might not because I’m willing to fail while trying and I don’t worry what other folks think about it.

That’s not a bad quality to have.

What would you like to do that you haven’t done because you think you might look foolish?

Try it and watch…you’ll probably be reasonably good at it and surprise yourself.

However, if things go South and you look like a dope, remember, the folks around you didn’t have the guts to try it in the first place.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cookin' Up a Stew

I love Ricky Nelson’s song, “Garden Party.

It was a 1972 hit for Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band. The inspiration came from his being booed off the stage at Madison Square Garden, seemingly because he was playing his newer, country-tinged music (and looking more 70s than 50s) instead of the 1950s-era rock that he had been successful with earlier, and his realization that "you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself".

Most of the folks you know have an image in their minds of who you are. The image is based on past experiences, things they’ve heard, assumptions they make about how people should act; it’s a whole stew of assumptions/emotions/feelings.

But, you aren’t that stew. It’s their stew.

If you spend your time trying to live up or down to their stew you end up with left-overs for a life.

It’s a silly way to look at it, but you have to make your own stew. And that stew won’t please everyone.

At the end of your life do you want to being lying in that bed thinking, “I spent my whole life making stew for everyone else”?

Make your own stew and find ways to enjoy it.

What’s something you’d rather not be doing that, now, the only reason you do it is to please someone else?

Might be time to turn off the stove and put the lid on that pot.

PS...today is John Wayne's Birthday. Happy Birthday, Duke!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Climbing a Metal Mountain

As part of a volunteer group I'm helping to refurbish a big, old house.

Yesterday morning, when I walked out into the parking lot I saw a man climbing all over the big dumpster we are using to dispose of all the debris. He was looking for metal to take to the junkyard and sell. He and a companion had a beat-up old pickup and both looked like regular, healthy eating was not something they did on a daily basis.

My first thought was gratitude. I was deeply thankful that that was not how I had to make a living.

After scouring the house for some more metal for them I sent them on their way; things being what they are in our litigious society the last thing I need is a lawsuit from someone who was hurt on our property.

But, I have continued to have a mental image of this guy on top of all that trash looking for pieces of junk to essentially trade for food. And every time I have that image I'm thankful.

Many of our friends and neighbors are working through difficult times, financially. Many have been displaced and are still finding it hard to find work.

If you have a job, be thankful. If you are reasonably healthy, be thankful. If you had dinner last night and breakfast this morning, be thankful.

Gratitude is the foundation of a good life.

For what are you grateful today?

Monday, May 24, 2010

James Bond and Jim Thorpe...What a Pair!

Since the end of this week is the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend I’ll offer the blog that would have been set for Friday.

Friday is the birthday of two extraordinary, but wildly different, men: Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, and Jim Thorpe, arguably the greatest athlete in modern history.

Fleming was an Englishman from a relatively uppercrust family. Thorpe was a native American born in poverty on a reservation.

Both sought and found their strengths; Thorpe, as a child, and Fleming as a grown-man finishing military service.

Despite their differences they shared one quality: Excellence.

While we all can’t be world-renowned writers and athletes we can look for those strengths that we can use in the service of ourselves and others.

And note that I said “ourselves” first. If we can’t take care of ourselves we can’t serve others.

What is the one strength you have that allows you to stand out from others. Everyone has something…some gift…that they can give to themselves and others.

What’s yours?

Friday, May 21, 2010

And...What Can I Get You?

Today is National Waiters and Waitresses Day.

Working in the food service industry is a tough way to make a living. I did it in college and loved it but I can’t imagine what trying to make a full-time living waiting tables would be like…especially in tough economic times.

If you are out today and are served and receive bad service, in any setting, food or otherwise, say something. Don’t just let it pass. Call a manager and say, “Let me tell you what happened.” Even if it doesn’t prompt a change in the individual the complaint will make you feel more in control of your life.

However (and I believe that this is more important), if you receive good service DEFINITELY tell the person who gave you the service that you appreciated what they did. And if it’s a food service situation, tip a little extra. Make a point of catching people doing things right.

AND DON’T ADD SOMETHING THEY COULD HAVE OR SHOULD HAVE DONE BETTER TO THE END OF THE COMPLIMENT! That response dilutes the accolade.

You did a great job of coming to read the blog this morning. See, don't you feel better already? I know I do.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Aaaeeeiiiii! It's Got Me!!

I love the phrase “catch hold” a lot. Some of us Southerners use it in a variety of ways. I believe it implies a sense of energy. Like, “If I catch hold of you it’ll be something!” or, “I hope I don’t catch hold of a cold.”

Well, ok, maybe YOU wouldn’t talk like that but I know folks who do and, sometimes, I do, too.

One of my favorite times in life is when I catch hold of what I think is an important idea. Because it’s almost as if I don’t catch hold of IT so much as IT catches hold of me! My focus narrows and my energy level skyrockets.

One’s got me now.

Here it is: How do changes in our lives affect us in the practical, day-to-day issues of life?

I don’t mean how do changes affect our emotions or health or relationships. I’m talking about something that is seemingly as simple as finding your car keys.

If you have a change in your life how does it affect your use of time, how you communicate with others, and how organized you are?

My theory is this: If you have change in your life and you can find some simple solutions to keeping a handle on the time, people and stuff in your life, and not waste time with the confusion change causes, you’ll have more time to adjust to the change, create the new reality, adapt, and move ahead.

That’s it. That’s the idea that has caught hold of me. And it has energized me to the point that I am going through all the books in my library (no small task, believe me) to see if “change” is listed in their indexes.

Does an idea have hold of you now?

What idea, if it had hold of you, would energize you the way this one has affected me?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Whack-a-Mole

I’m working on a project and it seems that every time I get a handle on it something else pops up.

I’m starting to look at it like playing the game, Whack-a-Mole. If you remember, it’s a game in which you hold a padded mallet and when the little mole pops out of his hole you whack it!

At this point I don’t know if the things I have to do are the moles…or if I am.

Whenever you have a project that really matters to you it often seems that obstacles pop up that keep impeding your progress. The ones I hate are the ones that jump up just as the project comes to fruition and make you think, “THIS ain’t gettin’ done ‘cause of THAT!”

And most of the time you can’t plan for those kinds of moles…they just pop up.

The best solution in addition to thinking through the potential problems before they occur is to step back and collect your thoughts when you encounter an obstacle. You may not have to do anything.

What moles have popped up for you today?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hee Haw! Hee Haw!

Making assumptions is a good way to get burned and make yourself feel stupid. As the cliche' goes, sooner or later assuming "makes and ASS out of U and ME."

I'd love to say that I'm highly evolved enough to not hold assumptions about how different people from various parts of the United States are, but hey, I'm human.

Yesterday, I was UP North (as we Southerners say) presenting for a large corporation. For awhile now I had been thinking, "You know how Yankees are." I was concerned about how the audience would react to my style and humor which is somewhat Southern.

So, before the program I made a point of greeting each person as they came into the room and chatting with them a bit. We joked about accents and by the time the program started, it was like old home week; one of the best programs and most fun I've had in a long time.

Presenting to smart, receptive people is always enjoyable. This was a group of physicians, pharma docs, nurse practitioners and other health care professionals. They got IT and the program was a blast.

Yesterday was another life lesson that, for the most part, we are all alike. Hopefully, they didn't see my tail, my two big ears, and hear me bray, "Hee Haw! Hee Haw!."

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just Ask

Shadow is a smart little dog owned by a friend. Since it's been about 50 years since I've been around a dog on a regular basis it's been interesting to watch Shadow.

Shadow is an "inside" dog and when she wants to go outside she jumps up and down and runs to the back door. When she wants to come back inside she stands near the door and barks a couple of times.

Shadow does a great job of asking for what she wants. She doesn't feel bad or guilty about asking. She knows how to ask in a way that prompts people to respond.

What do you want to ask for? What do you need to be able to have the type of life you want? Whom should you be asking?

If you have trouble asking for what you want, there is a wonderful book, The Aladdin Factor. It's by Jack Canfield, the same guy who wrote a lot of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. If you see it on Amazon.com you might want to buy it.

Ask for what you want? All they can do is say, "No." That won't kill you.

And, if you ask again tomorrow, they might say, "Yes."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Better You

I present seminars in all kinds of places. From dungy rooms in a run-down building to some of the nicest places in America, I've done'em all.

This morning I'm at the Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, in The Lodge. A wonderful facility with a first-class staff.

Maybe it's just me, but don't you feel better and perform better when you are surrounded by excellence? Your mood is brighter, your focus is tighter and you want to step up and equal the quality you experience.

In small or big ways, how can you bring excellence into your life and use the experience to raise your game? You might be able to improve your surroundings, but that gets a little expensive (and often worth it), or you could simply have some small thing that sits on your desk or rides in your pocket that, everytime you see it or hold it, reminds you to seek that better you.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Same Old, Same Old for a Better Mind, Body and Soul

What do you do to get through times of change?

Do you keep putting one foot in front of the other knowing that, in time, the change will settle in to a standard routine? Do you try to reinvent the wheel each time you are confronted by a new change and challenge? Do you have a planned routine you can use as a stabilizing agent for getting you through difficult times?

I’d vote for a combination of all three, but the most important one is the last one.

Having a few, familiar, comfortable routines and rituals you can use to provide a stabilizing foundation for your day and your life is a great way to handle change.

Simple things such as meal plans, exercise routines, sleeping habits, worship rituals, and fun activities (especially with family and friends) you enjoy can all remind your mind, body and soul that EVERYTHING in life hasn’t changed.

If you believe that every facet of your life is changing, that’s when the wheels start coming off. Even though you may have major changes happening—and life changes every day—if you can retain a sense of normalcy in some of the basic areas of life you’ll find yourself better able to deal with the big issues.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Rise of the Machines

So, let me get this straight.

The stock market loses almost 1,000 points in 15 minutes and then jumps back up by over 600 points in the next 15 minutes? Proctor & Gamble and 3M lose over a third of their value in an hour and then rebound?

And some stockbroker says, “It was the ‘fat finger theory’.”

The “fat finger theory” says that someone was entering a trade and their fingers were so fat that they entered the wrong number. (Don’t get too literal…usual it just means that somehow a wrong number was entered in a trade.)

It does kinda explains all the calls my cellphone drops..I’ve got a pretty fat face (Ok, Ok, it isn’t that my fat face is pretty, but you get the idea) and I keep pressing the off button with my cheek.

Back to Wall Street. So, after the erroneous trade, evidently some computers took over and started making trades to save and make money for various firms and the whole thing just took off.

This is what I’m trying to understand: Doesn’t this sound a lot like the Terminator movies in which the computers take over, launch a bunch of nukes, and we end up with a world run by automatons?

Hmmmm….that does sound kinda like what Wall Street and the government is like right now, doesn’t it?

Have a great weekend.

PS…put your money in a Duke’s mayonnaise jar and bury it in the back yard.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Just 30 Seconds

What are you doing for the next 30 seconds?

How about this: Look around and see what needs to be organized, straightened up or cleaned-up. Now, get up and work at it for only 30 seconds. At the end of 30 seconds you get to stop. That’s it.

Now, do the same thing each time you leave your home, or when you leave your work area at lunch and at the end of the day.

Those three, 30-second chunks of time, are magical. They will get and keep you organized.

That’s The 30-Second Secret.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Or........

Am listening to the old Mel Carter hit, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me.”

Today’s song probably would be, “Text Me, FaceBook Me, Tweet Me.”

American business loses $7,000,000,000….that’s seven b...b...billion dollars in lost productivity due to the alarm on our computers that signals when an email comes through.

When the little alarm sounds it’s like someone saying, “Look! Here’s an interruption from something you don’t want to be doing in the first place”

And after the email it takes us awhile to get back to actually getting something done.

Turn the alarm off and check emails first thing in the morning, at lunch, and about 3:30. You’ll get more done and you won’t be training other folks to expect an immediate response, which is what puts us all on the 24/7 leash.

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Or........

Am listening to the old Mel Carter hit, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me.”

Today’s song probably would be, “Text Me, FaceBook Me, Tweet Me.”

American business loses $7, 000,000,000….that’s seven b...b…b…billion dollars in lost productivity due to the alarm on our computers that signals when an email comes through.

When the little alarm sounds it’s like someone saying, “Look! Here’s an interruption from something you don’t want to be doing in the first place”

And after the email it takes us awhile to get back to actually getting something done.

Turn the alarm off and check emails first thing in the morning, at lunch, and about 3:30. You’ll get more done and you won’t be training other folks to expect an immediate response, which is what puts us all on the 24/7 leash.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Getting Your Hugs On

This is National Hug Holiday Week…no kidding.

In fact, there is a group, Hugs 4 Health, whose members stand on street corners and offer hugs for free.

The health value of being close to another human being is undeniable.

So, hug someone this week. You’ll be healthier and so will they.