Monday, June 29, 2015
Who inspires you to be better than you are? Is it a grandparent? A parent? A sibling? A spouse? A daughter? A son? We all need someone to push us to be better than we think we are? We need someone who sees the talents in us that we don't see ourselves.
For me that has been my wife of 42 years. Whenever I don't think I can do something, she is there to push me beyond the barriers of my thinking. Whether it starting a new job that I doubted if I could be successful or getting me to do something I think is impossible. She often sees what I cannot see.
Do you seek to find the good in others? Do you seek to push them to do more then they think possible? We have all been put on this earth to help others — to inspire them. To help them become more than they are. By helping others achieve their dreams, we achieve our own. By inspiring others, we inspire ourselves. What we give out is what we receive back.
A little girl lived up in the mountains with her parents. One day she became upset at her mother and ran out of the house. She came to the edge of a cliff, and in her anger, she yelled at the top of lungs: "I hate you. I hate you."
Her own words came echoing back to her: "I hate you. I hate you." Scared, the little girl ran back into the house and told her mother that someone hated her. The mother realized what had happened and told her daughter to go back out and shout, "I love you."
Although the little girl was afraid, she tiptoed back to the edge of the cliff and shouted: "I love you. I love you." Echoing back came the words: "I love you. I love you."
What we send out is what we receive back. Do you look for the good in others? Do you seek to inspire them?
Monday, June 22, 2015
Much of the self-help literature stresses the importance of confidence. When we make a decision, we should not look back. We should not question ourselves. We should not doubt ourselves. We should act as if we have no fear.
Yet, self-doubt can be a good thing since it prevents us from becoming overconfident. When people are overconfident, they make mistakes. They assume too much and become reckless. Doubt gives us the opportunity to step back and reassess the situation — to make sure we are making the right decisions.
Have you ever made a decision and then had second thoughts? This is normal. We often second-guess ourselves. Most of the time our initial decision was the best one and we should move forward. But occasionally, this moment of reassessment gives us the opportunity to change course and correct our mistake.
My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Acapulco, Mexico. Since we were young with almost no money and I had only a part-time job, my parents paid for our trip. One day a young man offered us a free dinner if we would attend a sales pitch about time shares. We took him up on his offer. Now, I am a sucker for a good sales pitch and I bought hook, line and sinker. I signed the contract even though I did not have enough income to make the monthly payment.
Even before the ink was dry on the contract, doubt set in. I knew I had made a mistake. I could not afford the deal no matter how good it was. People can read me like a book and I am sure the salesman could read the doubt and even fear on my face. He made the mistake of telling me that if I was not satisfied, I could tear up the contract. I didn't hesitate. I tore up the contract and walked out of the room, not waiting for my wife.
My young bride was shocked and embarrassed by my behavior and she has not let me forget it in 42 years of marriage. Of course, now we laugh about my cold feet and doubt. Yet, I know I made the right decision. Sometimes, doubt protects us from ourselves and our impulses.
Yes, self-confidence is important to success, but self-doubt is a lighthouse that will keep you from running aground. Don't become shipwrecked on the rocks of time. Be willing to rethink your decisions and change course.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Let me begin by saying that I cannot carry a tune. The irony is that I have spent 25 years leading people in singing as part of a customer service workshop. The music touched people's hearts and changed their lives.
Singing has the power to soothe the savage beast that lives inside all of us. Music will cheer you up when you are down. Singing can lighten your load and free your soul from the burdens it carries. Music communicates at a deeper level than mere words or pictures.
When I was in college and I felt down, I would walk the railroad tracks that ran through campus and sing to myself. Singing cheered me up and helped me feel better about myself and the world. I would sing then and often still do the first two lines from the old gospel song, Lonesome Valley. I didn't know the lyrics to the entire song but these two lines stuck in my memory.
"You gotta walk that lonesome valley
You gotta walk it by yourself."
Here is Pete Seeger singing a version of that gospel song.
"Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin' for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin' for to carry me home"
Here is a version of the song sung by the Dublin Gospel Choir.
Monday, June 8, 2015
Life is not simple and we are often faced with challenging decisions. Do you take the easy path or the difficult one? Do you make courageous decisions or safe ones? Do you make decisions that build your character or corrupt it?
I am by nature a shy person and this has often led me to make safe decisions. I don't approach strangers and strike up a conversation. I don't go up to authors after a speech and introduce myself. I have, though, made a choice in the work place to overcome my shyness. I will approach strangers and introduce myself as part of my job.
My wife, on the other hand, has never met a stranger. She will strike up a conversation any place, any time, with people she does not know. We attended an art fair recently and she spent time talking with artists, engaging them in conversation while I stood by listening and wishing I had that kind of courage.
I also will seek out the easy path, avoiding where possible the dangerous or difficult ones. When driving a car and needing to turn left across a busy street without a stoplight, I choose to turn right and find a driveway or parking lot I can turn around in.
And I often don't make the tough decisions when I disagree with a person. I will choose not to state my opinion if it will cause friction with someone in a position of authority.
So what impact do these choices have on my character? How have they helped to create the person I have become? I sometimes think of myself as lacking courage — of lacking a willingness to standup and be counted for something I believe in. I keep my beliefs to myself and do not stir the waters.
What about you? How have your choices created the person you are? Have you been able to make the courageous decisions?
Monday, June 1, 2015
I still remember the very first standing ovation that I received 26 years ago. I had spent three hours speaking to a group of 250 managers. I was surprised and elated. I had connected with my audience and moved them to stand and applaud. As a professional speaker, I have since received numerous standing ovations. Each one was a powerful form of recognition and appreciation for a job well done.
We all need standing ovations. We need the people in our lives to recognize and appreciate what we have done. We need people to say thank you. You have touched my life. But we also need to give standing ovations to the people in our lives — to say thank you to a spouse, a child and a friend. We need to develop an attitude of gratitude.
Most of us are not hermits, living alone, isolated from friends and family. We need the help of others — including people we have never met — from the person who assembled your cell phone to the farmer who provided the food on your table. Think how barren your life would be if there were not other people to fill it with laughter and hope.
Who in your life needs a standing ovation today? Reach out and touch their lives. Say thank you. Tell them how much they mean to you.