Archive for August, 2009

Today is the final day of August. Tomorrow we’ll turn the page to welcome September.

Temperatures are cooling, leaves are turning vibrant shades of red and orange, and football is in the air. In a few short weeks frost will settle on our lawns, and we’ll be carving pumpkins.

Before Summer fades away, Fall slides into Winter, and the new year begins knocking on the door forcing us to contemplate resolutions, let’s pause for a little introspection.  Consider this:

“The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this:
decide what you want.”
[Ben Stein]

“In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing.
The worst thing you can do is nothing.”
[Theodore Roosevelt]

Have you decided what you want?
What is the “best thing” you should be doing right now?

What are you waiting for?
(Take action today!  New Year’s is four long months away.)

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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You don’t have to know
what you’re doing to start it!

At times, you can only see your next step
when you’re rounding the corner,
and sometimes it is a good thing
you don’t know what you don’t know.

When nothing is sure,
~ Lisa Hammond

What are you waiting for?

Please, PLEASE don’t tell me that you haven’t started down the path toward your dream because  you don’t know everything yet,  you’re not an expert or the plan isn’t complete.

You’ll never know everything you don’t know.  Because by the time you arrive at the testing sites scattered along the journey, what you thought you did know may be obsolete or incorrect anyway.  And you won’t know that you didn’t know until that moment. So, waiting until you know it all is a waste of time.

You don’t have to be an expert to start anything.  Have you heard of “on the job training”?  Of course you have.  The people we look to as specialists in their fields today, were considered novices on their first day.  Niels Borh said, “An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.”  Expert is in the eye of the beholder.

To become an expert takes time — it doesn’t happen overnight. So, you’d better get started!

Feel like you can’t start because you’re still working on the plan? How much longer do you anticipate that taking?  Plans are well and good, but don’t use a desire to design the perfect plan as an excuse for inaction.  “A good plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow” [Lao Tzu].

Don’t wait until you know everything.
Don’t wait until you’re an “expert.”
Don’t wait until you have developed the perfect plan.
All that waiting will lead to regret.

Today is the day for you to begin.  Stop waiting. Develop courage. Welcome change. Embrace the unknown. Live in the moment. Take  the step. Become the expert.  Implement the plan. Do the impossible!

“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment, and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next” [Gilda Radner].

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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Trust yourself.

Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with
all of your life.

Make the most of yourself
by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility
into flames of achievement.” [Foster C. McClellan].

Have you ever found yourself faced with a situation or opportunity that just didn’t “feel right”?  That didn’t fit?

It might have looked great on the outside.  Friends and family cheered at your good fortune. They were excited for your big chance. They sent you emails and organized parties and were thrilled that you had found IT.

And, at first glance, IT  was attractive, and the people were nice enough, the risk was manageable and the payoff was enticing, and you wouldn’t HATE it. But underneath all the hullabaloo, it really wasn’t a good fit.

It felt like you were wearing someone else’s clothes.  The waist was too loose and the pants were too long and the shoulders too tight and the sleeves were too short.  And, besides all of that, the fabric was scratchy!

But your friends said

if you take a little off here
shorten the hem
switch this out
add this back in
wear a different shirt
and add some accessories . . .
it would fit and you would look terrific!

Well, maybe not fit — exactly, and probably not look terrific either, but it would be acceptable.

And your friends would be able to sleep a little easier knowing you had THIS — because it’s been exhausting for them to be worrying about you all the time. And besides, they tell you, THIS is certainly better than your running around nearly naked.  Of course, no one wants that, they explain.

But you’re not so sure. And not for a specific or tangible reason that you can point to and explain.

It’s just that the “fit” is wrong, the color isn’t flattering, the style is outdated . . . it’s not you! And you know that, sometimes, the wrong thing can be very difficult to return.

Sometimes you just can’t adequately explain the why or how or who or what and it doesn’t make sense to everyone.  It doesn’t matter that others cannot understand; the answer needs to be “no,” because you said so.

Because you know what’s best for you. Because you are willing to assume the risk of doing without right now for something better tomorrow. Because you realize that choosing to dress differently doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Because you don’t want to live an uncomfortable life wearing someone else’s ill-fitting clothes.

We all must realize  that “people take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost” [H. Jackson Brown].

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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It is not the easy or convenient life for which I search —
but rather, life lived to the edge of all my possibility”
[Maryanne Radmacher].

This powerful saying hangs on the wall of my office.  It is a constant reminder to step out of the convenient and into possibility.  To push the envelope. Explore the opportunity. Peer over the edge.

Possibility.  The potentiality for favorable or interesting results [dictionary.com]. That’s the answer I choose for my life. How about you?

How will you respond when life asks, “What next?”

Living a life at the edge of possibility takes effort. It takes planning.  It requires perseverance. And it demands a determined focus.

At the edge of possibility you won’t find excuses or complaining or procrastination. There are no crime show marathons. No Saturday morning cartoons. No time to waste.

Life lived at the edge is urgent. Details are important. Clarity is paramount.

Arriving at  the edge doesn’t happen by accident.  It isn’t easy.  There is a price to pay, but the view of the future is well-worth the sacrifice!

What would you be willing to trade for a life lived to the edge of all your possibility?

What fears are you willing to overcome?
What risks are you willing to take?
What dreams are you willing to dream?

What kind of life could you create if you were willing to toss out the convenient, step-over the easy, and commit to living a life possibility?

Of course, there will be critics and challenges and cynics. So what?  Don’t allow their unbelief and negativity to pull you back into a life defined by their lowest possible acceptable denominator.

Are you ready to kick your life up a notch?

Walk over to the edge of your possibility and take a look around. Boundless opportunity awaits your arrival.

“. . . Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center” [Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.]

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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This minute. Hour. Day. Tuesday.

August 25.

Just another day filling another week stored in another month.
Or is it?

It is the postscript of yesterday.
The introduction for tomorrow.

Have you prepared for it? Anticipated it?
Did you dread its arrival?

Is it bringing you one step closer or taking you one step farther . . . away?

Anything special planned for today?
Lunch with a friend?
Staring a new job?
Embarking on a fabulous adventure?
Time with family?

What’s the weather? Rainy, sunny, cloudy?

Does it matter?

Will you have a moment to glance out the window? Walk down the street?
Play in the yard?
Enjoy Mother Nature’s bounty?

How will you choose to remember this day?

Will you remember it at all?

Will you leave a mark on it?

Will it leave a mark on you?

Will it be noteworthy enough to deserve a mention in your journal?
Let’s hope so!

Today is your day. Own it.
Fill it with the colors of your choosing.

Take a deep breath. Enjoy a good stretch.

Do something memorable.
Be gracious.
Show gratitude.

Memento Vivere: Remember To Live

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”
[Henry David Thoreau]

For the investor, these are perilous times.  The stock market is acting like a spoiled toddler.  The economy is struggling with a severe case of heartburn. The housing and job markets aren’t sending heartwarming correspondence. And Capital Hill resembles the Hatfield-McCoy feud.

What is a person to do?  Where is it safe to invest or, better yet, is there any place that is actually offering a return on investment?  (Certainly, you remember ROI from one of the many accounting, investing, or economic classes you endured for the sake of a degree?)

I’ve discovered that kindness, goodness, and assistance are paying a nice return.  So, too, are volunteering, humor, and encouragement.  These are just a few of many safe investments where you will find the returns are surprisingly high.

If you’re searching for additional investment strategies, maybe you should consider creativity, knowledge, and planning time.   Regardless of how much you’re willing to invest in these areas, you can be assured that the payoff will make you wish you had more to transfer into these accounts.  Benjamin Franklin said an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest,” and I have to agree.

Make a note to steer clear of any investment into negativity, sarcasm, and fearfulness.  Apathy, bad attitudes, and despair should also be avoided. Research shows that these funds will take everything you have, demand more, and never return anything worthwhile.  In fact, you will spend so much time managing the deficient created by these accounts, all of your other resources will suffer.

While you’re reevaluating your investment strategy, make sure you are making sufficient contributions into your family members, friends, and colleagues.   You don’t need pockets stuffed with money or bank accounts overflowing with funds in order to make quality investments in others.  There are many resources at your disposal:  a telephone call, a handwritten note, a kind word, an offer of assistance, or a quick “thinking of you” email can pay marvelous returns.

As Orison Swett Marden said, “There is no investment you can make which will pay you so well as the effort to scatter sunshine and good cheer through your establishment.”  Now, that’s advice you can take to the bank!

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself” [Abraham Lincoln].

In my neighborhood, there are three churches on the same street. Although I have never set foot inside any of them, I’m sure each of these buildings are filled with loving, kind, devoted followers. I would imagine it is also safe to speculate that all the churches embrace similar goals (impact the community, increase membership, promote God, etc.).

Regardless of how similar these churches appear, they are quite different in their approach and methodology. Here’s how I know: during the past week, the following messages appeared on their signs, advertising upcoming sermons:

Church #1: Come to me all who are weary and burdened.
(Conventional message. Probably safe, but boring.)

Church #2: God’s Holy Wrath
(Holy Smokes — literally! I wonder how many new members will visit?)

Church #3: Everyone is Naked Underneath Their Clothes
(These people have a sense of humor; they must like what they do. I’d stop by.)

I found the odd collection of phrases to be quite humorous. While the intent of the ministers was to make a positive impact, their signs were not equally successful in communicating the message.

And, well, this started me thinking about the signs we carry around everyday — the ones we use to announce our attitudes and communicate our thoughts. Even though we don’t actually carry around pieces of cardboard with words on them, our signs are quite evident; people read them loud and clear!

Here are several signs I have “read” recently. Any sound familiar?

  • Why doesn’t anyone appreciate me?”
  • “How can I help?”
  • “Look at Me! I’m very important.”
  • “You’re not part of our group.”
  • “I don’t really care what you had planned.”
  • “Thank you for (finally) leaving.”
  • “We’re glad you’re here!”
  • “I value your input.”
  • “Your ideas are insignificant.”
  • “I’m grumpy. Stay out of my way.”

Think about this important truth: Perception is Reality. The perception you create through your actions — the manner in which people perceive you — becomes their reality. Your intent may be one thing, but the message you display is the real thing.

You may honestly believe people are important. But if you fail to return phone calls in a timely manner, regularly speak in a critical tone, or constantly run late for appointments, you are writing a different message. One that says,”You are irrelevant.”

You may have the best of intentions, but if your message is misinterpreted because of your actions, you’re in trouble and your effectiveness is compromised. As Mark Twain said, “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I can’t hear what you are saying.” Talk about miscommunication!

So, what does your sign say? If you don’t like the message, the good news is that our signs are easily erasable. We have the ability to update the message instantly by changing our actions and readjusting our attitude.

Ian Percy said that “we judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” Don’t forget that others are reading our signs and using that same standard to judge us right back.

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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“There are no menial jobs, just menial attitudes.”
[William J. Bennett]

The other day Greg and I were shopping at a local grocery store. Specifically, we had stopped by to redeem rain checks for several items the store didn’t have in stock the last time we were there.

Yet again, the shelves were empty, so we went to the customer care counter to ask for another rain check. We waited as the service desk person phoned the stock person, who then (I assume) went looking for the items. Nearly ten minutes passed as we stood at the front of the store. Finally, the items were located and transported to the cashier area.

This was our second time to the store to purchase an item that had been advertised. Instead of apologies for having to issue a rain check the first visit, or appreciation for our taking the time to visit the store a second time, we were treated like annoying interruptions. Gee, thanks.

Nonetheless, Greg and I found ways to amuse ourselves during the wait and were in good spirits by the time we made our way to the cashier. The customer in front of us was just departing, and we congratulated ourselves on avoiding a long line!

As usual, Greg greeted the cashier by name and asked how she was doing. She grumbled some sort of reply (obviously, not comfortable with small talk) and without asking for our “Super Valuable Customer Fuel Perks Card” or if we had any coupons, started scanning our items. Greg stood by with a fistful of coupons and rain checks as I placed the grocery bags in the cart.

At the end of our order, the clerk stated the total due, which was less than $30. Greg asked if she wanted our “Super Valuable Customer Fuel Perks Card.” She sighed heavily, scanned it, punched some keys and announced the new total. He then said he had coupons and rain checks. Holy Moly! You would have thought we had just posed the most offensive and ludicrous question she had ever heard!

The clerk groaned, she huffed and puffed, she shook her head and angrily stated that Greg was supposed to tell her about rain checks BEFORE she rung the total and now everything (all 10 items) had to be re-rung. She smacked on her blinking lane light and motioned to the front end manager for assistance.

I looked over at Greg and said warmly, “Mr. Stevens, you are a very bad customer.” The cashier paused for a second, realizing her attitude had been exposed. Although her manner softened slightly, you could tell she was still very annoyed with us.

A few weeks ago Greg and I were checking out at a different store. This time, I was impressed by our clerk’s extremely cheerful demeanor and helpful attitude, even while dealing with the difficult customer in front of us. When we stepped up to the counter, I asked how late the clerk was working that evening. (By this time, it was 10 p.m.)

“I’m on the schedule until midnight,” he answered. “This is my second job. I work here at night to pay my car payment.”

He explained that he had been downsized from a good paying job several months earlier. Since then, he had been working two jobs, bringing home only a fraction of his former salary.

Although the cashier was dealing with unpleasant circumstances, he had an awesome attitude.

I was amazed how these two individuals, doing very similar jobs, created such wildly different experiences for their customers. It’s true that “attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference” [Winston Churchill].

Attitude is a choice. When you are in a bad mood or life has treated you unfairly, you can decide to provide great service in spite of your circumstances, or you can decide to treat people like very bad customers for having the misfortune of selecting your check-out lane. The choice is yours; choose wisely.

As Francesca Reigler said, “Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.”

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” [Victor Frankl].

Did you ever find yourself in a situation that wasn’t working out? For whatever reason you thought it was going to be one thing and it turned into something else entirely? The people and promises and possibilities that shined so brightly at the beginning, dimmed into disappointment and discouragement and discomfort along the way.

If you’re like me, you set about to change the environment, hopeful that your enlightened ideas and resourceful nature will show others the way. And you try again tomorrow. And the next day. Then later in the week. And then you reconfigure your approach. And try again and again — certain that in the end your persistence will triumph.

The reality is that few of us live in the storybook forest. The prince doesn’t always arrive. The hero isn’t guaranteed to prevail. And sometimes the bad ideas, poor employees, and ineffective systems are strong enough to survive and flourish in spite of our very best efforts.

More than 12 months ago I found myself in a situation that I simply could not change. I tried everything: snappy proposals, colorful charts, entertaining stories, and witty debates. I changed up my appeal, threw in some extra humor, and learned a few new tricks — still nothing! I couldn’t make the mountain budge even one inch.

It was at the moment when reality crashed into my dreams, that I felt challenged to change myself. I didn’t like the change that was thrust upon me, so I did some changing of my own.

It wasn’t easy or comfortable. I had to discard unrealistic expectations and fanciful notions. I spent time discovering my true self — the good, the bad, and the ugly of who I was and what I wanted out of life. (I realized I carried with me some untapped talents and amazing resources. Conversely, it quickly became obvious that I had become complacent in a number of areas.)

I got to work smoothing out the rough spots, polishing up the shiny areas, and have created a “me” that looks as good as new, but in a different way entirely. Without the courage to take an honest look at myself and accept the challenge to change, who knows where I would be today. I could have spent the past year crying over a life that was not meant to be. Instead, I’ve taken advantage of the change in plans to visit new places, meet a lot of really great people, strengthen friendships, develop new skills, accept the risk, and take the leap.

Twelve months ago I was busy trying to maintain the status quo of my life. I didn’t have the time, energy, or interest, to look for new challenges. Five months ago I was still trying to decide if I should begin a blog. A little change here . . . a big change over there, some timely advice from a friend, and today marks my 100th posting. It has been an exhilarating ride that would not have been possible without a lot of change in a lot of areas.

Even though this train was scheduled for a different destination when I boarded, the detour has been amazing. The sights, sounds, colors, and aromas of the new path have been inspiring and filled me with courage.

I’ve heard it said that “if you don’t like your reality, change it.” Sometimes the only way to change your reality, is to change yourself.

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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Work is either fun or drudgery.
It depends on your attitude.
I like fun.
[Colleen C. Barrett, Southwest Airlines]

CEO. CFO. Associate. Attorney. Volunteer. Senior Vice-President of Human Resources. Clerk. Secretary. Receptionist. Sales Representative. Manager. UGH!

Yes, job titles are important. They describe what we do, how we do it, the way we interact with others, and our scope of authority.

But why do they have to be so BORING? Is it because our jobs are dull & lifeless? Where is the FUN? What happened to the inspiration? (Why are we still using “Receptionist” when “Wizard of First Impressions” is available?)

Perhaps the more appropriate question to consider is this one: What would happen if we had super cool, intriguing, or”just plain fun titles”? What possibilities might be created if our identity reflected inventiveness, brilliance and worth?

All of this thinking about titles came about as a result of several really cool ones crossing my path recently.

  • Mark Henson is the “Chief Imagination Officer” at sparkspace. When I offered to help Mark out one afternoon, the title he printed on my name badge read “Volunteer Super Hero.” (Not just volunteer, I was officially a “super hero.” I was important. Oh, the pride and joy!)
  • My husband was recently handed the business card of an attorney. Beneath the man’s name, his title was listed as “Problem Solver.” (How very resourceful!)
  • I received an email from a district manager for a health care company last week. I was delighted to read her unofficial title was “High Priestess of Fun.” (Sounds like a corporate culture I would love!)
  • The Tech Team Leader at a local church, the person responsible for the lighting, sound, and ensuring all visual effects run smoothly, proudly wears the title of “Master Chief of Atmosphere Coolness.” The Master Chief recently bestowed new titles on all her volunteers. For example, former backstage workers are now called “Shadow Jumpers.” (Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this team?)
  • Disney refers to its employees as “cast members.” (A simple yet effective reminder that everyone is responsible for providing an “out of this world” performance for park visitors.)

See what I mean about a title changing a perspective, lifting an attitude, and opening the mind to what could be? (Or what currently is, but no one has ever noticed?)

So, what about you? If you could transform and super-charge your title into something cool, interesting, or exciting, what would it be? I dare you to give it a try and see how much fun it is.

If you are aware of any inspirational job titles floating around, I’d love to hear those, too!

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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