Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Stevens Creative Consulting’

Time is the longest distance between two places.”
~Tennessee Williams

Did you happen to see the story about the teacher from New Hampshire who was awarded her degree the day before she passed away?

Harriet Ames earned a two-year teaching certificate in 1931, but her ultimate goal had been to achieve a Bachelor degree.  She had been taking classes until she retired in 1971 and her health began failing. Recently, the school reviewed her coursework and determined she had enough credits to award the long-sought degree.

Ames was waiting nearly 40 years.

Think about this story for a minute.  Nothing changed during the past four decades; Ames had already fulfilled the requirements to reach her goal. With a little action and perseverance, she could have proudly displayed her framed diploma on a wall in her home.

I know a lot of people who are waiting.  They’ve done the work, made the calls, completed the course work, been patient, diligent, faithful.

Waiting to finish this season of their life.

Waiting for the next big thing.

Waiting to see if the shoe will drop.

Waiting for an answer.

Waiting for the future to come into focus.

Waiting for the check to come in, for the tide to change, the pieces to fall in place, for the opportunity to present itself.

Yes, there is a season to wait  But don’t confuse waiting for something to happen as approval to do nothing.  Waiting is not some “no man’s land.”

What are doing while you’re waiting in the “right now” — the mundane, slogging through the motions, living the day-to-day, fulfilling the obligations life of yours?

Don’t become discouraged. Don’t quit. Don’t turn around and go home.

Keep dreaming. Keep working. Keep the attitude and confidence levels high. Seek out opportunity. Stay calm. Continue to be a person of character. Help others. Remain faithful.

“None of us knows what the next change is going to be,
what unexpected opportunity is just around the corner,
waiting a few months or a few years
to change all the tenor of our lives.”
[Kathleen Norris]

Hang in there.  Be patient. You can get through this season of your life. Your today is not the final answer for your tomorrow.

Whatever you are, your future is coming!

Deanna

*Just had to share another serving of one of my favorite posts.*

Read Full Post »

Everyone is so busy during this time of year. Christmas will be here faster than three shakes of a reindeer’s antlers!

Expectations are piling up.

There is holiday baking to finish and presents to purchase.

Cards to be addressed and gifts to wrap.

Travel arrangements to plan and recipes to find.

So much to do.

So many deadlines.

So few moments to savor the simple things.

Maybe this is why the Advent Calendar, with its tiny windows filled with daily greetings, simple drawings, and small prizes, appeals to us. It provides a respite from the craziness and reminds us exactly what the activity is all about.

As a small child, I recall the anticipation of waiting for each December morning to arrive, and gathering  around the calendar with my sisters. Mom assisted our tiny hands as we took turns opening another window on the Advent Calendar and marveled at its contents.

Nothing spectacular or amazing — just a simple celebration of family tradition.

I won’t keep you long today.  I want to offer you one simple phrase, from Richard Wagner, to carry you through “this most wonderful time of the year”  . . .

Joy is not in things; it is in us.”

Tuck this thought into your pocket and carry it with you everywhere you go — the joy you seek during this season can be found within.

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

Such a simple but powerful reminder. This post was originally published last year.  It’s still one of my favorites!

Read Full Post »

It’s not enough to rage against the lie . . .
you’ve got to replace it with the truth.”
[Bono]

Look at the person sitting across the lunch table today. If you’re in Ohio, chances are one of you didn’t vote.

In case you have missed the avalanche of political ads that have blazed across our televisions screens the last few weeks . . . or  avoided the talking heads discussing the candidates and issues and parties . . . or still think Tea Party only refers to an event in Boston Harbor we studied in History Class, today marks election day across the country.

People are angry. They’re fed up with no jobs and high taxes. A national government filled with people who pass bills without reading them and from which they, themselves, are exempt. Some constituents are even threatening to unseat the ?&*#! incumbents and put the President on a Performance Improvement Plan. We’ve drawn a line in the sand and said enough is enough.

But not everyone.

In fact, barely a majority of Ohioans are expected to put forth the effort to vote today. Only 52% of registered voters care enough about the future to take the time to do a little research about the candidates and issues, and then actually cast their ballot. Seriously?

I’m fed up with the whole ball of political whacks, too. Is one party any better than the other? Well, it depends on who you ask.  However, I’m probably speaking for a majority of citizens who are just sick and tired with the entire system and especially with the people who keep it running.

But I’m not about to let political foolishness silence my voice.

Every election is my chance to hit it out of the park by participating in one of the coolest gigs anywhere — helping choose who will hold positions of power in our government. Every time I vote I feel blessed and honored to have been born in a country where I’m given this right and allowed to safely exercise it.

In a lot of ways, though, politics is like life. How many times do we fail to take action, speak up, or do the research because we feel hopeless? We convince ourselves it’s too much energy, it doesn’t matter, things will always stay the same, what we want doesn’t count.

And in the end, what we get is a future looks surprisingly like our present, but not quite as glamorous (and usually with higher taxes).

Is that what you want?  More of the same?  Because that’s what will happen if  you are content with sitting around complaining while refusing to take action — whether in the political arena or in your own life.

Whatever you are, step up to the plate and be one of the 52% who are willing to put in the effort and make a difference.

Deanna

www.StevensCreativeConsulting.com

Read Full Post »

I hold myself to a high standard. You have to.
You have to aim for perfection.”
~ James Laurinaitis

Except for cheering on the Ohio State Buckeyes Football Team, I must admit that I’m not much of a sports fan.  So, I’m not sure what prompted me to flip through the sports section of USA Today recently.  Perhaps it was the headline that included the name “James Laurinaitis.” For those who may not know, Laurinaitis served as a team captain at OSU in 2007-2008, the seventh member of the Buckeyes to be elected captain twice in a career.

After OSU, the linebacker was drafted by the St. Louis Rams where he started all 16 games and set a franchise record for a first year player by making 146 tackles (98 unassisted), two sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and breaking up seven passes. Obviously, this guy is a playmaker.

What is his secret?  It’s simple — be in the right position to make the play.  You thought it would be more than that?  Nope. That’s it.

“Laurinaitis understands the link between preparation and performance. He might not always make the play, but he is intent on being in position to make it [Pedulla].”

Laurinaitis says, ” You are going to make mistakes. That is part of the game. I was crazy out of position sometimes. It happens.”

And I started thinking how many times in my life I missed an opportunity simply because I was out of position. Maybe not in the literal sense of being on a “playing field,” but mentally I was somewhere else. I wasn’t in the moment as they like to say.

Thinking about the future, or the past, or someone or something else, but failing to recognize the great thing that was staring at me — begging me to open the door.

Or, I discounted the opportunity because it wasn’t flashy or exciting or fun or didn’t look profitable.

Or, I suffered through a difficult situation, grumbling and complaining — calling it a waste of time or a set-back, when in actuality it was a time of preparation, something to help me conquer a not-yet-revealed possibility.

I think the idea of “being in position” is about doing the work so you know what position to be in, when to be there, and how to proactively take control of events.

It’s about being prepared to turn the tables on unfortunate or unexpected situations.

Taking advantage of every encounter — whether standing in line at the grocery or standing on stage in front of a large crowd.

Putting your best foot forward and doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

Not letting the actions or apathy or accusations of others force you out of where you’re supposed to be.

Want to be a playmaker? Ask yourself where you are in relation to where you need to be and then get moving.  What are you waiting for?

Whatever you are, make sure you’re in the right position to make the play!

Deanna

Stevens Creative Consulting

Read Full Post »

Be fabulous and don’t let any one thing ruin your life.”
~ Kylee Halko,

Awesome advice, don’t you think?  Especially when you consider it was offered by a seven-year-old who suffers with Progeria.

 

Kylee with her parents and Barbara Walters.

For those who might not know, Progeria is a rare, fatal genetic condition characterized by an appearance of accelerated aging in children. Signs include growth failure, loss of body fat and hair, aged-looking skin, stiffness of joints, hip dislocation, generalized atherosclerosis, cardiovascular (heart) disease and stroke. Children with Progeria die of atherosclerosis (heart disease) at an average age of thirteen years.

Kylee’s life is certainly not what most of us would consider the optimal circumstances to be fabulous.  Most of us encounter far fewer obstacles and look forward to a much brighter future. Yet too often we are unable to muster the energy to be fabulous. Why is that?

How many times do we unnecessarily allow one failure, one disappointment, or one unexpected detour ruin our entire life?

Well, maybe not our entire life, but certainly affect things for far too long of a stretch. We moan and complain and exclaim to anyone who will listen how “Life’s Not Fair!”  Okay, I’ll give you that — life isn’t fair. So what?

Why do we let the negativity and stress and ugliness take control? Why do we feel compelled to become just another victim of random circumstances?

If you don’t like what you’ve been handed, why not recycle it into something else? You can if you want to — changing your present starts with changing your attitude.

How about just being fabulous regardless of the madness swirling around you?  Determine to rise above and be your very best self — in spite of what is being thrown your way, or what the future looks like, or what the doctors say. Why not embrace an attitude that is exceptionally good, marvelous, and superb? Laugh at your unfair life.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past . . . we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.

We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

And so it is with you . . . we are in charge of our attitudes.”
[Charles Swindoll].

Whatever life hands you, be fabulous in spite of it!

Deanna

Read Full Post »

I came across an article in USA Today entitled, Chasing Dreams of Doggy Stardom. It was an interesting look into what it takes for a dog to make it in Hollywood. And it’s not what you might think!

The focus was on veteran Hollywood trainer Mark Harden, who shared that the type of dog best-suited for on-screen work are those who make the most challenging pets.

“Your obedient King Charles Cavalier, who sits on command and never shreds a shoe, would most likely be best-suited for cuddling, not cutting up on camera.”

Harden stated he gets as many of his dogs as possible from shelters, looking for intelligent animals with “winner” mentalities who have been abandoned for being too spirited and generally unmanageable. They have a relentless tenacity that many two-legged individuals can’t stomach, but works on-screen.

A lot of these dogs wouldn’t work in a lot of people’s homes,” Harden says.

Not that it’s the dog’s fault. But something in their upbringing has made them a failed pet. Every day, they’ve won. They’ve succeeded in barking like crazy when they want, eating dirt when they want, ruining furniture. Whatever their misbehavior, they think they’re successful.

Of course, it ends them up in the pound, but they think they’re winners, and those are the dogs we like to get.”

I don’t know about your life story, but mine has a chapter or two where folks told me I didn’t belong in their house, and abandoned me at the “pound.”

Not one to sit quietly and cuddle on a lap, I was labeled “too much this” or “not enough that.” In my attempt to destroy bad practices, dig-up disrespectful behavior, or “bark” at unethical actions, I was deemed too spirited and unmanageable.

No matter. I would rather be a star than a pet any day.

And just recently I was reminded of how easy it is for leaders to abandon people on their teams who won’t sit quietly and do as they’re told. Instead of making an effort to harness the creative energy and develop potential, they drop the challenging ones off at the pound. (Either literally or figuratively.)

These leaders aren’t looking for stars; they’re looking for lap dogs.

Where are the leaders who are willing to transform pound puppies into valuable jewels and create teams that change the world?

Maybe it’s just too hard.  After all, it takes an investment of consistency, commitment, confidence, patience, and communication to reveal potential and uncover possibility.

It takes a star to recognize a star. And maybe that’s the problem. Many of today’s leaders aren’t stars — they’re so busy cuddling on the laps of their owners they fail to appreciate the star potential in others.

To share Apple’s well-known ad:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels.
The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things. They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
are the ones who do.

If this story were to have a moral it would be this: Even if you find yourself abandoned at the pound, you’re still a winner. Dream the dreams. Take the risk. Live the life!

Whatever you are, be a crazy one — be a star!

Deanna

[tweetmeme source= ‘deannacstevens’ only_single=false]

Read Full Post »

Don’t look back, they might be gaining on you.
~ Unknown

I was watching a news report recently about the U.S. Transplant Games.  For those who may not know, Transplant Games are open to anyone whose most recent lifesaving solid organ transplant— heart, liver, kidney, lung, pancreas and/or heterologous bone marrow— has been functioning for at least 6 months.

It was an inspiring tale of courage and staunch determination as images of racing athletes flashed across the television screen. What made the story even more compelling was that the only reason these games are even in existence is because a fellow human being was willing to literally donate a portion of themselves to benefit another.

Puts that $5 donation I made to the March of Dimes in perspective!

And although it was a wonderful report, it was the final few frames of the video that caught my eye.  In it, a small girl — perhaps 3 or 4 — was running on the track between events.

As young children like to do, the girl kept looking behind her as she ran, to see what was going on back there . . . who was watching her . . . who was gaining on her. (There were no other runners on camera so I’m not certain she was actually competing with anyone.)

The small runner tumbled a bit, and may have actually crossed the finish line, but would never have realized it because she wasn’t interested in where she was going. Her focus was on what was behind her.

There were some valuable life lessons in this short video clip.  Too often, we’re unimpressed in our own future. Unless someone else is following our progress or interested in our path, the journey looses its allure. Why is that?

Why are we fearful to travel our own path without approval.  Why does our life only have meaning if someone else says it does?

Why do we keep looking behind us?

What good does that serve?

Your life is not meant to be lived in competition with others. It was designed with you — your happiness, your satisfaction, your generosity, your gratitude — in mind.

Life won’t grade you on a curve, dependent on where the other guy placed.

Life doesn’t matter who is behind you or in front of you.  If they’re gaining on you or falling behind.

Who cares what is going on back there — behind you.

Run your own race. Set your own pace. The key to a fulfilling life, according to Ann Landers, is to “look ahead, that is where your future lies.”

Whatever you are, don’t look back!

Deanna

Read Full Post »

Late last month, “Jungle” Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, encountered a family of grizzly bears while hiking in Glacier National Park.

You may have seen Jack on The Late Show with David Letterman where he regularly visits and brings along a menagerie of exotic and dangerous animals. Or, perhaps, caught Jack’s appearance on an educational program as he humorously shares the wonders of our planet.  Regardless, Jack lives, breathes, and sleeps animals. They are his passion, his mission.

But stumbling upon a family of wild bears is another matter entirely. Without a script or camera crew, interns or producers, this wasn’t your typical walk in the park. It was survival of the fittest.

One of the 125 pound cubs started charging toward him and a group of hikers, and then, Jack said,  everything happened so fast.

Just like the insurance commercial proclaims, it’s true that life comes at you fast!

Fortunately, Jack was able to fend off the attack with a few well-timed blasts of pepper spray.  The experience shook him up a bit — although he has carried the spray for more than 15 years, it was the first time in his career he ever needed to use the deterrent.

When asked by a reporter for advice he would give to other hikers finding themselves in similar circumstances, Jack replied, “Don’t be afraid. Be prepared.”

Wonderful advice for all of us — whatever our own brand of “angry bear family” looks like. The time to wonder if you’ll be able to handle the unexpected is not at the moment of confrontation — when your life, future, and dreams are on the line.

The time of preparation occurs in the hours, days, weeks, and months when you’re practicing and packing and plodding along.

No lights. No cameras. No cheers or accolades.
Just a relentless pursuit of the goal.

So that when the time comes — and trust me, it will,
when you round the corner on the trail and meet the angry bears,
when life calls upon you to prove your mettle,
you’ll be able to spring into action — instead of recoil in fear.

Don’t wait for tomorrow — the time to prepare is now. Otherwise, as Benjamin Franklin said,

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Whatever you are, be prepared!

Deanna

Read Full Post »

The words “I am” are potent words;
be careful what you hitch them to.
The thing you’re claiming
has a way of reaching back and claiming you.
~A.L. Kitselman

The other day, I was asked a simple question, “What do you do, exactly?”  In essence, the writer of the email was asking who I am, what am I all about, and how do I do it?

On the face of it, I should have been able to spout out an answer in 30 seconds flat.  In fact, my mind started racing with all the “things” I am and “things” I do. A list of possible answers appeared.  Multiple choice.

You’ve been there. The directions state, “Select the top 3 choices that best answer the question.”

TOP 3?  These types of tests always cause a bit of panic. Because not all the answers on the list are wrong. Some are just more “correct” than others.

You start by crossing off the obviously incorrect answers.  And then you attack the list again, selecting the top 5 to begin weeding out the contenders.  But what about this one you didn’t select. It’s like number 5.5 — really, it could be equal with 5.  Oh, dear. The selecting and re-selecting and trying to anticipate can drive one a bit mad.

Just like life!

Who you are is defined by your choices, your actions. It is not defined by the car you drive, your address, the labels you wear, your marital status, political affiliation, position in life, title, or heritage.

The effects of your vacation destinations, coiffed hair, affiliations, education, and polished resume vanish like a mist if character is missing from the equation.

Who you are is not defined by the elections you’ve won, the stages you’re invited to speak from, the books you write, or programs you broadcast.

Who you are is what you do when life gets messy and people are illogical. What you think about during those quiet times — outside of the spotlight. How you react when life is throwing lemons. Do you take responsibility or find someone else to blame?

Your response to those who are in no position to repay or propel you forward or open doors for you.   Are you known for your kind benevolence, grace, and dignity or by your malice and disdain?

The way you conduct yourself when others are standing in your way.  Where do you step? On others to get what you want, or into the role of a mentor to help them get what they want?

Do you build up or tear down. Include or exclude? Help or sabotage?

That’s who you are.

And people can see it. Regardless what you advertise about yourself.

As Paul Vitale says, “What we do flows from who we are.”

Whatever you are, if you don’t like who you are, change what you do!

Deanna

Read Full Post »

One thing I hate:  the overuse of the word hero.

For those of you unfamiliar with the rules, a hero is not a musician or entertainer or sports figure simply because her music is awesome or his dance moves are amazing or the score was record-breaking — those are idols.

A hero is a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.  Think of soldiers, police officers, fire fighters, social policy game changers, and many others whose names history records but the public forgets. They are rarely promoted by glitzy ads or high-priced marketing firms. Their acts speak for themselves and validate the title of hero.  Like the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who thwarted a fourth attack targeted for the White House.

One thing I love: reading magazine interviews. It’s not necessary for me to know the person being interviewed (and often I do not). I find the simple back and forth rhythm of question and response intoxicating. Without a writer to misinterpret or mold the responses into a clever piece of prose, the simple or ranting or complicated answers provide a rare and honest look into the psyche of the interviewee.

And the more clever the question and original the response, the more enjoyable the interview.

So, it was with great delight that I came across an interview conducted by dwell magazine with Mexico-City based industrial designer Emilano Godoy, during which Godoy was asked to name his antihero.

His response?  “Lee Iacocca.”

Immediately I stopped reading.  Here was an answer I was not expecting! Twenty years later, what in the world could this Mexico-based designer still have against a former leader of the Chrysler Corporation?

I attempted to unravel the mystery. Does Godoy hate American Enterprise? Was he still holding a grudge against the uninspired design of the K-Car? (If true, who could successfully argue against his point?) Was he dumping the effects of global warming at the doorstep of the rust belt?  The explanation wasn’t that pedestrian.

I looked back at the page to find the rest of Godoy’s response, “So much talent going into the wrong industry.”

And there you have it. To Godoy his antihero was identified by an individual who was failing to fully exploit his talent.

And then I started wondering what Iacocca could have accomplished if he had attempted a different challenge. What field might he have selected, and how would history remember this man if he had?

I did some research and discovered that according to dictionary.com, an antihero is not necessarily an enemy, it is a main character who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure.  They are void of such things as nobility of mind and spirit, idealism, courage, or a life marked by action or purpose.

They may have the spotlight,
but they are not living a life fully worthy of the applause.

Perhaps fear or the expectations of others causes them to live far beneath their potential. Maybe they have tried and failed so many times, that their spirit is crippled and their courage has evaporated. Regardless of the reason, there are far too many of us living a life void of action and purpose.

We have become a society of antiheroes. This should not be. We are greater than this!

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark,
in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite,
the not-yet, the not-at-all.
Do not let the hero in your soul perish,
in lonely frustration for the life you deserved,
but have never been able to reach.
Check your road and the nature of your battle.
The world you desired can be won,
it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.
~ Ayn Rand

Whatever you are, be a hero!

Deanna

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »