Independence Inspired Success

This coming weekend here in the US we’re celebrating the Fourth of July, or Independence Day, the day that congress declared independence from Great Britain. With all the talk that’s already been happening around the holiday I thought today I’d share some success insights based on this holiday.

It started with courage. It wasn’t easy at the time to choose to leave the safety of Britain, it wasn’t easy to start over in a completely foreign place without any of the resources that you’re used to having access to, it wasn’t easy to figure out a completely new place and the nature-based challenges that came along with it. So it took great courage for not only the first couple groups of people to head over to the US, but also for all people through Independence Day and the American Revolutionary War to choose this new and developing nation.

It continued with teamwork. The only reason the signers of the Declaration of Independence were able to do so, is because they had the foundation from the people who originally colonized the US, as well as the support of all who were alive and part of the revolution in the 1770’s. Each of the men who put pen to paper, each of the men and women who fought in one way or another to make that independence a reality, to the children who were given the opportunity to live in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave,” are all part of this team and the motivation behind these people coming together to take a stand.

It is still a work in progress. Any good victory starts with one step of success. Independence Day was one of the steps in the long journey of the US, a journey we’re still on today. No, we’re not still working on our independence, but we sure have a ton of kinks we’re still working on as we develop our nation, just like other nations around the world who have been around for much longer than the US.

So as we continue to navigate 2020 it’s more important than ever to look back at 1776 and the first Independence Day, and remember what it was that helped it succeed, because those same things can help us succeed in bringing this country to the next peak on its journey.

Ready for a Fresh Start

We’ve finished 5 months of 2020, although they felt more like at least a year in and of themselves. Of course with finishing another month means we’ve entered into a new one. I love fresh starts and new months because we sometimes do get stuck in ruts and need a little help, psychological or physical or otherwise, to get out and moving again. It’s particularly interesting because we’re really beginning to emerge from months of being stuck at home to fight or avoid the virus, and now restrictions are being lifted and slowly we’re able to get back to a level of business as usual over the next few months.

Fresh starts don’t mean that the past can be erased or forgotten. On my other blog today I referenced the phrase “you can forgive someone but not forget their actions.” The past couple of months have been painful on many levels, pain that most of us alive today haven’t experienced before. With the events of George’s mistreatment and death, plus the unacceptable deaths of other African Americans over the past few weeks, months and years related to racism or inaccurate racial profiling, the pain has reached a new point as we enter this new month. We clearly haven’t won the war on racism yet, and regardless of how some people are acting today, we haven’t beaten the virus yet either (just take a look at the news and the many thousand new cases that have appeared in our country and other countries around the world today alone).

So where do we go from here with our brand shiny new month? I think we start by remembering that we don’t have to do life alone. That means that we support each other with our ears and hearts as we listen, with our bank accounts as we buy the products and services others sell, and physically supporting each other in whatever ways and whenever it’s safe to do so. There’s no rule that says we have to go big or go home with life right now, it’s going to be the small but steady steps we take in truly learning to work together as a community, hearing the issues we each have, truly caring about the issues we each have, and being willing to work a little harder so we all have win-win-win experiences whenever possible.

Life wasn’t perfect 4 months ago, and it won’t be perfect 4 months from now. But we can choose with each new day to make that day as good as or better than the day before. Choose to do one kind act for someone, choose to do one thing that will help the economy start moving again, choose to do one thing that will make your future better each and every day. We may have our own individual dreams and goals in life, but no one should ever think or feel that they’re alone, because they’re not.  We’re all part of this world together.

Choices of Business, Leadership and Humanity

Being in business means several things.  It means that you need to be making money or able to make money from what you’re doing/selling, or be compensated/supported in some way for the time you’ve put in to cover your costs (non-profits).  That doesn’t mean you have to be a huge company with lots of employees raking in a ton of money every year, just that you need to be able to not only cover expenses for the business but those of yourself and any other people who own the business and have at least a little profit for everyone.  Second, there has to be a need met through the business.  Maybe it’s not a super necessary need like hospitals or plumbers, but it has to fulfill a need for potential customers like providing marketing support, creating packaging for their products to be shipped in, or being a form of entertainment or stress relief or being a source of pleasure for example.
Those two points are basic business wisdom, they hold true in all industries and all situations.  Right now the world isn’t normal, so there are fewer needs in the world, which means if they aren’t businesses that meet a variety of essential needs, they need to adapt to be able to meet a need in the world and/or they need to decide how they’re going to show up while they wait for the world to return to some version of normal.  This week I read a bit of wisdom from Neale Donald Walsch.  He’s well known for his collection of books about his conversations with God, something that he felt led to share with the world from a spiritual perspective and has worked out well for him from a business perspective as well.  In this little bit of wisdom he questioned who we want to be during this time.  So my question to you is three fold:
1-how is your business showing up to the world now and how do you want it to show up in the future?
2-how are you showing up in the world as a leader right now, and how do you want to lead in the future?  
3-how are you showing up in the world as a human right now, and how do you want to live in the future?
Maybe after serious consideration you’re happy with where everything is/has been, and while you will do some adapting to meet the current environment and changes the transition we’re going through won’t force you to make changes, so you’re just going to ride it out now. Maybe after serious consideration you’ve realized that you’re saying one thing and doing another and that’s changing now and going to stay different in the future.  Maybe after serious consideration you’ve realized that you’ve completely gone off the deep end and need a redo, and you’re going to get started on that now before the world gets completely back online.  Or maybe you’re generally a strong business/good leader/supportive human, but you’ve been completely thrown off by this whole experience.   We’re all experiencing this differently even though we’re going through it together so each of our answers will be different, but as leaders and business owners I do believe we’ve got the responsibility and opportunity to show up with empathy, strength and courage.  No, we should not fake it, but rather choose not to go down the spiral and further add to people’s stress, confusion, frustration and struggle right now, we should be the best leader, business owner and human we can be.  What lessons are you learning as a leader through this virus experience?

Courageous Choices

Today the Jewish community is celebrating the holiday of Purim. It’s the celebration of the life of Esther, who became queen of Persia many years ago and pleaded with her husband the king to save her people (the Jews) from a persecution plan by an evil man, and in successfully saving the Jewish people and herself, she became one of the biggest women heroes/figures in that time of history. It’s a story that those of the Christian faith are familiar with as well, there’s a whole book in the Bible dedicated to it. As I was writing my spiritual newsletter about the story of Purim this week, and thinking about International Women’s Day on Sunday, today I thought we’d talk about what this story teaches us about success and being our best self.

One of the biggest parts of who Esther was and why she did what she did was that it had to do with something she passionately believed in. If her faith wasn’t so important to her, she may not have put her life on the line. What do you believe in? What’s most important to you in life? Does your life reflect that? Are you investing in and protecting those things like Esther did?

As much as Esther had a deep belief in her faith, it’s important to consider whether she would have spoken to the king or not simply because of how many people’s lives were on the line. If there are hundreds if not thousands of lives on the line, and you’ve got the ability to speak up and make a difference, you should! Staying silent is how we end up with people falsely imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit, genocides of whole people groups, and hate between groups/races/cultures that builds and lasts for decades if not hundreds of years.

Standing up for what’s right or wrong like Esther did takes courage and strength of character. Sometimes it takes more courage than other times, but if we all chose to live lives that are even a little more conscious, considerate and courageous, we’d be able to get the world to a healthy and happier place a lot sooner. Being courageous about something or someone that is important to you gives you incredible confidence and gives you power that you can’t tap into through any way except by being your best version of yourself.

So what about you? Are you stepping up for what’s important to you? Are you taking time to truly listen to all the people in your lives, and give them the respect they deserve as fellow humans? Some things are as bizarre as they sound, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t true, which is why it’s important to do even a little research if something could be as serious as it’s being presented.  Are you living a courageous life?

The Courage to Explore

So today in the US is the day known as Columbus Day. It was named in honor of Christopher Columbus, an explorer from Italy in the late 1400’s. In recent years it’s become a bit of a different holiday because questions have been raised about what’s true and what’s not true about the stories we’ve all been told and about what kind of person Columbus was. I understand the desire in not wanting to honor someone who took people as slaves or took their gold or didn’t do what they are being honored as having done.

However, in the late 1400’s a man named Christopher Columbus did indeed take 4 sea voyages between Italy and the Caribbean with a crew of other people. While it may seem like nothing these days with our planes and cruise ships, in Columbus’ time, it was a day and age when people thought really long and hard about taking even one trip from one side of the ocean to the other, let alone 4 round trip voyages. His efforts as well as the efforts of the other explorers of his time really encouraged others to colonize North America. So if you’re really offended by calling it Columbus Day, maybe it should be Explorer’s Day, honoring all the men (and women) who were brave enough to get on boats and travel to the ends of the earth when it was so incredibly dangerous and risky.

Some people struggle with why we study history and why we need to learn all these dates and about all of these people from hundreds or thousands of years ago. They can understand a little of the application of math or science classes even with the advances of technology, but history just doesn’t make sense (after all we don’t try to paint the Sistine Chapel or build a Gothic cathedral every day). One of the biggest things we can take from history is regarding the bravery, courage, skill, expertise, and effort of countless people in helping to transform their world to the world we know today. No, they weren’t perfect, but neither are we, and we’re still trying to right wrongs and figure out how to work together in this world that we all share.

So today I encourage you to be brave like Christopher Columbus and the other explorers and go out and do some exploring as well. Explore your neighborhood, your community, your state. Explore new things with your partner and your family. Explore new hobbies and passions. Are you ready to be brave and explore?

Ready to Run

One of the questions you hear most frequently from police officers is “why did you run”? Sometimes there’s an understandable reason like they killed someone or stole a ton of money and don’t want to get the really long jail sentence they’re looking at. But more often than not it’s inconsequential, nonexistent, or certainly not worth the extra charges they get for running. When you hear the stories you have to shake your head, especially after you hear again and again that they would have maybe gotten a little ticket had they just pulled over and behaved.

The truth is that running rarely pays. Yet we seem to pick running as a default in many areas of our lives, not just when faced with police. We run from hard situations at work, from relationships that need work, family situations that frustrate us, and homes that need some TLC just to name a few. Yes, sometimes running is the right answer and we should run as fast as we can, for example in abusive relationships, but often we choose to run rather than put in the time and effort to fix things. And there’s nothing wrong with needing a fresh start, but it’s not a good reason for running.

Of course the best advice is to not do anything that will get you into a situation that would inspire you to run like committing a crime or letting any situation in your life get so bad you just want to throw in the towel. Sometimes we just get overwhelmed, and that’s OK. But when we’re starting to feel overwhelmed it’s time to ask for help, to stand up and accept the situation we’ve gotten ourselves into, to stop putting off dealing with the situation, to start taking actions however small to conquer the situation rather than running from it. I encourage you to choose courage today and face your life and the people in it and choose to build a better future.

Endings Aren’t The End

Just about everyone is done with this school year and moving on to whatever is next for them. This also means that some adults are moving on to other jobs after their contracts have ended, and others are moving on because the company has changed or they have changed. Endings are part of life even if we don’t want them to be, but it seems like these days more than ever we’re facing more endings because life changes and moves much quicker than it used to.

Sometimes an ending in and of itself is all you’re meant to do, for example when it comes to drugs (you don’t want to end your “relationship” with one drug just to move on to another one). Sometimes you may not feel like moving on quite yet (like if your heart is broken you may not feel like getting into a new romantic relationship).  But more often than not, an ending happens with the idea that something is coming next, like looking for a new job or starting a business after you lose your job.

It’s healthy to be able to move on in life. We shouldn’t be trapped by the past, stuck in our mistakes or limited by who we used to be. Life isn’t about endings, it’s about growing, learning, exploring, and thriving. And we can’t do those things without having some endings in our lives, even if those endings scare us a bit or bring us through a period of upheaval and frustration. So go ahead and celebrate the endings you are experiencing right now, and look excitedly to what the future could hold. The only way the future can be worse than the past is if you let it be or give up on life and living.

“Why would I retire? Sit at home and watch TV? No thanks. I’d rather be out playing.” Paul McCartney

Comfortable Changes

How do you handle those conversations with your partner when they want to talk about things they want or feel are lacking in your relationship? I had a conversation with someone about this during the past week and it got me thinking about how we can overcome the challenges we personally may face if we’re asked by our partner to make a change or do something different.

While the first emotion you may feel is gratitude that your partner is finally sharing their concerns, fears or desires, the emotions that may closely follow are guilt, fear, and panic. It’s never easy to realize that you’ve been failing in some way on something or not being everything your partner needs. But that’s not necessarily what the conversation means, because it may not be about you failing to do something, but about something new your partner wants or needs or wants to try. If you’re in a healthy relationship, it should be an opening conversation, a beginning of a discussion, not a requirement or hard line.

Change and growth are natural parts of a healthy relationship. So what it you do feel overwhelmed by the request or the conversation? Instead of trying to conquer the mountain in one jump, pick something that’s easier for you to work up the courage or confidence to get to that point, or at least try to get to that point. Showing that you’re trying will mean a lot to them and may give them the immediate positive reinforcement they need to regain their confidence in your relationship and encourage you and work with you on trying to incorporate their requests or feedback into your relationship. It will also give you the courage and strength to keep going and working on their requests or feedback.

For example let’s say they are bored with what you all typically have for food options in the house and everyone needs to eat healthier, but you don’t really like fruits or vegetables. So don’t dive into trying the ones you know you don’t like, start with incorporating more of the ones you do like into your diets and pantry. Let’s say they want to do more and get in shape. Instead of trying to be ironman or woman, start with walking or swimming or whatever fitness activity you are OK with.

That first step may be a little intimidating, but it’s way less challenging than trying to go all the way from day 1. What tips do you have for working through conversations with your partner?

A Case of Curiosity and Creativity

March is full of interesting people’s birthdays, including Einstein and Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel).  I know most people don’t grow up thinking about theories of relativity or trying to make rhymes into stories, or becoming a household name and yet these two men did exactly that.  Both are fairly normal paths of success, writing and science aren’t weird or wrong, they’re legitimate fields of interest.  Part of the reason that they stand out so much though is because they did exactly what those fields are about: they made discoveries and brought words to life.

So what can we take away from the lives of these two men? First and foremost that even if you’re “trapped” in something very conventional and normal, that doesn’t mean you can’t put your spin on it and make it your own.  Yes, sometimes you’re called to do bigger and different things than you’re involved in now, but often it just means that you need to get a little more creative with regards to what you’re involved in and see if you can’t work a little magic in your current situations before giving up.  Second, which directly ties in with that, invest in being creative and curious throughout your life.  Creativity and curiosity aren’t things you give up like most people give up their dolls and stuffed animals when they reach a certain age, they’re skills that can greatly benefit you throughout your life if you’re willing to tap into them.

As we finish up this week and head into the next one I encourage you to explore your life.  I know that sounds kind of funny, but so often we get caught up in the story we tell ourselves, the habits we have and the often narrow way we see our world and lives and we don’t see the reality of our life or what’s waiting for us just outside of our normal life boundaries and beliefs.  Take the time to get creative and be curious about what else your life holds and you could tap into or could help you get the breakthrough you’ve been missing.

We Are All

In case you missed it there was a really big football game this past weekend.  It was a huge upset and a huge shock to many people.  However, there are people who experienced some serious stress during the game but remained fully confident in their team, and were able to experience a huge victory.  Who are these people? Patriot fans.

While I can’t say that the Patriots are “my team”, I have to respect their team, their coaches and their quarterback(s) who have come together time and again to create some incredible results.  I know from talking with Patriot fans how dedicated their team is, how hard they work and how much passion and energy they put into this organization that they are committed to.  They’ve fought against some serious challenges the past few years and bad press from those who don’t like their success or because they may have tried to bend the rules.  I’m not here to place or suggest guilt or innocence.  That’s a whole different conversation that we’re not having today.

Today what we’re talking about is a slogan that I saw after the game: “We Are All Patriots.”  I don’t know of any true Patriot’s fan who doubted them or gave them up as a result of the challenges of the past few years.  They’ve remained loyal to them, and this year their loyalty was rewarded in a big way.

But this really speaks to a bigger conversation, how we all identify with each other.  Do you see that we’re all one people?  We can all break our bones, work a job, love someone, or enjoy a laugh.  Whether we’re black or white, police or civilian, PhD or high school graduate, dog lover or cat lover, parent or not, or TV buff or not, we are all human.  You can’t change that unless you change your body and DNA and that’s not a direction science has been working in that I know of.  We all have differences, yes.  But when it comes down to it there’s a very high probability that you want the same thing I do: to get through tomorrow alive, to be loved, to enjoy life more and to have more time with the people we love.

So congratulations to the Patriots, and I encourage you to think about the community, the state, the country that you belong to and how you’re helping make it a better place to live in for everyone.