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.

Speak or Suffer

Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He’s best known for his leadership in the Civil Rights movement in the 50’s and 60’s, and his “I have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington.  He was a great man, a brave man, a wise man, a family man and a community man.  He believed in something that wasn’t a reality then and he may not have really believed it would come true in his lifetime.  I do wonder what/if things would have been different if he had lived and had not been assassinated.

One of the reasons Dr. King was so well loved and respected then and now is because of who he was and what he believed.  He didn’t sit down and accept that because he was a black dude he should be treated as less than any other man.  It’s great he was part of the movement at all, and there are certainly other ways he could have been involved.  But Dr. King knew as a leader that it was his responsibility to be in front.  Yes, others could have stepped up but he knew that part of his purpose was to be a leader in this movement.

The same is true for our lives, we all have purposes to fulfill and steps to take in our lives.  I believe we should all do better in stepping up for ourselves and each other.  We need to do more to stand up for what we believe and not let others trample on our rights as a human.  I also think we should take note of the non-violent way that Dr. King made an impact.  He had a huge impact that is still talked about today without ever raising a fist or using a weapon like a gun or knife.

I believe our world is greatly improved by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the other men and women who chose to stand up for what they believed in.  What will you choose to stand up for today?

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

A Job Well Done?

Today I’m writing from a friend’s kitchen.  I’m seeing the inside of their house for the first time after they began a big renovation a year or so ago.  As I walked through the house I looked for places and spaces that would connect me with the old house, because they built up and around the old one.  Now, I don’t know all the details and do know that there were some issues that delayed the finish, but I was surprised how much of the house wasn’t done yet.  Painting, area rugs and furniture I could understand, but I can’t understand the missing back splash in the kitchen, a missing shower door and temporary fixtures in a bathroom.

As we talk about health this month one of the important areas of our lives to talk about is our work lives.  Whether you look at it from the perspective of owning a business or working for someone else, I would not feel good about leaving the house in the condition that it is in and calling the job complete.  Yes, I would be proud of what has been accomplished so far, but not as satisfied or proud of what it could be if the job had really been completed.  I’m not talking about perfection here, but about completing the entire task to the best of your ability, being able to look at what should be the finished product and be satisfied with the work I have done.

I believe it’s important to be proud of the work you do and to celebrate the work you do.   Too many people don’t seem to get any recognition for a job well done, even if they were doing just what they were asked to do.  But I believe all of it should be celebrated, not just the big stuff or the stuff done by the big bosses.  But you can’t celebrate what isn’t complete or what isn’t done well, it’s just not right.  We don’t celebrate when we get some of the cancer or beat 20% of the other teams in the league, we celebrate most when all of the cancer is gone or beat all the other teams, because we know we’ve done our best and accomplished what we set out to do. So I guess the question is are you satisfied with what you have done and what you’re doing in your life or are you dragging through the day because you don’t have any pride for what you’re doing?  If you aren’t satisfied what are you going to do or think different to change that?

Confidence Building Celebrations

Like much of the world I’m thinking about the Olympics today.  I love how it brings people and countries together regardless of language, location, sex or economic status.  It’s a chance for all kinds of people to show their particular athletic abilities and show off some country pride too.  Events like the Olympics are a chance for the world to put aside differences and disagreements and instead focus on encouraging each other and raising each other up.

Yes, there is a sense of pride for those who win, both the people and their country, but it’s fun to celebrate all winners because regardless of where you and they call home, as they’ve accomplished a feat that most of us couldn’t begin to do whether it be swimming so fast, running so far or hitting a target. Plus you’ve got all of the challenges the athletes have had to overcome and victories they’ve had to achieve in their personal lives to get to this point.

It’s important to share our gifts and talents with the world, and just as important to recognize the good things each of us can do.  It’s such a simple thing to tune in to the Olympics, to cheer at a little league game or celebrate when your kids get a good grade, but it’s so important to not only recognize the good they’ve done, but encourage them to continue doing their best.

This week I encourage you to step up in your regular life and recognize the people around you and the gifts they have.  Celebrate with them their accomplishments.  It may be challenging for you to do if you’re losing out on a position you were hoping to get that they got, or when they got a house when you’ve lost out on several, or got pregnant when you’ve been trying so hard.  Sometimes we have to wait (patiently) for our chance to celebrate, other times we’re the first ones celebrating.  What will you celebrate this week?

“What a gift it is when we can inspire others to have courage and to hope, when we can raise another’s confidence, when we can instill in them life and energy and vigor. How important it is for us to express care for one another regularly and explicitly, to commend and cherish one another, to work actively to build up [each other] by our words and actions, and not to undermine its health by bitterness and complaining.”  Br. David Vryhof

The Business of Big Ideas

Today I’m thinking about the big, bold ideas that we always wish we could pull off.  Most of us are really good at coming up with great ideas that are cool or interesting or could help others or make us lots of money, but not always ideas that are big or bold or have the potential to make a huge impact on the world.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the world needs the little ideas and little things as well. We wouldn’t live as we do without the “simple” doctors offices, secretaries, farmers, police/military and cleaning people.  Simple doesn’t mean not important, and you know that without some of those people we’d die a lot quicker.  So don’t give up on the simple ideas, the ideas that make things easier for you, make you simply a little happier, or make things work in harmony better.  Those are really important ideas and we need more of them.

So what’s so great about big ideas anyway?  For one they’re impressive.  We are attracted to things that are big and bold and catch our attention. But what about from a business perspective?  Big ideas are great at catching people’s attention and getting them talking about us too.  But they’re also great for sharing and bringing to life visions and missions that we have in our businesses.  Big ideas are great, but when they’re big ideas that are in support of or part of visions and missions that are core to our businesses they become much more powerful.

But big ideas and missions and visions are only as powerful as the follow through.  On paper or discussions they’re great, but without coming up with a plan on how to bring them to life they’re just ideas or nice words. And we know that ideas and nice words aren’t just what customers want to hear.  They want to see or feel or experience results too.

So what if you don’t have big ideas?  Just because you have smaller and less grand ideas doesn’t mean you can’t support them with visions and missions or that you can’t you can’t present them with care, and attention to details.  As I said before small can matter, it’s just about whether you appreciate and present the value or not.   But, if you only have small ideas and want to think bigger, bringing a visionary (someone who does think in big ideas) in to join your team for a season is always an option.

This weekend I encourage you to think.  Take time to come up with big and small ideas that can support your business and customers and see if you can make them feasibly work for you and them.  Then pick the ones you like the most and seem the most feasible and get to work!

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”  Goethe

Thankful for Second Chances

Last night the US watched the last football game of the 2015-2016 season. A new top team has been given the trophy and signature rings. Do you know what else you could have watched yesterday? That’s right, the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet. I’m an animal lover and a big dog lover so whenever I hear about things like the Puppy Bowl I watch them or at the very least check them out online. As I was reviewing the puppy lineup last week before the big game I was struck not by how many cute dogs there were (which is what you would expect) but by the number of puppies that looked like scrappy, albeit victorious, little fighters.

I know that the Puppy Bowl is a great opportunity to adopt out some dogs (and the cats that run the half time show) from shelters around the US but usually at least half the team gives you the warm fuzzies. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be very happy to take any of those dogs home, but I wouldn’t be bringing these dogs home due to their overwhelming cuteness, which is what many people pick out their pets based on. Instead I’d bring one (or more) of these dogs home because of another factor: they remind me that we can overcome.

Each time I would look at one of these scrappy dogs I would be reminded of their start to life and how they were able to overcome whatever obstacles they faced. It wouldn’t be a bad reminder or one that would make me unhappy each time I saw the dog. No, it would be a grateful reminder. If something so little can survive and learn to thrive and love I can overcome whatever I face too.

What positive reminders do you have in your life?

Thankful for Heroes

Today in the USA is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s the day each year we take time to celebrate this brave man who led a charge for better civil rights for everyone and awareness of how poorly people were treated on basis on things like race. Why do we set aside time each year to honor some people but other people don’t get as much recognition? Is it because they didn’t make as big of a contribution or weren’t as revolutionary?  I don’t think that’s the case, and I think we should keep trying to make an impact regardless of whether we get a holiday in our honor or not.

First, everyone has value and can contribute to the world. That’s not to say that we all do. Some of us don’t tap into our courage or aren’t willing to do the work necessary to make the kind of contribution to the world like Dr. King did. You too can transform the world, and you can start today.

Second, just because you’re not a celebrity or included in the history books doesn’t mean you didn’t make an impact. Sometimes you’re only known for your contributions within your immediate community, whether it’s the community where you physically live or your online community. And just because you’re not a celebrity it’s not to say you’re not making a big impact.  Big is a matter of perspective. If you help one person step back from a ledge or get over a mountain you’ve done something amazing. Don’t try to make a difference for the purpose of being recognized.

Finally, I do want to take time to recognize the work of Dr. King. He stood for what he believed in, led with courage, inspired others and started a movement that transformed a nation. He should be recognized not only for what he stood for but for his ability to finally rally people around the injustice of judging on basis of color.

I’m thankful for people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who are willing to stand up for what they believe. What are you standing up for?

The Gift of Acceptance

It may be hard for you to hear, but you’re not perfect. Therein is one of the biggest challenges we face in our lives: accepting ourselves and each other regardless of imperfections, quirks, habits and interests. We all have things that we can (and should) work on and improve, but there are many things that will never change about who we are, nor will we ever be perfect as things stand now. Do you meet people and immediately look for things you would change or improve or don’t like, or do you look for ways that you’re similar or can relate to each other?

As parents or even just as adults we’ve got the gift of teaching kids that it’s OK to be yourself and have your own interests, and you don’t have to be the same as anyone or everyone else, nor do you have to be perfect to have a great life or be an amazing person. We’ve also got the challenge of accepting them for who they are, what they like and what they want to be (even if that changes dozens of times), along with all we do to shape our kids to be people who can contribute to the world in their own special ways and treat others with the same respect that they want to be treated with.

The biggest gift you may be able to give this holiday season could be to just accept someone else. It’s not your place to judge them (unless they ask for the critique), but it is your opportunity to give them the acceptance that they’ve maybe never had in their life before. If there has been someone in your past who has accepted you for who you are even when others didn’t make sure to send a ‘thank you’ their way before Thanksgiving. Let them know how much it meant or means to you to be accepted for who you are, faults, treasures and all.

“Thank you for accepting me as I am, with my virtues and defects.” Jenni Rivera

Tragedy and Triumph

The last week has brought much of the world to tears compounding on the tragedies that seem to have come one after another in the past few months and years. Today’s post is a business post so we won’t be talking about the situations per se, but rather about a few things that caught my attention over the last week in the business world that encouraged me that maybe there is hope for our world yet.

Last Wednesday brought two updates to my email inbox from Seth Godin and Mark Silver.  While I encourage you to go ahead and read their two short posts Seth Godin’s is all about people he has worked with or connected with who are making a difference in the world through their work, and Mark Silver’s is about the value of having a “Dropped Ball Policy” and understanding that sometimes things just don’t work out the way you hoped or thought they would.

So why would I shared these two posts with you?  Let’s start with Mark Silver’s post.  Mark’s post (and policy) acknowledges that no one is perfect and things don’t always get done and it’s OK.  But the other important aspect of the policy is that it assumes that what happened wasn’t because someone was lazy or didn’t care, but other factors were involved.  He believes that deep down we all care about what happens in our lives and what happens as a result of our actions (and want things to go well).

Seth Godin’s post is all about honoring those who do good work.  We all try to make our mark on the world and sometimes it happens that someone sees what we’ve done or what we’re trying to do and recognizes our efforts.  We’re not under obligation to celebrate what other people have done or are doing, but I believe that when we support each other, encourage each other and highlight the good work being done in the world we can all benefit.  Seth was under no requirement to share about those people and it doesn’t look like he gets any benefit (financial or otherwise) from sharing about them. He just wanted to celebrate what good people were doing.

So what about you?  How will you choose to go forward with your business?  Will you choose to isolate yourself to try to protect yourself from what could harm you or will you choose to go forward boldly knowing that mistakes will happen and some efforts will fail and try to create a legacy that lasts anyway?

Your Value in the Relationship

This month I’ve been asking a really important question to myself, my clients and in my newsletters: do I value myself, and do you value yourself? For too many years we’ve undervalued the contribution we can make for the world, and just as important that we are beings of incredible and immeasurable value. If we truly valued ourselves would we smoke and drink as much as we do? Would we do the drugs we do (both medical and recreational)? Would we watch as much TV? Would we work jobs we hate? Would we stay in abusive relationships? Would we eat all that we do? If we really thought about our value and if we really valued ourselves would we live the lives we do? I think the answer is a resounding no.

This month we’ve been talking about being part of a team, and (spoiler alert) next month we’ll be talking about being healthy. One of the things I’ve been reminded most from this month is that teamwork means you’re not alone. I know we live in a very busy world where we’re practically always connected and always on the go and always dealing with others, and yet so many of us are lonely.

A relationship is one of the most important teams that we’ll be part of in our lives. It’s the person we choose to share our deepest secrets with, our biggest fears, our dreams, hopes, ambitions and frustrations. They’re the person we expect to be there when we need them, and to be there for them when they need us. Our partner should be one of the best parts of our life. But if we don’t believe we are a valued member of that relationship, if we don’t feel appreciated and if we can’t express who we are without judgment, we’ll quickly lose our passion and interest in life.

If your partner isn’t supportive of who you are and what you need it’s time to consider if your relationship is really the right one for you or if it’s time you found someone who values you as much as you do.

“In any personal relationship, what we really have to give is ourselves. The more we value ourselves, the more we attract loving and appropriate life partners and friends to us…The key is how much we value ourselves.” Madeline C. Gerwick