Tomorrow around the world is the celebration of Easter. Whether you celebrate for religious reasons or just enjoy the abundance of colorful eggs and treats, there are a few lessons we can learn from it and apply to our success. I believe in celebrating and sharing life, not making things more difficult for each other or hoarding all the resources for yourself. I believe that together we can be better than we ever can apart, and while our resources aren’t unlimited, if we were all a little more conscientious about our use of them I don’t think there would ever be a lack.
Loss and failure are things that we have to deal with as humans and business owners. Not everything or everyone works out as perfectly as we want them to. We’re not all knowing so we’ll get some things wrong, two reasons being because we don’t have sufficient information and other times because we go against our gut. Sometimes though those mistakes and failures lead to bigger and better things than we ever thought possible.
Easter is all about new birth, rebirth, new life and hope. I know it seems more challenging than ever each year to talk about this topic because of all that goes on in the world, but the fact is when we give up hope and the celebration of things like Easter, I believe that things will only get worse. We can do our part in our businesses by making sure that they’re healthy; that the treat customers, employees and everyone else with respect and dignity; that we focus more on bringing solutions and support to the world than quadrupling our profits or getting the best deal from suppliers; and looking to support our immediate communities as well as others around the world. If we all did just a little to bring hope to the world, donated just a small percentage of our profits, and/or were a little more considerate towards the human side of things, the world would be a better place and the world would regard the business world with a little more respect and favor.
I encourage you to take time this weekend to celebrate your personal and professional life and all that you’ve accomplished so far this year and let that hope move you forward into the next few months and even the rest of the year with hope and spirit.
This week I’ve been following a story that has definitively captured my attention, that of 2 young boys who were surgically separated. This isn’t a new practice, we’ve been doing it for many years, but the thing that was different about their situation is that they were attached at the head. The surgery was successful, and now it’s time for healing for the boys as well as the family. I can’t imagine going through that as a parent or family member, I’ve been through challenges with my grandparents as well as personal and immediate family health challenges or surgeries, but to contemplate the incredible challenges that were present before and different ones that are present now is heartrending.
It got me thinking about what happens when we ask God/The universe (or whatever higher power you believe in) for something. Sometimes we get exactly what we ask for, other times we are told to wait and then receive, but other times what we’re given is what we ask for but with a serious twist. This family wanted to grow a little and what they were given wasn’t just two new lives, but two new lives that presented incredible challenges physically, mentally and emotionally for them and the family. It’s not what their parents would have ever asked for, but now that they’ve gone through the steps this far (and considering worse case scenarios that are still possible), you have to wonder if they would do it all over again exactly the same.
Maybe you’ve been in this place before. Maybe you’ve been on a very challenging journey thanks to God/The Universe delivering an answer to you, or maybe you’re in that journey now. You’ve heard the saying “no pain, no gain”, but is that really what you would choose when all is said and done? For many people the deep-down answer is yes. They would choose to take the same hard road. There might be a few things they would do different (like not resist as much) but essentially their answer would be yes. What would yours be?
This week I encourage you to be open to all that the world could hold for you. Who knows, maybe these two boys now that they’re separated will become the presidents of the US. Maybe they’ll find a cure for diabetes or Alzheimers. Or maybe they’ll not do anything world shattering with their lives, but they will make a positive difference and make the earth richer because they’re alive and survived these early challenging years. What will you find at the end of your current path in life?
Every day we do a thousand things that could either hurt or help ourselves and others. We make tons of decisions about our lives and the lives of the other people we interact with. Sometimes they’re really good decisions, sometimes they’re lucky decisions, sometimes they’re selfish decisions, sometimes they’re selfless decisions, sometimes they’re lazy decisions, sometimes they’re rushed decisions and sometimes they’re thoughtless decisions. It’s always my goal to make one more thoughtful and selfless decision each day, but I’m not perfect and don’t expect that I’ll make all perfect decisions anytime in the near future (and sidenote: sometimes the best decision you can make is a selfish one).
So what if, instead of trying for the impossibility of perfect, we focused more on doing one more thing that could positively change the world? What if instead of letting that insensitive thought fly out of our mouths, instead we looked for the words that would heal or free someone? What if instead of playing the victim card you turned it around and became the victor? What if instead of trying to get revenge on someone for the way they hurt you, instead you went on to encourage someone else? What if instead of looking for ways that you can be king or queen, you looked for ways to make a difference instead? What if instead of trying to always be center stage, you let someone else shine? What if you took the spotlight off your life and you looked for ways that you could make one person’s day a little brighter?
Today I encourage you to choose the gifts of encouragement, hope, reassurance and shared strength. Let people know that the whole world has not gone to pot and that there are still caring people here. Let the world know that each person matters, as an individual and a human being. Let people know that they are not forgotten. Finally, let someone know that their life is not over and they can still find purpose and fulfillment and live their life however they choose. Who will you encourage today?
“Is there somebody in your life whom by a word or an action you can help to unbind, help to set free? Give them hope. For that is God’s gift to each one of us. Give that gift to another today.” Br. Geoffrey Tristram
Do you know what a gift it is to smile? Some people live in such pain and poverty that a smile is the furthest thing from their minds. They’re too concerned about getting their next meal, living until tomorrow and not getting beat up by those who hold them captive in one way or another. There are also the people who have no teeth or bad teeth and are ashamed of it so they don’t smile. Plus there are the people who are so overwhelmed by the stuff going on in their lives that they just can’t find anything to smile about (most of us can identify with this one!).
I had some time between appointments this weekend so I stopped at a coffee shop to get some work done because it was smarter than going home and back out again. I enjoy going to this particular coffee shop because they always decorate for seasons and holidays. For the spring season they’ve got paper flowers and streamers hanging from the ceiling. This isn’t a large expense, there are any number of catalogues and online stores who sell these products, they probably spent a maximum of $30 on them. But by doing so not only did they brighten my day, they made me smile. They don’t have to do this, just like no one has to hang lights for Christmas, but by doing so they bring some cheer to the world.
Has something or someone made you smile lately? If so make it a point to pass the cheer along. Maybe you’ll post something positive on their social media, maybe you’ll volunteer to get the treats for your next girls/guys night, maybe you’ll choose to Shop Small to help a small business owner breathe a little easier this month, maybe you’ll donate to a charity that brings smiles (literally or generally) to other people, or maybe you’ll just share a smile with someone you pass at the store, in the halls at work or just going about your day. What has made you smile lately?
With Easter being this past Sunday of course I’ve been thinking about the concept of new life. It reminded me of a quote by Steven Hall: “Every single cell in the human body replaces itself over a period of seven years. That means there’s not even the smallest part of you now that was part of you seven years ago.” Of course this gets me thinking about all the possibilities there are for healing and recovery from sicknesses, not to mention those who quit smoking or doing other drugs. It also makes me question why we do such bad things to our bodies that we even need to know that it’s a 7 year cycle.
So part of me is really thankful that we’ve got the gift of a body that regrows itself, even if it does take 7 years to happen. I mean, how cool is that?! But part of me is upset that it takes that long!! I know, I’ve seen too many crimes solved in under 60 minutes and food cooked and delivered in under 30 minutes to have any kind of real time perception, not even what people had 50 years ago. But why doesn’t our body do the replacement every year or every 5 years, why does it have to take 7? There are tons of things that we could question, but I think this is one of those that is better seen as a gift rather than something to complain about.
So as you dive into this new week I encourage you to remember that your body refreshes itself, and so should you in the other areas of your life. Take time to celebrate the new opportunities in your life and those that pop back up again. Be thankful for the body you have and all that it does for you on a daily basis, especially the things you don’t think about. Celebrate that you’re alive and able to move around however you do it and able to enjoy each moment of your life.
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 new year is here! As you know I’m excited about what the year ahead holds, I’m always excited when we get this fresh slate in front of us ready to be colored on, used, worked with and tried out. Yes, there will be failures and mistakes, that’s inevitable, but there are also lots of chances for improvements, redos and changes. If 2015 wasn’t your year, you’ve got a new year to thrive in.
As we start this year I want to think about something that we don’t usually associate with new years: legacies. With a new year, with the exception of making new years resolutions based on what happened in the past year or what we want to change from the past, it’s all about moving forward and new opportunities, not about dying, legacies or being finished. A new year isn’t an end, it’s a new beginning, but if we take a moment to think about how we want to end the year rather than just what we think we want in the upcoming year maybe we’ll have a better chance of actually getting there this year. No, you can’t anticipate all that the year will hold, but there’s a commitment that you can make: a commitment to do better each and every day.
It’s always my goal each day to do something that makes a difference in the world. Maybe that’s donating to a charity, maybe it’s volunteering my time for children in need, maybe it’s giving advice to an entrepreneur just starting out. Whatever it is my ultimate goal each day is to make the world a better place to live in for myself, my friends, my family and everyone else. There’s no guarantee that you’ll make the right decision all the time or always do the right thing, we’re not perfect after all. But you can commit to doing your best to make each day better than the last and always leave whatever part of the world you’re in a better place when you leave.
What will you do with 2016?
“When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.” Jim Henson
Can you believe we’ve reached the last week of 2015? Can you believe that another year is almost over? Are you excited about that? Worried about the new year? How are you feeling in this last week? I hope that as challenging as 2015 may have been for you there have been some really good moments as well that when you look back over the year in your thinking about the new year and maybe new years resolutions you’ll be able to be proud of at least a few things and not just look back and see regrets.
As we finish off this year I wanted to share about a topic that I always come back to because I believe it’s so important for us: hope. Let’s take a look briefly at 3 things that you can put into your new year to make 2016 a better year than 2015.
Preparation: This is a step that so many people skip or miss. They’re so focused on taking action and rushing forward that they don’t take the time to ask questions or make plans. There’s a lot that you can avoid if you’re even just a little bit prepared.
Work Hard: making plans and being prepared can’t be effective unless action is taken on those plans and preparations. If you’re willing to put a little extra effort into 2016 the results you will see a year from now will amaze you.
Believe in a little luck: I know this doesn’t sound like it is really something you can do and to a big extent it’s not. Luck happens often randomly and without reason, that’s part of why it’s called luck. But if you’re open to having good things magically and randomly appear in your life it leaves the door open for blessings the universe wants to send your way.
I’m grateful for 2015 but looking forward to 2016, what about you?
“Be prepared, work hard, and hope for a little luck. Recognize that the harder you work and the better prepared you are, the more luck you might have.” Ed Bradley
One of the things I love about the holiday season is gift giving. Yes, it can get expensive but there’s nothing like the look on someone’s face when they get what they want. I grew up writing Christmas lists, and you probably did too. After all, no one really wants that ugly sweater, they want things they can actually use and/or enjoy. So today I thought I’d share a few things that are on most of our Christmas lists (and our kids’ lists too) even if we won’t admit it.
The first thing we all want is a little help. How many times in the last week have you complained about or wished for a little help with something? That your partner would get off their lazy butt and take out the garbage, that your kids would listen for once, or that mom and dad would stop fighting and talk with someone who could help them fix what’s wrong? Don’t be ashamed that you need help, we all do. Some of us are just brave enough or far enough down the hole to ask for it.
The second thing we all want is a little hope. There are so many sad stories in the news each day it breaks my heart. People around the world are losing their lives every day for senseless reasons and destruction of property and the earth itself are seen in just about every corner of the world. With so many people who choose to live in darkness we want even more during this special season to see that there is still hope for this world and for the next generation.
Finally we all want someone to believe in us. Everyone wants to know that they’re loved, trusted and valued by at least one other person. We seek validation from our parents, our partners, our bosses, our coworkers and everyone else in the world by how we act, talk, dress and who we choose to spend time with.
So if you’re stuck on what to get someone, young or old, the best gift you can give this Christmas season is to offer help and hope and let them know how much you appreciate them and the light they shine in the world.
“All kids need is a little help, a little hope and somebody who believes in them.” Magic Johnson
I hope you’re as excited about the upcoming holidays as I am! As we consider Christmas in a few weeks, this celebration of life, love, family, and so much more, you’ll be hearing a lot about the stories of Christmas, the messages of Christmas, why you should give, and why it’s a special time of year. There are many good answers to those topics, but one of my favorites is said well by Taylor Caldwell:
“This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone.”
Yes, it’s simple, but it’s the truth. No matter what story you’re looking at, it all comes down to the fact that we’re all here together. There was Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, Wisemen and more. There was Santa or St. Nick delivering gifts to many. There’s Charlie Brown putting on a play with his friends and decorating the tree. There’s a Christmas Carol where Scrooge learns that merry and kindness are the right things to do. Those are just a few of the stories that are watched, told and remembered at this time, and all have to do with the fact that no one is alone and no one can live their life without impacting someone else.
This weekend and in the weeks upcoming as you go about your life it will be easy to remember that you’re not alone: there will be all the mall traffic, emails from stores, holiday cards coming in the mail and family and friends calling up to say hi and meeting to share gifts. Know that in these moments it’s not an exercise in frustration or annoying holiday sweaters, but an opportunity to be reminded that you’re here to help others and they’re here to help you. You don’t have to go through anything alone in life, nor can you abdicate the responsibilities you have towards your fellow man. Let’s celebrate together.