The Choice of Hope

Tomorrow is Easter, primarily celebrated in the religious world, but also a time for families with kids to play with eggs, tell stories about the Easter bunny and eat candy. What I want to talk about today is central to both sides of the Easter story, and that’s the topic of hope. Just like Valentine’s Day is important because it gets us talking about love and the importance of it in our lives, Easter is a time for us to talk about new life and hope.

As leaders, as people the next generation looks to, it’s important to set a good example for them, and one of the most important aspects is in the area of hope. There will always be challenges to face in life, however we do have a choice how we deal with them. Even if we don’t have the skills needed or knowledge needed to conquer the situation, having hope can help us get through it with courage and keep moving forward. It’s almost as important to teach the next generation about things like hope and courage, as it is to teach them about math and reading.

Hope isn’t only about having a positive outlook on the future even if the future doesn’t look so positive, it’s about taking actions to breathe new life into your situations, into your life, into your relationships, bringing that positive outlook closer to reality. It’s about choosing to be stronger than your circumstances, not letting fear overly influence your decision making, helping others with a kind word or deed, choosing life over suffering, moving forward even when it feels like you’re moving backwards, and looking for the good in each person and day.

Tomorrow is a chance to start fresh with yourself, your family, or your life if you need to. We can choose hope, we can choose to teach hope, but hope can’t be forced on us. Will you choose hope?

Living Today

The new year has arrived and we’re almost a week in! I love that we have life divided into days, months, years and lifetimes. It helps us to process better and plan both short-term and long-term goals which give us small and large victories throughout our lives.  Each one is filled with a different set of opportunities for us to live and love and build relationships and be successful.

I don’t always go with a year theme, but lots of people do. I’ve seen lots of different words this year including spaciousness, time, intention, substance, experience, purpose, promise, change and clarity. This year I’ll be doing something different and not doing monthly themes for every month as I’ve done in the past, but instead going with a yearly theme. This year’s theme is going to be ‘today.’

Why ‘today’? Not because of how fast-paced our world is, but rather because I want us to take a step back and live in today, accomplish things today, appreciate today, learn from today and enjoy today. Yes, we’ll still talk about goals, planning, the future, and the bigger picture, but I want to focus on appreciating, enjoying and acting on each day.

As we’re constantly reminded of in the news each day is a gift. What you do in that day may make or break your future. It can overcome what you’ve done in the past. You can end the day satisfied with what you got done that day or feeling like it was all a waste. It may be one of your last days, will you look back and know you lived it well?

What will you do with today?

The Drive of Success

This month one of the big stories in the US has been about the lottery. Two jackpots were extremely large numbers, in the hundreds of millions and above, and it took a good couple of draws before anyone won the big pots. Friends and I have talked about how unbelievable it was that no one won until someone did, and that the pots could get as large as they did. Someone said that maybe it got that large because it is as random a draw as they say it is.

So each time that no one won people bought another ticket, and with the pots as large as they were people who don’t usually play were buying tickets too. I know that the likelihood of winning is extremely low (almost impossible), but the fact is someone has to win at some point in time, and people eventually did. Although it’s not the best thing to do with your money I thought there were some interesting lessons that could be learned and applied to our success from the lottery craze these past few weeks.

These two most recent pots both showed the importance and value of perseverance. Lottery in general means you buy a ticket for the upcoming draw and that ticket is only good for that specific draw, not all future ones or any in the past. Also true is the fact that if you don’t buy a ticket you can’t win. If you want to win sometimes the only way to do so is to try, and keep trying.

The other thing these large pots speak to is hope.  People don’t work for success unless they’ve got something they’re looking forward to as a result of that success.  Maybe it’s more time with family, a better life, or making a difference, but people don’t apply themselves to something that they don’t have even a sliver of a belief that it could come true.

You may not have won the lottery this past month, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have success in your life.  Success is something that almost anyone can achieve, especially those who believe in themselves, put their minds to it, and make the effort.  What is driving your success?

Thankful to be Alive

Second chances are a powerful thing. This week we learned that the boys and their soccer coach who went missing while visiting a cave in Thailand were still alive. They were in the cave for 9 days before they were found, and in the days since then people from around the world have been providing the expertise they have in caves and engineering to try to help and get the kids out before they run out of oxygen or the cave floods. Of course many of us are reminded of the Chilean miners who were trapped in a cave for 69 days in 2010. It took a serious effort to get them all out, and while the situation is different, it’s no less overwhelming or scary for the family members of the children and the soccer coach.

I believe that blame does have a place, but not here and now. It can come after we know how the story ends, hopefully with tales of rescue. This week for the kids and parents has been an opportunity to reconnect and share messages that may never have gotten out if they weren’t found. It’s an opportunity for them to talk again and see each other again.

Every day we deal with tragedies, and the loss of people who are killed accidentally or intentionally. There are very few cases of people who have absolutely no one who will miss them, there’s almost always someone left behind who will have to deal with the loss. In so many of those cases there wasn’t the opportunity for last messages, for apologies, for anything except to deal with the loss. But these families have had the chance this week to reconnect, even if it’s with a lot of earth between them.

We’re not guaranteed anything but today. You can’t predict or control what others do, you only have control over yourself. Don’t make light of second chances. Live and love today not because it might be your last day, but because you’re alive today.

Love for 2018

Today I was inspired to share a quote from Maya Angelou:

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope.”

This is what I want for the rest of 2018. I want a year that’s filled with hope, where we all encourage and love each other, and aren’t driven by fear of the world ending or massive destruction. Of course, as long as we’re all still human the best we can do is strive for that goal, since none of us can be loving all the time. We’ve certainly hit our fair share of walls in 2017, so it’s my hope that 2018 can be the year that we bring down or challenge many of those walls.

So what can we do to make the rest of 2018 great?

First, it starts with an attitude adjustment for many of us. Our attitudes determine the thoughts we think, words we say and can even influence the actions we take. Our attitude is one of the most important things to work on, yet it’s often the hardest because we’ve had these beliefs drilled into us since we were kids, and now they’re part of who we are. But if we truly want to live in a better world, we have to learn to release prejudices, hatred, anger and even apathy.

Second, we have to start showing people we care and they matter. If we all acted a little more responsibly for ourselves, those who rely on us (like kids, partners and parents), and towards the world as a whole, there would be less tragedy and fewer situations which tear at our social fabric. If we were even 10% more responsible with our actions than we are now, not only would our neighborhoods be happy places to live, we’d all enjoy life more.

Finally, we have to choose to live with love and hope. Love doesn’t overlook the bad stuff, it helps find solutions to fix the bad stuff, or figures out the role bad stuff plays in life. Love gives all of us second and third chances, and helps us make good decisions about how we treat others and the world around us. Hope helps us stand again when the bad stuff gets overwhelming and makes us willing to work through the changes, even when they seem to take forever.

I hope that you’ll join me as we discover what it means to live with love and hope, and how many more victories can be achieved in each of our lives when we choose to love that way.

Can We Outgrow Love?

I asked an interesting question in the title of today’s post: can you outgrow the need for love? Frank A. Clark says: “A baby is born with a need to be loved – and never outgrows it.”

I have to say that I agree with him. I don’t think we can ever outgrow the need to love and be loved. Love is this absolutely essentially core aspect of who we are as people. Love challenges us in every aspect of our lives, yet when we think about living with out it, I know I break out in cold sweats, and you may too. When I think about living in a world without love, I can picture the depravity, the hurt, the hatred and the pain that would take over each and every one of our lives. I can see that we’d all be living sub-par lives of misery. Yet we all too often try to not let love play the role in our lives that it should.

We all go through periods of growth during our lives, growth is an essential part to who we are as people. Growth and change are essential to our lives. We can’t do all the activities we did at 4 at 84. We can’t expect to find success without making some changes and opening up to growth in our lives. So as with each spring and summer plants grow, we know that our lives will grow and change too. We will outgrow the things in our past and become (hopefully) bigger and better people.

But that’s not the case for love. We hopefully will learn new dimensions of love throughout our lives, but we’ll never ever outgrow the need to be loved by those around us. So why don’t we put the emphasis on love that we should? Why don’t we try to spread love within our relationships and communities? That’s one of the $64 million questions in life.

It’s one thing to turn down bad habits or people, it’s another thing to turn down or reject something that can be so positive and helpful in our lives. Yes, love like other things in life comes with some risk. Your heart can get broken, and your life turned upside down. But from what I’ve seen love is totally worth the risk. It won’t work out the right way every time, but nothing in life is a 100% guarantee (besides change, death and taxes).

This coming week I encourage you to open up to love again. Don’t give up, be persistent, and be open to the ways love wants to reveal itself in your life.

Hope for Success

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.

The Path of Most Resistance

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?

Sharing Freedom through Hope

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

What are You Smiling About?

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?