Last year I created a video and wrote a blog post challenging people to start each day in a state of gratitude and to write down their thoughts of thankfulness.
Now with the growing pandemic and fear about where this is going to take all of us I see gratitude as more important than ever. I have to be honest. At the start of all of this, I went into full got to work hard and got to stay focused mode. I forgot for a very short time to take my own advice and spend some time each day reflecting and be thankful.
Gratitude is the enemy of fear. No matter what others may be feeling or maybe doing, for each of us there are many reasons to be thankful. This morning I pulled up my list and the memories flooded back on of the past times and people that have brought such joy in my life even when times were hard. Reading the list and reflecting on all the years of good resulted in a wave of joy and positivity.
Have you got gratitude? Are you clear on the many blessings that are in your life even as the world around you is not what it was just a few short weeks ago?
Now is the time to take inventory of all that is good and thank the world around you. So here we go, time again to throw out the gratitude challenge. Start your list, share your thoughts and for goodness sake reach out to those around you that may be hurting and let them know they mean something and have a future.
What a time we are living in with the Covid-19 virus hysteria that is in progress where I live and around the country. It seems that things are changing almost minute by minute and for sure what we have been experiencing is historical. There has been a stock market crash, rush to buy goods including toilet paper, “social distancing” requiring events and businesses to close down. Now millions of people are working from home and schools are closed. The list just goes on and on.
It is not an exaggeration to say this feels very much like a fictional disaster movie.
Group panic and group fear is a real thing. It is not out of the question to imagine people fighting over food items as this has happened already over–toilet paper. Meanwhile, there are even fake news stories out there about things that have not occurred which are intentionally trying to magnify hysteria.
With a state of emergency declared, it would not be surprising to next see for the first time in our lifetime the military out in key areas where panic is possible like hospitals, grocery stores, and critical supply chain locations. Again, this is not a movie or a new Netflix series. It is all real.
All of this for some reason made me think of my wilderness first aid training I took years ago as a Scout leader. In the training, we were taught during a crisis, often the situation is made even worse by poor decisions taken while in a state of distress. Scouts have a great model for this that applies really well in other stress situations especially including what we are experiencing now. When in crises–S.T.O.P.
Sit— Often when there is a crisis in the wilderness the person will panic, take off running, and end up even more lost than before. The key here is to quit moving and take a pause. Often doing nothing is the best way to be rescued. Sounds a lot like staying home in this current situation huh?
Think–Now that a state of calm has been achieved, it is time to do some deep thinking and begin the process of rounding up years of skills, experience, and training to help formulate a plan. There have been many catastrophes throughout history and yet we are still here. This too shall pass.
Observe–This is a critical skill to measure the surroundings to identify and additional dangers that may be in the area and better yet additional resources that may be around to help. Be an optimist but also take care to follow all the guidelines provided but the real experts. This is not a time to make up your own answers about the future and what to do in the present.
Plan–This is where the real work starts. Where others may panic and make the situation worse, now is the time to make a detailed plan for you and your family. No, the sky is not falling but at the same time, you do want to be ready for the impact created by those who think it is.
What we are going through now and for the next several months could be some of the worse times ever experienced in our generation. It is the time to remain calm and know that whatever is happening now and whatever is going to happen will pass.
Years from now, we will all look back and remember how we reacted. These memories can be of how we kept our cool and used our gifts to help those around us or they can be memories of how we contributed to the negativity. Every day is going to be a choice.
Make sure your choices are such that you will be proud years from now when you are sitting joyfully in your family circle to say, “here is what I did when the world went crazy”.
The New Year for many people brings a desire to set goals. The most popular of course is usually related to fitness. Other popular goals include reading more, learning more, being a better parent, getting out of debt and on and on.
Getting the right information to make all of these things happen can be difficult. For me, one of my best growth tools over the years has been listening to podcasts. A podcast is great for the convenience of listening while on the go and the vast variety of topics make it an ideal source for learning things that might normally be out of your wheelhouse.
I have many favorites and thought I would share mine in case you might be looking for some new outlets of curiosity in 2017.
The Art of Manliness: An eclectic podcast covering a variety of topics specifically targeted for men. Based on Tulsa, the host Brett McKay graduated from the University of Oklahoma so you know he is going to be great.
Ted Radio Hour: Just about everyone has heard of TedTalks. The Ted Radio Hour is a bit of a greatest hits type program that features a variety of talks and interviews of the speaker. A much deeper experience than just listening to a talk.
Snap Judgement: A favorite while on a walk, master story teller Glynn Washington and his amazingly talented team share stories that are engaging and in many ways eye opening.
Coaching for Leaders: I try to listen to this one often as the topics, guests and conversations have provided me many great best practices to improve my skills as a leader.
Stuff You Should Know: Ever wonder about the history of porta-potties? Why Easter Island’s Civilization Collapsed? What about how a Lighthouse works? Hosts Chuck Bryan and Josh Clark discuss random topics that are surprisingly interesting. The added benefit is that you will know a lot of useless trivia to annoy all your friends at your next party.
Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast: Craig Groeschel is the pastor of Life.Church which has lead the church world with innovation including being one of the first multi-site churches, offering the most downloaded free app in history, church online and more. In his podcast he shares the secrete sauce of leadership he has learned and is still learning along the way.
The Tim Ferris Show: I discovered this podcast very recently and have instantly become a huge fan. Tim Ferris is excellence obsessed and he uses his interviews to glean the best practices of high achievers from a wide variety of disciplines. I like this podcast so much that I got his new book as gift for my college age son for Christmas and I am working my way through all of his past shows.
ITunes makes podcast listening easy and if you are an Android user like me I suggest the Stitcher App as a good choice.
Got a favorite podcast that you would add to my list? Leave a comment and share.
The calendar has turned to a New Year and as usual for a lot of people I am spending time today being reflective of the year that was and the year that is to be. I started 2016 once again in the middle of the work storm of layoffs. In my 20+ year career with my employer I have survive an estimated 11 of these and they never get easier. Good came from this experience as it was the final factor to motivate me to fulfill a long time goal of getting the SRHM-SCP certification.
Basically this is a competency test for HR professionals and I jumped in to take the highest level of the exam. Fear of failing the test and excuses around the time needed to study had kept me from this goal for many years.
I will never forget those moments in the car right before going into the testing center as I sat in nervous anticipation. A couple of hours later my hands shook as I waited at the computer for my results.
Yes I passed and as I stared at the screen it was hard not to shout out in joy even as I wiped a tear from my cheek.
So what was the big deal? Would I get a promotion as a result of this? No. Would I get a pay raise? No. Would there be a big celebration and recognition from peers or my company? No again. The big deal for me was simply meeting a challenge that required hours and hours of work in advance that may or may not have resulted in success. I was energized by the process.
Now I have a certificate to hang on the wall. No one seeing it will ever grasp the years of experience and the hours of study it represents.
I have met many goals in the past that at the start seemed questionable. Marathons, triathlons, duathlons, Master’s degree, debt freedom, surviving stage 4 cancer and the list goes on. The end result has more often not been a celebration but instead a big question of “what next?”
I will have to be honest. There is a big part of me that wishes I could just be satisfied with the now result. Instead within moments a sense of let down and dissatisfaction steps in boarding on depression really. Many prayers have be dedicated to this aspect of my personality.
Today thinking of the year that is yet to be I am left wondering about the next big next for me. My list is long and detailed with at least one or two goals that once again seem questionable in my ability to make them happen. The good news is that thanks to my obsessive goal setting I know my track record indicates that with hard work and focus I will succeed. The bad news is that I know my track record also indicates that the result will only bring temporary satisfaction.
A goal for 2017 is to ride a total of 3,500 miles or more
Nonetheless I will press on. God wired me this way and my curse is also my blessing to be embraced.
What about you? Do you know your next big next? Very few people seem to have goals and even fewer seem to have a plan to make them happen. Me, I can’t a imagine life without a forward reach. When I am goalless I am lost.
Do not let fear of not making it or worse fear of what happens next keep you from taking that first step.
Your goal does not have to be climbing a mountain or winning that promotion. Instead it can be small like that phone call to a long lost friend you have been putting off or that choice for a salad lunch today. Don’t start off going to win the war. Start with a small victory or a spectacular failure. Just the fact that you tried will mean that you have pressed on. You unlike most people decided to try.
I hope that 2017 will be your best year yet. Find your next big next and go for it.
It is hard to wrap my head around that number thinking how long I have been with my employer as of today. I joined just five years of working after graduating college to be part of something that at that time was totally new.
Prior to 1996 by law there were only two wireless carriers in each town. That helped things remain stable as this newfangled technology was growing and at the same time limited competition. The government decided more players in the marketplace would reduce prices and increase innovation. Of course the billions of dollars that were to be made in the spectrum auctions were not a bad thing either for Uncle Sam.
I was working for one of the two at the time and thought it would be exciting to be part of a ground up new start opportunity.
During these last many years I have been part of a lot of changes. I stepped into this company as a newlywed and soon had a house, a son and a growing set of responsibilities and challenges that come with maturing.
In my work life, I saw a growth of technology and an evolution of my skills thanks to being part of a dynamic industry. I encountered opportunities to explore my abilities and found a path that led me in career areas I would not have imagined early on.
I also experienced the full corporate lifecycle with explosive growth, maturity, decline and now (hopefully) growth again. My job titles and roles have changed many times as the organization changed. Co-workers have come and gone. CEOs have come and gone. In the last fifteen years, there has been turmoil and changes with layoffs occurring on average once a year or more.
As a manager I have hired people, fired people, laid people off, celebrated promotions, celebrated life events and consoled life tragedies of peers, managers, and subordinates.
In a work world where now the average worker changes employers every 4.6 years according to the U.S. Department of Labor, I am an anomaly as are the many others I know that are long time employees here.
Through it all I have remained singular in my corporate life for reasons I am not sure I even understand.
So how does one stay at one employer for so long, through so much change and still stay engaged, challenged and growing?
Know your purpose
My purpose, mission statement or whatever you may want to call it has evolved over the years as my interests and roles have changed. What has remained the same however is that I have consistently taken time to define why I work and then have used my why as a magnet to pull me forward in my actions and in my growth.
The tumultuous life that is the ever-changing world of the wireless industry has resulted over time in a need to constantly adjust my brand as organization shifts. Having a true north by knowing my why has provided focus even when all else around me is seemly in chaos.
Grow your skills through opportunity
My undergraduate degree is in Government from a small regional state college. Not exactly the credentials that will land you that high-level corporate position right out of the gate. Fortunately, work has provided many growth opportunities through in the trenches experience and formal learning programs. Even better, once I locked into my career path I was able to take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program to go on to a master’s degree in my field of work and later a senior-level certification. All debt-free and reimbursed by my employer.
“I don’t believe in luck, I believe in preparation” –Bobby Knight
Having faced many staff reductions over the years, I would like to say that each time I was chosen to continue it was due to my skills and my performance outcomes. While I have confidence in those areas, I have at the same time stayed prepared. I am always striving forward, learning and keeping an eye on the external market for new ideas as well as the skills that others see as valuable.
Just as importantly, I have worked to stay forward thinking and positive through good relationships with those in the organization that are influencers and performers. I believe you learn best from those that are excelling in what they do.
Most importantly, I have continued to believe in the future. I have steadfastly held that no matter what change may come my way I will be able to handle it and the outcome will result ultimately in a positive impact.
We get back from the world and our careers what we put into it.
No longer after twenty years is there a reward of gold watches, celebrations, pension and retirement. Instead, the work continues so, therefore, I will quietly go about my day and press on while giving my best to the future that has yet to be revealed.
I can clearly remember the days as a teen and later as a young adult longing to have love in my life. I was never much of a ladies guy and there were times when I was sure I would never find the right person. It turns out I did not need to find anyone as thanks to a mutual friend we found each other through a blind date.
Imagine that! A simple lunch set up turning into a lifetime of togetherness. We are proof that it can happen.
Someone this week through e-mail made a comment about our length of marriage success and kiddingly said he should get advice from me. Me being me I could not help but respond with some top of mind thoughts. Here they are
Marry the right person to start (people are not fixer uppers)
Be partners (no separate accounts; no secrets)
Have common interests (hobbies that you do together)
Have uncommon interests (Hobbies that make you/her happy and provide “me” time)
Honor with actions (Always strive to think positively and speak positively about spouse)
Never stop perusing (dates, adventures together, random acts of kindness)
Never stop moving forward (plans for the future—dreams)
Surround yourself with successful marriages(If we are the average of those around us be around couples that will lift you up)
Make sure you are yoked (philosophy on God, money, health, children etc)
Marry your spouse and not your career. (Jobs come and go but family should be forever)
Like any couple we have faced many challenges over the years but along the way there has never been any question that no matter what we are in this together and forever. Neither of us would have it any other way.
Happy 21 to us. There is no doubt in my heart that the best is indeed yet to come.
While out at lunch the other day I had to pull the car over for a rather long funeral procession. As the police motorcycles, hearse and other cars streamed by the King and Country song “Let my life be the proof of your love.”
Let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Live is sacrificed
So let my life be the proof
The proof of Your love
Some pretty serious words to ponder sitting there in my car at lunch on Monday. I have no idea who was in the hearse or what kind of life that person may have led. Just judging by the number of cars in the procession this was a person of great impact.
As I waited, I thought a lot about my life. Is it proof? Do others know through my actions what I feel in my heart and say in my head? When the end of my journey comes will I leave any legacy?
Here is the good news. My ride this Monday was far different from the person in the hearse as I was upright and heading into a new week. The procession turned into a motivational Monday moment with a simple reminder that life is too short to be complacent.
Each day is a new chance to make a difference. As long as you are alive you can be a difference maker and be the proof.
“Just because you are passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it” Mike Rowe
I grew up with a passion for music. My greatest thrill as a youth were the times when I was performing as part of the high school choir, show choir, or the marching band. What an amazing feeling to be in front of hundreds of people and to relish in the accolades of their feedback at the end of each performance. As a senior, my peers were even so kind to vote me as “best male singer”.
There was only one problem. I actually kind of sucked.
In spite of my great passion for music and my strong desire to be good with an instrument or an amazing singer, I did not possess any innate ability to be any good. I have a terrible voice, poor rhythm and a lack of psychomotor skills. Heck, even after four years in the high school band I was never able to fully memorize and play the school fight song. Now that is bad.
Had I followed this passion for music without a realization of my actual ability, I surely would have failed.
This is one reason I am such a fan of Mike Rowe’s advice on this video. It is okay to have a passion and to follow your dreams. The real key when it comes to our careers is to align passion and dreams with our abilities.
There are people that discover this secret early in life and go on to find fulfillment through an easy path. For many people, however, the juncture between ability, passion, and dreams happen only after years of trial. For others, this critical path to fulfillment is never realized due to too much time wasted following the passions and dreams dictated by our societal norms while ignoring their natural gifts.
It has been my observation that to be a real success and experience happiness, we must find what we are good at doing and then become the best we can at doing it.
I agree with Mike. Find your talent and then your dreams as well as your passion will come.
What do you think?
Oh and by the way, if you happen to find yourself standing near me at church during the time everyone is singing. My apologies in advance.
Yes 2016 is here and it is time once again to reflect on the year that was and plan for the year can be. For years I have taken time to write down my goals and think about what I can do differently and what I can do the same to ensure the coming months go well.
There is always a lot of excitement about the start of the New Year. I have read that somewhere between 40 to 50 percent of people set resolutions or goals. I have also read that as many as 80 percent of people break at least one resolution within the first five days after setting them. Pretty sad huh?
I have been there too and have at times found myself not following through with my goals and soon I am angrier and disappointed at myself more then I was before making them.
One goal I have is to ride the bike 2,000 Miles in 2016
It is this feeling of repeated failure after not achieving that I think prevents many people from bothering to even try to have goals. After all, what is the point if you know you will fail again and not follow through?
I may be naïve but I truly believe there is always hope to strive to be better and to get started no matter how many times in the past you have tried and not succeeded. Perhaps these were just lesson on what not to do the next time. The mere fact that there are people that do change and do have success shows that it can be done.
So how do we make sure the goals happen?
Write them down! Just saying you have goal is not enough. You need a battle plan to succeed with very specific details. This should include very small success milestones that will allow you to celebrate along the way.
Want to lose 30 pounds? Great set that as a goal then add details around the healthy eating steps you will take. Instead of focusing on the big number make it small and think big picture. What if the goal instead were to lose 2 pounds? Sounds way better huh?
Share with others! There is no doubt that peer pressure and support from people that care about you will make a difference. Just be sure and share with true accountability people that will call you out in a loving way when you need a push to move forward.
Don’t give up! “Successful people consistently do what others will not” This is one of my all-time favorite quotes and my motivation theme for 2016.
Others will quit after their first failure. You will not!
Others will start each day expecting defeat. You will not!
The key word here is consistently since consistency lead to habits and habits lead to change that becomes so natural soon you will not give it a thought.
I believe 2016 can be a break out year for me and for you. Set your goals, share them and then get to work. We can do this!