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Thirty years ago I was speeding north on a New Jersey interstate in my new Nissan 200SX. I don’t recall where I was coming from, or where I was going, but I do remember what happened that particular day.

 

As I zipped along in 5th gear, I passed a scene we only see on reality TV these days. A young woman, completely decked out in her beautiful, billowing white wedding dress, and a tall man in a tuxedo, were standing beside their car on the shoulder of the road. As I raced past I smiled, put my car into neutral, pulled over to the side of the road and then backed up to their car.

 

I got out and greeted them with a friendly “hello” and asked if they needed help, thinking that perhaps I could drop them off at the next exit or go to a gas station and get them a tow truck. It was a nice thought, but that wasn’t exactly in the cards.

 

I could understand what they were saying for the most part, but English was their second language. What I gathered was that it was their wedding day, the wedding was in 2 hours, the church was 45 minutes away, and their car was no longer working.

 

That changed my plans.

 

I told them that if they could fit into my little Nissan, I would happily take them to the church. While my car technically had 4 seats, it really only seated 2 comfortably. Nonetheless, we folded the big guy in the tux into the backseat, his knees practically touching his chin, and the fair princess in white climbed into the front seat. I swear the fluffiness of her dress filled the whole cabin of the car.

 

It was a fun drive to the church as I learned about their lives and their hopes for the future. It was a great day and I was happy to help out.

 

Fast forward to this past Wednesday.

 

It was dark. Probably 7:30 in the evening and I was just getting home from one of my clients. I turned left to go up a wooded, poorly lit, windy road when I saw some flares on the right side of the road near a broken down car. I shifted into 3rd gear, paused a moment as I wondered if they needed help, then pressed down on my gas pedal, and zipped past them. “Why bother?” I thought. “These days everyone has a cell phone and can call for help.”

 

Man did that suck and feel bad.

 

While smartphone technology is fantastic, and has certainly done amazing things for the way we live our lives, I do think it’s tearing at the fabric of community.

 

As if to accentuate that point, the next day I saw young mother walking with her newborn baby. They were both taking advantage of the amazing spring weather we’ve had recently. The baby was in a cute, little, navy blue stroller. The Mom was dressed in bright yellow and had both her hands on the handle as she pushed her baby. And in her hands, between the baby’s face and hers, was a black, big-screen smartphone. Nice bonding.

 

And we wonder why our children just want to get their hands on our electronics.

 

human connection 7Don’t get me wrong. Even though I don’t use much of it, I think technology is AMAZING. I love seeing all the fantastic things we can do with our new inventions. But what worries me most is that we aren’t engaging with it consciously. We are letting the technology rule our lives and it is leading to a distance between parents and children, between couples, between friends, between us humans. The divide is becoming more pronounced, and in its wake I fear is the death of community.

 

I believe you will have far more satisfaction in life by connecting with another human rather than connecting with your electronics. I encourage you to put them down and remember what it is like to make eye contact with someone you care about and be fully present to them.

 

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end.

– Henry David Thoreau

 

A lot has been written about the problems and distractions created by our smartphones.

 

I’ve heard from teachers about how students find it harder to talk to each other or make eye contact. I’ve heard the horrible news stories about how someone was texting just before a car accident. I’ve been on numerous calls with friends and clients while they are driving when I hear them say, “Shoot, I just missed my exit.” We all have been with a friend or business colleague who was more focused on their smartphone than on us.

 

I’m wise enough to know we will never stop the advance of technology. But that same wisdom tells me that the 10 minutes of undivided attention and listening that I gift to someone may actually change their life.

 

In my opinion, that makes for a a very easy choice.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

 

What’s Your DeFect?

I was at my Dad’s house recently as he was doing some de-cluttering and purging. After 92 years of living, one collects a number of very interesting items. Two such items that caught my attention were some old stamp collecting books. I pulled them off the shelf in his basement anxious to see what I might find inside.

 

I wasn’t disappointed.

 

There were an untold number of beautiful stamps dating back almost 100 years that my Dad must have collected as a kid. I was fascinated by their beauty and age and started to wonder what they might be worth, so I made a note about a few of the oldest ones and decided to research them on the Internet.

 

I have to admit I was surprised by what I found.

 

These beautiful 100-year-old stamps were valued at only a few dollars. Sure from a relative perspective they were worth over 100 times their two cent face value, but still, that was hardly the fortune or undiscovered treasure I secretly wished for. But as I continued my research, I suddenly noticed that one of the stamps highlighted on the Internet had a value that would raise any eyebrow. Upon deeper review, however, I discovered that the reason for this was the fact that the highlighted stamp on the Internet had a defect.

 
inverted-jenny-stamp1

This reminded me of one of the most famous and valuable stamps ever printed – the Curtis Jenny. This is a U.S. airmail stamp that recently sold for almost $3 million. Why is it so valuable, you ask? A defect, of course. The airplane on the stamp was accidentally printed upside down.

 

This got me thinking about all of us. When I started thinking about what makes my collection of friends and family so treasured and interesting, it is not the fact that any one of them is perfect, but rather that they are so imperfect. It is their quirks, “defects” and unique qualities that I most appreciate.

 

Simply put, your defect = your value. It is because of your imperfections that you are so valuable.

 

So during this month when we celebrate Valentine’s Day, be sure to take a moment to LOVE and celebrate every imperfect bit of you. Especially your defects. Chances are, that is the precise reason why people truly love you and value your presence in their life!

 

Define your uniqueness to define yourself.

– Debasish Mridha

 

For most of my life, I have wanted to blend in with the crowd. I didn’t want to be recognized or honored. I didn’t want to be considered different. I didn’t want to be unique or special. I simply wanted to be the common man.

 

Man, was that ever stupid!

 

There is nothing wrong with being “one of the guys” and living with the camouflage of being like everyone else. It keeps you safe. But rarely does one notice the lone blade of grass among a huge field. Or the lone black bird in a flock of thousands.

 

No, we tend to notice the oddity of the hummingbird, or the magnificence of a bird of paradise, or the uniqueness of a four leaf clover. It is not until you can identify and celebrate the unique qualities, characteristics and values you possess that you will shine most brilliantly in the world.

 

We all have some unique quality, but few of us are courageous enough to celebrate them like the peacock.

 

I encourage you to share your wonderful gift and spread your beautiful feathers like the peacock, for that is the greatest Valentine’s gift you could give to the world.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.
 
 
Here is a fun video about some characteristics that make some of us unique . . . but perhaps not as unique as you thought.
 

The following is a guest blog written by my friend Dan Galperin at The Man Power Project (www.manpowerproject.com). It is a wonderful essay bridging the month of January, when many of us focus on our goals, and February, the Valentine month, where many of us think of our loved ones.

 

Recently I saw the movie called “Everest” about the 1996 climbing disaster in which 12 people died, including two expedition leaders. The story was also chronicled in the book Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, who was on the expedition and was fortunate enough to reach the summit and get back home to tell the story.

 

One of the team members, Beck Weathers, a confident Texan who aimed to reach “The 7 Summits,” almost lost his life. He described himself as obsessed with work and climbing mountains, which left little room in his life for his family. Weathers was left for dead in a hypothermic coma for fifteen hours in “the death zone” but miraculously survived.
 

Upon rescue, he lost his nose and the majority of both hands to frostbite. “If you can’t learn something from dying, then you are definitely a slow learner,” he reflected years later. “When you know you are going to die, you think about the people you really care about. I used to always live in the future. I’d set a goal, achieve the goal, set another goal. Today, I live in the present and it’s a lot more peaceful. Life is simply better when you get to the point where you are comfortable in your own skin and not trying to define yourself by achievements alone.”
 
everest

Life can feel like climbing Everest, sometimes fun and sometimes arduous. The journey can be absolutely breathtaking when we remember what’s important, but it can be harrowing if we lose our way.
 

Many of us approach our lives with the end in mind and forget to enjoy the journey with the ones who matter most. Achievement can be rewarding and fulfilling, as long as what you really care about is not sacrificed. Achieving to impress others or to validate yourself might lead you off a cliff. But pure inspired achievement sends ripples of positivity out to others. Reaching that summit feels pretty damn good.
 

I do believe in pushing limits, seeing how far we can go and how much we are capable of. There is something beautiful in following your inspiration no matter how daunting or crazy it may seem. When you push the limits for the right reasons, amazing things can unfold.
 

When you lay dying, whether on the inhospitable terrain of Everest or in a comfortable bed surrounded by loved ones at an advanced age, your only regrets will be the lost opportunities to love and connect to others, not the achievements left undone.
 

The only thing that will matter is this: Are you proud of the life that you lived? Truly happy at how you spent your time and energy? Did you make a meaningful difference to other people? Did you give and receive love? Did you keep your heart open to what was wonderful about life or did you get wrapped up in trivialities? Did you stand at the top of your own personal Everest with people you love and enjoy the beauty of it all?
 

If you did, then you achieved something truly special.

A few weeks ago I met with a new client who shared an immensely valuable distinction, especially for this time of year. The client has a $60 million business, wants to grow it to $100 million, and then consistently keep it performing at that level.

 

As you can imagine, this CEO is really busy. He is intensely focused on building and managing his business, not to mention the many additional commitments he has to his family, friends and other interests.

 

Not surprisingly, during one of our early conversations he talked about the challenge of managing all the demands on his time – the competing needs of the business, the infinite requests people make of him, etc.

 

He then shared a distinction that I thought was brilliant . . . and a bit painful to admit. He talked about being busy vs. having priorities.

 

He shared that all too often people say they didn’t get to something because they were busy. Not only did that sound reasonable, but I have to admit that I say that quite often myself. Then he pointed out that we really aren’t “busy,” but rather have other priorities, and YOU or your request isn’t one of them at the moment.

 

If you are like me, I imagine you just cringed. That is a very difficult message to hear. It is even harder to say to someone. It sounds quite harsh. Yet, after thinking about it, that is the truth of what we are really saying when we tell someone we are busy.

 

The words I often say to people echoes in my head – “Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I’ve been really busy.” In some ways, I wear that as a badge of honor, indicating that my business, or life, is going well. However, in thinking more honestly about the underlying truth here, what I really mean is, “Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, but I had other priorities I needed to tend to.”

 

I realize this truth has some sharp edges to it, but the reality is we simply just don’t have time for everything. We have to choose. This is particularly important at this time of year, when many of us are thinking about and setting our goals. We must choose which priorities we will focus on, and which must fall by the wayside, for we simply can’t get to all the things that place demands on our time.

 

If you wish to have a phenomenal 2016, one that is both satisfying and fulfilling, then be sure your focus is on the priorities that will have you achieve what you truly desire.

 
Your priorities aren’t what you SAY they are. They are revealed by how you LIVE.

– Unknown
 

Don’t let the excuse of being “busy” keep you from doing what you enjoy or achieving what you want most.

 

Of course, to do the above you must take some time to understand what you most want this year and get clarity on your priorities. Don’t let another week go by where you have not taken 20 minutes to think about this. That short 20 minute investment will pay dividends all year long!

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.
 
 
Speaking of priorities, here is a fun little video with a test that I found pretty accurate in terms of determining your priorities in life.
 

For This, Be Thankful

I don’t know about you, but this time of year I take the word Thanksgiving literally. I am more grateful for all I have in the world. I silently send thanks to someone for who they are in my life. I am forever grateful for all my possessions, as simple as they may be. And I stop to acknowledge the truly amazing machine my body is and the fact that it keeps going with every breath.

 

In the presence of all this gratitude, I found myself thinking about my Dad and his “buddies” – all over 80 years old. Among them, they had 345 years of experience on this planet. With their fantastic perspective, I wondered what wisdom they had to share about life and gratitude.

 

So I set up a lunch with all of them to hear the wisdom of the ages.

 

I should have known better.:-)

 

Not surprisingly, the conversation did not go as planned, but I was surprised . . . and touched . . . by what emerged.

 

The conversation turned into a LOVEfest! Each one of them acknowledged and appreciated the others for what they bring to the friendship and the group. More than anything else, they spoke about the strength and importance of the relationships and friendships in their life.

 

They appreciated their families, their kids, their wives, their grandchildren, and each other.

 

Interestingly, their jobs, success, businesses and accomplishments were all secondary to the relationships in their life.

 

While I wasn’t surprised by this wisdom, I let their words really sink into my soul after our conversation. All too often I find my life gets sidetracked or my peace is disturbed by my ego, which is more concerned about my superficial successes or accomplishments.

 

Their lifetime of wisdom strongly suggests otherwise.

 

That one jewel of wisdom – that our relationships, friendships and family are the most important thing in our lives – is worth repeating over and over and over again . . . and perhaps that is the true wisdom of the ages.

 

These are all great men with amazing life stories. But in the end, what matters most is WHO they love, not WHAT they have done.

 
boyz7

No matter your age, young or old, take a moment this month to hug all those people who mean something to you. It is clear to me that it is the most important and valuable thing you can do in all your life.

 

Rarely do the members of one family grow up under the same roof.

– Richard Bach, Illusions

 

I love the expansiveness of this quote. There is an abundance of love to be received, and given, in the world . . . if only we allow for it. It is always our own heart that gets in the way of either. And that is our challenge as humans.

 

There is another wonderful quote by Rumi that states, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

 

May this year be the year you practice the wisdom of our elders and fully feel the love around you, and give it back to the world tenfold.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

 
 
Below is a beautiful video of an incredibly successful campaign that spread love, caring and connected-ness throughout the world. May it inspire you to give someone a hug this Thanksgiving.
 

A lot of people wrestle with the big questions in life.

 

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • What is my purpose in life?

 

For many, these questions haunt them.

 

Not long ago, I created an exercise designed to address these questions in a simple way that provides some of the answers that people and businesses search for.

 

As you probably realize by now, I collect quotes. I have a treasure trove of hundreds of them.

 

One day while reading through them, I realized that the picture they paint is a snapshot of who I am – my philosophies; what matters to me; what radiates from the core of my soul. The quotes painted a picture of what most resonates with me and how I live my life.

 

Once I identified this, I realized quotes provide a valuable tool for the work I do. If I asked my clients to pick their Top 10 favorite quotes, I would have a quick and easy snapshot of who they are, how they think, and their approach to life.

 

So, if you are still wondering about your answers to the big questions in life, why not compile a list of your Top 10 favorite quotes and see who and what emerges.

 

If you want a head start, here are two of my favorite sites for quotes –

 

Goodreads

 

Brainy Quote

 

There are no small quotes about the big questions in life.

– Rich Largman

 
BigQ2

There is tremendous value to knowing who you are and answering the big questions in your life. The answers serve as your North Star. They will guide you in your decisions and actions, they will shine a light on your path, they will give you direction, and they will provide never-ending clarity and certainty in your life.

 

One of the most powerful tools I used in the process to define and answer the big questions for myself was a personal mission statement exercise designed by the Covey Leadership Center. If you would like to define your own North Star using this clear and succinct tool, you can download the exercises here: YOUR answers to the Big Questions.

 

Trust me, it is worth the investment of your time!!!

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.
 

Is YOUR FEAR real?

One of the things I love about hiking mountains is that I always learn about life and myself. This held true while climbing Mt. Washington, the tallest mountain in New Hampshire, this past July.

 

The most powerful insight I gained from Mt. Washington was how susceptible we are to the power of suggestion, and how damaging it can be if we are not aware of when it is acting upon us.

 

mtw - warningWhen I arrived at the base of the mountain, there were several signs posted warning of avalanches and falling ice. The rangers I spoke with echoed this warning. While I am never one to do something stupid at elevation, especially when I am hiking alone, I didn’t get a sense that the ranger had a real conviction about his warning. My intuition told me that the trail wasn’t really that bad and that the ranger was erring on the side of caution.

 

So, I decided to take the risk and go up the trail.

 

While it may at first seem like I am about to make a big mistake, I should share that after 30 years of hiking, I enjoy taking measured risks, but rarely, if ever, will I take stupid ones. I decided I would continually assess the trail and if at any time I felt the danger level was too high, I would backtrack and take a safer trail up the mountain.

 

As it turns out, my intuition was right. The trail was not impassable or dangerous. Yes there was snow and ice. Yes the rocks up the vertical ravine were wet and slippery. But at no time did I feel my life was in danger.

 

But here is what did occur along the way.

 

My mind ran with the suggestion that there was danger. All I could think about on this gorgeous day was a huge chunk of ice the size of a Volkswagen barreling down the mountain and crushing me like a bug. The amount of fear I felt was distracting. Butterflies filled my stomach and my legs were unsteady.

 

My mind was preoccupied with what I would do if this did occur. What would be the best way to survive an avalanche in the terrain I was hiking? What rocks would I seek shelter behind? Did my phone have reception to call for help? Was there anyone else on the trail that I could hike with or assess whether the trail ahead was safe?

 

I was completely focused on the fear rather than the beauty and peace of the trail.

 

Sadly, the only place any danger existed was in my head. There was no real danger on the trail. All of my fear was the result of a suggestion of danger.

 

And that’s the thing about fear and worry: we become consumed by something that is not real and does not actually exist, and it takes us out of the reality and beauty of the present moment. And that is a total waste of time and energy.

 

Many of us live our lives in a space of fear and worry that is usually based on a suggestion rather than reality . . . which if you think about it, is the equivalent of living in a land of make believe.

 

At least when we were kids, the land of make believe was something to aspire to and was filled with rainbows, unicorns, lots of candy and happy endings.

 

Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.

After Earth (movie)

 

Never underestimate the power of your mind. While this story demonstrates the power of fear, we must not forget that the mind can also create a powerful positive reality pertaining to something we desire in life.

 

An amazing truth in life is that almost everything in the world around you was created from a thought. That being the case, why not have those thoughts move you toward something you desire rather than something you fear.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

 
 

For a little fun, below is the trailer that contains the above quote from the movie After Earth.
 

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