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.


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.



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 –




Brainy Quote


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

– Rich Largman


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!!!



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.




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

I think it would be fair to say that I am an avid outdoor enthusiast. Hiking, biking, walking, kayaking – anything that gets me out in Nature. Others would add that I am an environmentalist, having spent many years protecting the environment and teaching hundreds of young adults to care about the natural world around them.


So you can imagine my surprise on a recent kayaking trip down the Delaware River, with osprey and bald eagle circling overhead, when I saw a billboard on the riverbank announcing, “Hot Dog Man Around the Corner.”


First of all, rivers don’t have corners, they have bends. Second of all, rather than be upset that such commercialism has polluted the river, something about this just made me smile. As I rounded the bend, I saw close to 100 people in tubes, kayaks and canoes waiting to buy a hot dog or snack.


hot dog1When I paddled by, I admired this perfect scene of Americana and thought to myself, “That right there is the entrepreneurial lifeblood that fuels this country.” Someone saw an opportunity – hundreds of people floating down the river each day – and took advantage of it by setting up a mobile snack shack on their boat.


This brought to mind a billboard I saw on Interstate 95 a few years ago on the way to Philadelphia which proclaimed, “Microsoft was started during a recession.” I loved both the hope of this message as well as its encouraging, if not bold, challenge to all the dreamers and entrepreneurs in the world. Essentially, it was saying, “Go for it! Don’t be afraid to try!”


This is what I love about America and working with entrepreneurs and business owners. They go for it! The blood that courses through their veins is rich with possibility. They see what CAN be, take the risk, and set out to make it reality.


In some cultures they would call that magic, for they are creating something from nothing. In America, we call it the entrepreneurial spirit.


They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.

– Edgar Allen Poe


Entrepreneurs and business owners daydream a lot and live in a world of possibility. They are future-focused, proactive and constantly ask themselves, “How can I . . .? They rarely take “no” for an answer and they are the fuel that powers the American workforce.


However, I think this is true of Americans as a whole. We daydream a lot. We see things as they can be or as we hope them to be. It is a spirit of possibility that was planted within us at the birth of our country and it is programmed into our DNA . . . which means we are ALL capable of performing magic and transforming our lives if we have the desire.



If you don’t believe that spirit is within you, think back to when you were a kid. That is where you will find the belief you seek. It is still there . . . it is just covered with the dust of adulthood.

Recently, I went out to dinner with my niece and nephew. They are 3 and 4 ½. I LOVE spending time with them. They are a tremendous amount of fun and their eyes are always wide with possibility. They not only see things as they are, but they also see into the infinite realm of their limitless imagination.


After dinner, we went out to “explore.” This often turns into a game of observing the ordinary and making it extraordinary. Essentially, I let their imaginations run free, and I simply follow in the wake of that possibility. It is always a magnificent and fun experience for me.


On this particular evening we were gazing out from a patio, across a street and into a train station parking lot. The kids would share what they see, shouting out each announcement as if they had just discovered an amazing treasure. “I see a car!” “I see a bird!” “I see a flower!” I would acknowledge their tremendous find with equal excitement.


I see a purple tree!” shouted my nephew.


purple tree1Huh? You see a purple tree? Where?” I am always careful not to deny their possibility, imagination, or world as they see it, but a purple tree? Come on. I stared and I stared and I stared, but I could not see it. Of course, we all know trees are green. I kept asking where he saw the purple tree, wanting to get into his world. He kept pointing and insisting right there. Still, I could not see it. I would have sworn he was recalling a cartoon or perhaps a Dr. Seuss book.


Finally, after a good 30 seconds to a minute, I saw it. “Hmm. Look at that. A purple tree.” It was right there in front of me the whole time, yet, I did not see it. They were plum trees or perhaps Japanese maple trees.


The weeks following this experience, I saw a lot of purple trees. My eyes were wider with possibility. I didn’t just see trees as the green I expected them to be, I saw them as they truly are. And as a result, my world became more colorful.


I am continually amazed by how knowledge, wisdom and experience blind us not only to infinite possibility, but also to the world right in front of our eyes. As we are told, or learn, what is “right,” we eliminate what is possible. Our world shrinks, and we become more blind. This is one of the key reasons I LOVE and prefer to immerse myself into the world of children. They continually pave a path to limitless possibility and hope.


Where have you gone blind in your life? Can you no longer see what is in front of you? Can you see beyond what you know to be true into what is possible?


If, and when, your world gets smaller, take some time to connect with children. Suddenly you will see things you never have, or that you might have been missing for quite some time.


It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.

– Epictetis


If you want to miss out on the magnificence of life, live it as if you already know. Pretend you know all the answers. Pretend you know exactly how a person is. Pretend you know exactly what will happen next. Pretend you know what your life will look like because of what happened yesterday. Pretend you know what works and what doesn’t.


Just keep in mind . . . it is all pretend.



New Hope, PA. is one of my favorite places to go once the weather gets nice. It sits on the Delaware River across from Lambertville, NJ and it has this incredibly unique, eclectic vibe. Bikers decked out in leather hang out alongside a prominent lesbian/gay community. Cool NY-style art galleries sit beside witchcraft and body piercing stores. Family ice cream shops sit across from crowded outdoor bars. The streets pulse with life, cars cruise the main road through town, and there is more artwork on people’s bodies than in its art galleries. It is a town on the fringe, accepting of everyone, and the people-watching is GREAT!


Across the river, a short ¼ mile walk over a bridge sits Lambertville. The vibe is very different there. It is more staid and proper. The art galleries, stores and restaurants are more upscale and tame. There are no bikers, no witchcraft stores or crazy bars, and a lot fewer tattoos and piercings walk the streets. It is, well, more “normal.”


These two towns are a perfect demonstration of what I have been hearing and reading a lot about lately . . . “culture.” I have seen it so many times in the past few weeks that I wonder if it is about to become the latest buzzword. Regardless of whether or not it becomes the next hot jargon term, culture is important to all of us.


vibe1I think most of us relate to culture more as a vibe. It is something we sense about a person, family, organization, town, university, company, restaurant . . . anything really. We sense it immediately; within seconds of experiencing it. And it subconsciously determines how we interact with whom or what we are experiencing. Do we want to hang out with that person? Do we like that family? Do we want to go to that school? Do we want to do business with, or work for, that company? Are we going to rave about that new restaurant?


We assess a vibe and like or dislike it immediately, but it takes a very conscious and concerted effort to create . . . or at least it should. Establishing a vibe is vital to your future, whether you are an individual or an organization. It will determine the type of people you attract into your life and the type of customers you have in your business. Yet, too many of us ignore it or leave it up to circumstance, letting it emerge willy-nilly rather than with intent.


What we need to realize is that every action we take, and every belief we hold, adds up to our vibe or culture. They form who we are and how we will be defined. As such, we should be very conscious about our decisions and actions, and think about how they contribute to, or detract from, whom we want to be and how we want to be known in the world.


Sadly, not enough people and companies are consciously creating their vibe or culture. As a result, events and the reactions to them, dictate who they are.


If that is occurring for you or your company, you are letting the “outside world” dictate and define who you are, rather than letting that come from your heart and spirit. And if that is the case, at some point you will most likely find yourself unhappy in your life or business and you will want to change who you have become.


If you don’t run your life, someone else will.



If you are not consciously creating how you want to be seen in the world, then someone, or something, else will do it for you. It is that simple. Do not surrender your power this way. Take time to think about how you, or your company, wants to be known. Then take the necessary actions to create that vibe.


Can’t think of anyone better who essentially posed this question to all of us. :-)

I always wanted to master the ability to do HANDstands. They just seem like so much fun and an expression of strength and balance.


However, before I could do a HANDstand, I decided I should probably master a HEADstand. I felt it was a stepping stone since you have to be upside down for both. And I decided to master this one step at a time. First I would master HEADstands using the wall as a support, then I would master free-standing headstands, and finally I would move on to handstands.


I accomplished the first step pretty easily. I gave myself 3 months to figure it out, but I had it down inside of a week. I felt quite confident knowing the wall was always there to support and “catch” me.


Step two I found much harder. I could be free from the wall for a few seconds at a time, but then my balance would falter and my feet would always fall back to it for support and reassurance.


I spent at least 3 months in this space, making little, if any, progress. I would last a few seconds away from the crutch of the wall, but without fail, my feet fell back to it, or worse, I fell out of the headstand all together. I was getting quite discouraged and wondered if I would ever succeed.


Then the happy accident occurred.


HeadStand 1One day while I was doing a headstand, it just felt right to stretch out my body as long as I could make it. As I was inverted, I decided to lengthen and tighten my core, and stretch my legs as far to the ceiling as I could make them go. And that’s when it happened.


I suddenly felt a balance, strength and centeredness I had never felt before. The next thing I knew, I could do a free standing headstand away from the wall for several seconds, maybe even 10 seconds!


Something about stretching my body out, tightening my core, and reaching for the ceiling with my feet was the secret to finding balance and mastering this next stage. I hardly noticed it when it first happened, but then I realized this was the key to achieving the next stage.


Often, success does not happen with a big epiphany or a grandiose “Eureka!” moment. More times than not, success happens with a barely perceptible, small, incremental difference or shift you make in your efforts.


If you have been struggling with a success in your life, rather than frustrate yourself by trying to make a big leap, I encourage you think about a small change you can make. Then pay close attention to the results, for it may produce a surprising result.


The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’, but ‘Hmm, that’s funny…

– Isaac Asimov


Too often we focus only on the big eureka moment, thinking that taking big steps will get us to our goal faster. But more times than not, the small, almost imperceptible changes are the ones that open the doorway to the success we desire.


Often times, we stumble across these successes after many, many attempts. One of the the biggest differentiators between success and failure is determination. It took Edison thousands of tries to develop a battery. But he never was discouraged by his failed attempts. Instead, his perspective was, “I have not failed. I’ve just found thousands of ways that won’t work.”



To see how these small, barely perceptible incremental differences matter and can be the difference between a champion and . . . whoever comes in second, check out the video below.


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