Take a risk and learn something today…

June 29, 2015

From my favorite source for topic inspiration, the Jack’s Wining Words blog, came this thought –

When you take risks you will find that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.”  (Ellen DeGeneres)

I believe that Ellen’s point is that you can learn something from both successes and failures and that makes them equally important. I posted here recently about not being afraid to take the first step. That advice was aimed at helping people see how to get over the fear of failure that holds many of us back.

take a riskIf you really take Ellen’s advice to heart you’ll actually move to a different level. That level says that we shouldn’t expend a lot of energy ahead of time worrying about possible outcomes and the risk of failing. That is all wasted energy and mental effort. Rather we should focus upon executing the current plan and then learning from it, no matter what the outcome. If we take a risk we go into it knowing that it is a risk and that the outcome may not be what we had hoped. Hopefully we also know what the risk was and remember what the alternative might have been. That way, we can assess the outcome in light of possible alternative for the next time that we try.

Probably the most insane thing that we could do is to take the same risk again without having learned anything from the failure of our first attempt. There is a definition of insanity that says that it is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome each time. Don’t go there. Frustration is the end point of that journey.

Maybe the risk that you can take today is to say “Hi” to that person that you’ve been dying to meet. What’s the worst saying hellothat can happen – probably that they ignore you altogether. Put on a smile and say, “Hello, I’m (your name goes here). How are you today?” You may be surprised that a large number of those people that you greet were just waiting for someone to say “Hi”. And, if that fails, what have you learned? Maybe that person that you thought would be so great to meet isn’t really all that great after all. Or, maybe you need to try a different approach. Try to learn from the experience.

Have a great and educational week ahead – trying new things and learning from your efforts, both successful and the failures.

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Don’t be a whiner…

June 28, 2015

“Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” (Teddy Roosevelt).

I run into quite a few whiners in my real estate business. Usually these are people complaining (whining) about their lives or what fate has done to them. They would rather whine than seek a solution, because they are looking more for whining childsympathy than for resolution of their issues. Besides, it is easier to just stand (sit) there and go, “Woe is me”, than it is to actually try to solve their problems. For many this is behavior that we deeply ingrained during a childhood of whining to get what they wanted. They never outgrew the practice of just whining in place until someone comes to serve or comfort them. One can still imagine them standing in their little cribs whining and crying away the hours until mommy or daddy came to pick them up. Later they found that they could get treats or toys or whatever by continuing the practice of whining.

Now, as adults they have refined their whining techniques but continue to find whining to be a satisfying alternative to actually doing anything about their problems or needs. Whining is a display of the lack of maturity on the part of the whiner. Many have never accepted the fact that, at some point and some age, they became responsible for resolving their own problems. For them, the solution is always to keep complaining about things until someone else solves the problems or comes up with a solution.

I deal with a lot of divorce cases in my real estate business and the whole divorce scenario is prime whining territory. No one ever wants to admit that they might have been at fault; that there was something that they could have done differently to make it a better marriage; that perhaps they contributed to the problems more than to the solutions. They’d rather just whine about it and about the other person and how bad their life had become. Whining and divorce seem to go hand-in-hand.

Do you know some people who are whiners? Do you give in to their complaining or tell them to grow up and get over stop whiningwhatever it is that they are whining about? There are lots of Stop Whining or No Whining signs and posters available that are aimed at this practice. One can also challenge the whiner with the question, “Well, what are YOU going to do about it?” That is the key to really helping a whiner. Don’t commiserate with them; don’t show them the pity that they are seeking; in fact, don’t give them the shoulder that they are seeking to cry upon. If you really want to help them; then help them see that they need to accept the situation and try to find a way to resolve the issues or deal with it. Help turn them from a whiner into a winner. Help them grow up, fess up, own up and stand up. You’ll be glad that you did and they will be, too (maybe not right away, but eventually).

And, if you have a true friend who is brave enough to look you in the eye and tell you to stop whining and start doing something about things, value that friendship, because that person is doing you a big favor. What they are saying to you is – “Don’t be a whiner. Get your head straight and become a winner.” Thank you would be an appropriate thing to say back to them.

Have a great week ahead and remember – No Whining!!!


So, use your brain already…

June 25, 2015

“Humans are distinguished from other species by a massive brain that enables us to imagine a future and influence it by what we do in the present.”  – David Suzuki

brain mapHumans may not have the most massive brain in terms of pure mass; although I’m not sure what other species I could point out that might have bigger brains. Certainly some dolphins have sizeable brains and one would think that some apes have brains that are nearly as large. It’s hard to imagine what the size of an elephant’s brain may be. Both apes and dolphins show a developed intelligence and ability to learn that is quite impressive; however, it’s that part about imagining a different future and then making that future happen through or plans and actions that really sets us apart.

In a recent post I talked about visualization as a technique to achieve success. Visualization involves not only imagining the future but also imagining how to get there – the plan and the execution of that plan. Visualization lets us imagine the perfect execution and the perfect result; it lets us practice in our minds.

Planning and problem solving are also parts of influencing the future to achieve the future that we have imagined.man daydreaming Unlike visualization, which focuses on the execution; planning focuses on the preparation. Planning is the process whereby we fill in the details and beak the journey to that imagined future state into small, executable steps. Problem solving involves adjusting those plans when we encounter the unexpected or when the expected doesn’t go as expected. While problem solving is part of the execution step it involves little side trips back to the drawing board to react and re-plan in order to overcome setbacks. A massive brain helps with those things, too.

Of course, also lurking in that massive brain for many are such things as fear, uncertainty and doubt. There probably are parallels to those things in other animals. We have likely all seen animals cower in fear or stop in their track, uncertain as to whether to proceed. Other things that impact our ability to get to the future that we’ve imagined may involve our emotions, which also reside in that massive brain. Sometimes emotions blind us to obvious cautionary signs or perhaps egg us on when caution would be the better course of action. woman thinkingSome emotions help and some hurt our efforts to get to the imagined future, but all probably have some impact on the speed at which we advance.

An interesting evolutionary quirk is that our massive brains seem to produce a cumulative positive effect on further brain development .As we invent things to get to that better imagined future we continually make out present better and easier. Our massive brains allowed us to evolve from hunter-gathers focused almost solely upon survival into what has become an information-driven society. We created things to do the hard work involved in surviving and that allowed us more time to spend thinking about that different future and the other things that we needed to make. What has a dolphin or an ape ever invented? They may be smart enough to adapt tools from things that they find in their environment, but they never go to the next level. Sure they have “social structures” within groups of their own species, but those are mostly rudimentary hierarchies based upon survival or mating habits.

So, here we are with our massive brains; what do we do with them? Our calling is to use them to imagine a better futureaha moment and then make it happen. Do you spend time every now and then just thinking about the future that you would like to have? What do you do then? Do you just write that off as wishful thinking and go back to your “normal” life? Why? Why not take the next steps and turn your imagination loose on the “how” and not just the “what” of your imagined future. Don’t just imagine something that floats out in front of you like a mirage; image also the road to get to that dream future. See the steps and lay out a plan. Then you can begin using visualization to practice executing those steps. It’s all in there somewhere, in your massive brain, if you will just take the time to use it.

Have a great day and take a little time to imagine what you want and where you want to be in 2 years or 5 years or 10 years. That’s the future that you want to imagine. Then imagine a way to get there. Imagine that.


Get up and show up, or shut up…

June 24, 2015

“Many are called, but few get up.”  (Oliver Herford) That little saying that I first saw on the Jack’s Winning Words blog begs for a follow-on addition – and fewer yet show up.

volunteersI am involved with a few small volunteer groups at my church, with the Milford Historical Society and the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce. Each of these groups depends greatly on the help of volunteers to run event and get things done. They all use some sort of call to action and have things like sign-up sheets and volunteer forms. They put out widespread calls for volunteers in emails, newsletters or from the pulpit. Each also suffers from the malaise indicated by our little quote of the day – many are called but few get up (or sign up). Even worse is the fact that of those who sign up only a portion actually show up to do the work that needs to be done.

It’s relatively easy to sign up for something and then blow it off later. Those people get the “PR benefit” of having your name out there on the list as a volunteer, but then don’t do the work. That’s a little disgusting to those who do show up time after time, which is what normally happens in these little organizations – the same core group ends up doing all of the work for the group. Almost as disgusting are those who show up but consider the task at hand to be socializing rather than actually working – you know the type who take a selfie to post on their Facebook page but never really lift a finger to help.

opinionatedWhat are even more disgusting sometimes are the critical comments that you hear later from people who didn’t volunteer or who volunteered but didn’t show up. These are people who stand back and go “tut, tut; I could have done better than that.” Well, why didn’t you? One just wants to say something to them like “put up or shut up”; but, of course, one doesn’t because that would not be polite. Some of those folks are people who were active in the group for a while and now just rest on the laurels of their bygone volunteer work. Their comments usually start with “Well, when we did that, we…”

I wrote here recently about reacting to the call for help from others and that is an example of the same thing. Many people may hear those calls, but few get up to help. Fewer yet actually show up to help. Perhaps that s because we have made it easier and socially acceptable to just give money, rather than dirty our hands with the work that needs to be done. It is so much easier to just write a check than to get up and show up at the homeless shelter to serve a meal to someone in need. It is safer to drop some money into a collection pot than to visit the inner city to help a person sleeping in a doorway. I must admit that I take that way out (or perhaps that way to feel OK about myself) rather than get up and show up where the work needs to be done.

caregiverOne doesn’t have to sign up for a huge project to save the world. There are many small local organizations in every community doing wonderful things to help and they need your help. Find the local groups like Zonta or the Red Cross or The Wounded Warrior group or your church and find out what they need help with right now. Fortunately there is always something that needs doing and they are always looking for volunteers. Then get up, sign up, and show up.

You may not get an award for your service (that seldom happens) or even much of a thank you from the people that you are helping; but, at the end of the day there’s a spot in your soul that will feel a little warmer and a sense of satisfaction that when you were called you got up and you showed up. If you aren’t going to do that, at least have the good sense to shut up.

Have a great rest of the week.


Take the first step…

June 23, 2015

“You can’t ever take the next step until you take the first.”  (Deacon Jones). Of course, I saw that first on the Jack’s Winning Words blog and it’s an important piece of advice. Many people spend their lives dreaming about something or hoping to someday accomplish some specific thing, but they never take that first step. Others try to skip over taking the first step, hoping that they can jump into something in the middle somewhere – life doesn’t work like that either.
turtleMany things can keep us from talking the first step, but most of the time it’s usually fears. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt or FUD, as we called it in the business world that I was once a part of, was actually a strategic weapon that many companies used to gain advantage or to overcome a disadvantage. In life FUD often has the effect of stopping us from taking those critical first steps towards some goal. Fear of rejection prevents us from asking the girl of our dreams out. Fear of failure stops us from trying a new way of doing something; a way that may well have been the best path to success. Uncertainty makes us hesitate just long enough for the moment that we had been waiting for to pass. Doubts about our looks or our clothes or our abilities or whatever keep us from even trying. Don’t let FUD rule your life. Take the first step.

Another saying that seems to go along with today’s quote was also recently on Jack’s blog – “Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” ― Gena Showalter

I suppose that never taking the first step is a way to sort of “pre-fail” instead of a way to prevail. Some people have theafraid ability to rationalize that avoiding that first step is a good thing, because then they could never fail at whatever it is that they are avoiding. Many of these do nothing people go through life telling themselves that they coulda done it if they wanted to and that they woulda done it had it not been for something that was out of their control. Later in life those same people lament that they shoulda done it when they had the chance. Don’t be a coulda, woulda, shoulda person. Take the first step.

Sometimes that first step can seem very scary; however, as I’ve written here before, I suspect that most of the things that we are afraid of as we step off are things that exist only in our imaginations. The human mind is an amazing fiction writer and, given its head (pun intended) to come up with the worst possible scenarios, it will work overtime to conjure up Lions and Tigers and Bears – oh, my! The good news is that our minds are also a great visualization machines that can show you the path to success. Most great athletes visualizationpractice visualizing their shots or their games. They see themselves being successful. They see the winning putt going in or the three-point shot to win the game hitting nothing but net. Successful business people also use visualization to imagine the perfect presentation or the customer saying yes and signing the contract. You can also use visualization to look ahead and see success in your life. But, before it can make a difference; you must take the first step.

So think about the things that are still on your “to-do” list for life (your bucket-list, if you will); the things that you really wanted or hoped to do someday; the goals that have been floating around in the back of your mind for some time. What’s stopping you? What are you afraid of? Many of the obstacles that you see ahead are real and not imagined; so, you’ll need to visualize yourself overcoming those hurdles. Practice in your mind ten times; a hundred times; as many times as it takes to “see” yourself being successful. Explore the various alternatives and pick the best path to that success for you. Be prepared to deal with setbacks and to capitalize on successes, but most important – take the first step.

Sometimes when you take that first step it will be like the first time you jumped off the high dive at the swimming pool ashigh board a kid. It scared the crap out of you and you were sure that you were going to die or at least feel a lot of pain. But afterwards, when you popped up to the pool surface and realized that you did it and you didn’t hurt yourself, you couldn’t wait to get back up there and do it again. Most things in life that you are afraid of won’t really kill you, even if you fail initially; but, you’ll never feel that exhilaration of having done it and survived until you take the first step.

Look at it this way, yesterday was Monday and you took that first step. That didn’t kill you, so now you can go on to the next step. So, have a great week ahead the journey has just begun because yesterday you took the first step.


Reaching out from the dark side…

June 22, 2015

I get emails about people deciding to “follow” what I’m posting here. I appreciate that others find what I write to be something that they want to read and read more of over time. Hopefully I will be able to keep them interested or amused or both.

I visit every site and blog of everyone who “follows” or “likes” my blog, assuming that they give me enough information to get to their site/blog. Not all do. I may “like” their site in return, but I am so overwhelmed with daily emails now that I seldom choose the follow option, which would result in even more emails every time they post something. I do return from time to time to their sites to see what has been posted, since I was last there.

girl cryingA significantly large number of sites that I visit are filled with posts that have themes that I might classify as “reaching out from the dark side.” These are sites that are posted by people who are in the midst of pain or sorrow or anguish in their lives and apparently find some relief or release in the act of posting missives about their pain or anguish.  I get that. Writing about such things is very cathartic. Many are from what I would describe as “young people” and many are still searching for meaning in their lives. I get that, too.

I’m actually amazed and thankful that more of these people haven’t reached a stage of cynicism where they would lash out and attack a site like mine that may be perceived as having simplistic and overly positive advice for dealing with life. The “don’t worry; be happy” message that I often post may not only fall on deaf ears, but can actually offend those who are intent on being unhappy. By-and-large the people whom I mightsurrounded by sharks anger make up a relatively small group. Most people would rather be happy in their lives, but many don’t know how to fight the depression or despair that they are faced with on a day-to-day basis.

I hope that’s where my little blog comes in handy. The people who don’t want to be helped probably don’t reach out through blogging or most other means of communicating. I think that those who do share their mental state and the things that have put them there are asking for understanding AND help through their blogs. Help doesn’t necessarily mean professional help; most of the time it just means that they would like someone to sit with, to share with and to commiserate with. You can be that someone by reading their blog and leaving a comment or sharing a private message of support. Sometimes just finding a way to say, “Me too”, is enough, because it lets them know that they are not alone.

dark alleyThink of it this way – You are walking down the street and pass a dark alley. From the darkness comes a faint voice
that you hear calling out, “Help me.”  What do you do? Do you hurry your step so that you can get past the alley quicker or do you look in to see who it is that is calling for help? Do you enter the alley and try to help or do you turn instead and walk away? Yes, it is a bit scary. After all I did say that the calls come from a dark alley – places that are unfamiliar to us; places that we’d never go (or so we think), places that are dark. People can appear to be scary when they are depressed, even if they are not standing in an alley.

Life is full of those moments. People all around us are quietly calling for help. Some are calling out from the dark alleys of society (the dark side) but most are just calling you from right next door. These are your neighbors and co-workers, the people that you go to church with and the people that you socialize with on a regular basis. Do you recognize their calls for help? Do they need to scream at you to be heard? Are you so wrapped up in yourself that you cannot see or hear their pain, their needs? When they reach out will you be ready to help or will you turn away and hurry on about your business, afraid to get involved?

And, what if it is you who need the help? What do you think the poor traveler who had been beaten and robbed alongGood Samatitanthe road thought of the people who chose to ignore him lying there, until the Good Samaritan came along? What were those others thinking anyway? Do you relate more to them than to the Samaritan? After all, you have places to go and people to see; you can’t be bothered to help that poor fellow standing at the side of the road with his little sign. Maybe he did something to deserve his fate, you think. He’s not one of us, anyway; so, it’s best to just ignore him and pass him by. Do you think he understood? Do you think he forgave you?

So the lesson is that if you can help you should; because, someday it may be you standing at the end of that dark alley calling out for help or alongside the road with your little sign. Have a great week ahead and keep your eyes open and helping handsyour ear tuned for those calls for help. You can make a positive difference in somebody’s life this week just by answering the call – Hi, do you need help. Can I help? How can I help? Want to talk about what’s wrong? I’m so sorry, tell me about it.

Go for it. They’ll be glad you did and so will you. Reach into that dark place and pull someone into the light of the Son.


Look for the rainbow or be the rainbow…

June 21, 2015

“Everyone wants happiness.  No one wants pain.  But you can’t make a rainbow, without a little rain.”  (Quoted by Dolly Parton) – A quote seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time ago.

single momIt’s certainly true that life throws us curveballs from time to time; sometimes much worse than that. Life happens and sometimes it involves pain – the loss of a loved one, the breakup of a relationship or friendship or maybe a major disappointment or disruption at work or the loss of a job or perhaps just overwhelming bills an d problems.  We live through these things somehow, but for some that is it – they just survive and live on in misery, unable to let go or go on with normal life. All that they see is the darkness. They aren’t even looking for the rainbow.

It’s important, when you encounter someone like that, that you try to help them find a rainbow in their life, something positive that they can embrace that will let them move on.  Maybe that rainbow is you and your caring friendship. One of the hallmarks of the depression that can set in with the pain is the feeling of beingcaring alone, of feeling like you are the only one who has ever experienced what you are going through. That isolation is self-imposed and  just adds to the problem.  Just being there for that person, so that they don’t feel alone can make all of the difference.

If you’re the one who has suffered a setback in life, it’s important to be able to see past the current trouble and find a rainbow in your life that makes you happy. For many that may be their spouse or their children. For some the rainbow may be their faith, which can certainly be a source of strength and happiness, if you let it into your life.

I think one important note is that you will likely find what you are looking for. If you are a doom and gloom person who is always looking for the worst to happen then it probably will (many times with your help). If, on the other hand, you have rainbow in betweena positive and upbeat attitude, then things will work out and you’ll find your rainbow. That choice is up to you.

So try to find the rainbows in your everyday life and step up and be the rainbow for someone else. else. You’ll be surprised if you do that because you will see the rare double rainbow.