Be the person that you would like to be…

March 13, 2017

I attended a very good real estate training session last week, put on my Steve Woodruff of The Woodruff Group. Steve is a well-known in the real estate world as a great motivational speaker and trainer. I came away with enough sayings from that session to last me a long time here, especially when I combine them with things that I get from Jack Freed in his blog Jack’s Winning Words.

One of the first good quotes from Steve was this one – “How would the person that I would like to be do what I’m about to do?” Some might try to substitute the little phrase WWJD“What would Jesus do?”, but I submit that doing so abstracts the process too much. These are our decisions to make and it is up to us to make them. Perhaps a better way to phrase that last saying might be to ask yourself, “What would a person who follows the teachings of Jesus do?” That at least brings us full-circle back to thinking about the person that we’d like to be – a person who follows the teachings of Jesus.

Bringing up thinking leads us to a little quote from Jack’s blog –

“Many problems in life are caused because we act without thinking or because we think without acting.”  (Unknown)

How often do we see an injustice or someone in need and just pass the situation by, thinking that we don’t have time for that right now?  That leads to the second quote from Jack’s blog –

“How soon, not now, becomes never!” – Martin Luther

Perhaps the situation is one that requires that you break away a bit from the norm and gopredjuices against the stream of what appears to be commonly accepted practice. That requires courage and a strong belief that what you are about to do is the right thing, the thing that the person that you wish to be would do. Steve had a great quote for that –

“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it’s conformity.” – Rollo May

It takes courage to stand up for the person being bullied. It takes courage to befriend the person in your class who is “different”. It takes courage to stop hiding in the closet and come out and live the life that you were born to live. It takes courage to admit that you need help and seek it. It takes courage to stand on the opposite side of the police line and courageprotest the treatment of people of color or ethnicity. It takes courage to stand up and say that I will not be treated like an object anymore or take any more of your abuse. It takes courage to decide that you are not going to continue to “go along to get along” anymore. Be the person that you would like to be and act now, before “not now” becomes never in your life.

Many people like to play the role of the victim. They are constantly complaining about what others have done to them or done that holds them back. Steve had a great quote for that, too.

Do not complain about what you permit – Anon

I found a great follow-on to that quote – No one can “walk all over you” unless you lay down and let them. – Maria Moore

The point to both quotes is that you control what happens to you – the situations that you life-choicesget yourself into and the reactions that you have to them. Ask yourself how the person that you would like to be would act and react in those situations. Would that person show courage or cowardice? Would that person act without thinking or think about it without acting and perhaps let not now become never?

A great way to start off this week is to take a moment before you dive into your normal workday life and think about another short series of quotes from Steve Woodruff –

Success is a choice not a circumstance – make the choice and act upon it

Take Responsibility – It’s your life and no one else can live it for you and make the decisions for you unless you lay down and let then walk over you

Attack your Fears – Fears, uncertainty and doubts are just temporary roadblocks that life throws up in front of us. Do not let them stop you. Attacked them, overcome them and move on.

Invent your Future – Become that person that you would like to be and you will have the life that you’ve dreamed of living.

Have a great week ahead.


Put it behind you and get on with life…

February 18, 2017

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Too many of us don’t heed the words of Emerson and start each day with a heavy load of baggage from the past. Those who can start each day with a “that was then, this is now”baggage frame of mind have a huge advantage in life. The absurdity of clinging to the past is demonstrated in the ads for Let Go, the web site for selling stuff that you don’t really need anymore. A person dangling over a cliff but stubbornly holding onto a bowling ball is no more absurd than us carrying around the worry or guilt about something that has already happened or may happen some time in the future. There is little that we can really do about either, but they both could consume immense amounts of our time and energy.

It is important that we move sad memories of losses of loved ones from the front of our minds, where they may weigh us down, to a place in the fond memories section of our minds, where we can revisit the memories of good times as often aas we’d like.  Worry and fear about things that may happen in the future need to be placed in little metal boxes and put aside to be opened and dealt with, should any of those things come to pass. Mistakes made yesterday need to be assigned a place in our mind’s knowledge base under the lessons learned category.

It might be helpful to end eacerasing-blackboardh day by putting away the things that you’ve been thinking about or worrying about or regret having done. File a place to file them in your mind or resolve to discard them, but don’t keep them for tomorrow. Those things, those mistakes, those doubts, those losses are over, so let them go. They are so yesterday. Erase them as you would a blackboard at school. Tomorrow you start with a clean slate that has yet to have any failures or successes written upon it.

Perhaps using a standard little business trick might help. The first step is to write down those things that you are carrying around with you from the past. Then prioritize that list from most important to least important. Then work your way down the list, using the thought process:

  • Is there anything that I can do to change this? (If it is in the past, the obvious answer is NO)
  • If I can’t change it, is there any value in keeping it in mind?
  • What can learn from this to help me in the future?
  • How can I let go of this?

Just going through that process may help you put the things on your list in the right perspective in your mind. It will, at a minimum put a less emotional and more rationalwoman-praying light on them. If you feel that yo still need a little more help in dealing with them, remember that God is always right there, ready to offload any burden that you want to give Him. The serenity that Emerson mentioned may be found in the act of prayer and the decision to let’s God’s will for you to prevail.

Have a great and unencumbered long weekend. Put all of yesterday’s nonsense behind you and get on with life.

Leveraging diversity at work and in life…

January 18, 2017

I read a good article by Sally Krawcheck recently that focused upon the question – Why are we still asking women to act like men at work?  If you don’t know who Sally Krawcheck is go read the article and follow the links from her name that are there. She has quite an impressive resume.

Krawcheck was making the point in this article that diversity in the workplace has real value to companies, by giving them a wider perspective on the needs of the market, as well as a better knowledge base from which to make business decisions. She focused in the embrace diversityarticle upon the tendency in business to recommend (even demand) that women act more like the men in the business, in order to be successful and to be taken seriously. She makes a good case that diversity of thoughts and opinions, in this case letting women be women in business, makes more sense and leads to better decision making.

The same logic can apply to life in general. There is a tendency, based upon staying in our comfort zones, for people to surround themselves with other people who are just like them. The tendency drives them to create or join organizations that are populated by arrogantpeople like themselves. Many social clubs and churches are good examples of that tendency in practice. The same stagnation and self-serving, if wrongheaded, decision making that Krawcheck says can occur in businesses because of a lack of diversity also sets in at those more or less homogeneous clubs and churches over time. Due to the changing demographics in the general population, these insular organizations eventually wither and die, due to the inability to attract enough people “just like us” to sustain the organization. More successful organizations embrace diversity and thrive because of the wider pool of potential members that comes along with diversity.

At the root of the lack of diversity at work and in our lives may well be doubts or insecurity with our own role and place in life. The different opinions or points of view about things disagreement2can be perceived as threats to our own view of things. We see the admission that someone else’s’ opinion about something being accepted as “right” must mean that our opinion is “wrong”. A more correct way to look at things is that both opinions or points of view have merit and should both be taken into account when making decisions. In business, to do any less is potentially to immediately discount an entire segment of the population and possibly to lose them as customers. In life, to do so is to ignore some solutions or answers and to limit the possible solutions to a problem. You may even discover that having the insight of another person’s point of view (especially someone not like you) will lead you to the conclusion that something that you saw as a threat or problem was not a problem at all, but rather an opportunity for you to grow as a person.

Back when I was in the corporate world (and the seems like a lifetime ago) I would, about once a month, join a group of women from the office who regularly went to lunch together. I told them that I was getting in touch with my feminine side, which they found amusing. I seldom got a word in edgewise on these luncheons, but it was fascinating and interesting to sit and listen to the conversations that went on over their lunches. The part that was most in contrast to lunches with the men in the office was the ability of the women to share their life experiences with one another, rather than just banter about work. Men’s lunches tended to be all about the business, whereas the women lunches tended to focus upon life and family and other “people-oriented” topics. Sure, there was also some sharing of office gossip, but mostly it was sharing at a level that invited empathy and shared concerns. The men’s groups were always very guarded about anything like that from their personal lives.

In her article Krawcheck used a great analogy for both business and life. She said that different-points-of-viewbuilding a good team (at work) or support group (in life) can be thought of like building a good basketball team. In her words – “it’s hard to build a national championship team if your players are all point guards.” The same is true of the teams that you might be on at work. You need different skills and different points of view in order to make good decisions. I life you need a diverse set of friends around you as a support group for your life decisions and crises.

I recall watching the TV show Queer eye for the straight guy in which a group of gay men would help with the makeover of a straight guy each week. There were experts on the gay makeover team for personal grooming, clothing, cooking and home decor. Some of the members of that show are still on TV on other shows, such as Chopped. Each week some guy would be proposed for a makeover, usually recommended by friends and family. It was the totally different point of view of the gay makeover team that drove the dramatic changes that most of the participants underwent. Most of us probably don’t need to go to that extreme, but all of us could use the advice that we can only get from having a more diverse set of friends around us. Somebody has to say “yes” when we ask, “does this outfit make me look fat?” Then maybe they can help us make better choices in clothes and in life.

diversitySo, the take-away for work and life is to encourage and embrace diversity and to understand how to leverage that diversity in order to make better decisions. After you stop being amazed that anyone would see things that way that a person “different” from you might see them; you then need to make the effort to understand why and to let that understanding help you take that wider view of the decisions that you need to make. You’ll make better decisions at work and in life.

Get up close and personal…

June 7, 2016

“It’s hard to hate up close.”  (James Comey, FBI Director)  – re-blogged from the Jack’s Winning Ways blog. Jack went on to write – Do you remember the song from The King and I?…“Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you.  Getting to feel free and easy When I am with you.”  Director Comey believes that police and citizens should have more face to face contact.  Studies show that most of us have a racial bias and use mental shortcuts when meeting “different” people.

Today’s blog title comes from the old ABC Sports coverage on TV, where they would get “Up close and personal” with various athletes that they were covering. It was a way of letting their audience know the life story behind the athlete – to get to know them.

I find Director Comey’s observations on prejudice and hate to be especially true. It is so easy to sit at home watching news events unfold on the evening news and to form criminalprejudicial thoughts about people that you see on the screen, especially people who are “different”. Sometimes when a story about a crime starts on the news I find myself having pre-conceived notions about what the perpetrator will look like if they show a picture later in the story. Many times I am wrong, but my own prejudices have taken over.

Perhaps we all allow something like that to happen in our lives. Maybe we see someone coming towards us and notice a tattoo or a nose ring or lip bead or maybe blue or purple hair; and, without any personal knowledge to go on about tatooed girlthat person, we form an opinion about that person; an opinion that prejudices our feelings about them without a word being spoken. Does something like that ever happen with you? You may pick your own set of visual cues.

Those instances in our lives are probably the times when we should try our hardest to put those prejudices behind us and get up close and personal with the person that we’ve just encountered. Life doesn’t always give us that opportunity; however, each encounter is an opportunity for you learn from and better control your own reactions.

Make it a practice to ask yourself after each unjustified negative reaction why you feel that way. Ask yourself what do you know about this person that would cause you to automatically fear or hate them? If the only thing that you come up with is that they look different and somehow menacing, then you have encountered prejudice within yourself and need to focus some time and prayer on resolving that personal flaw.talking-2

One of the better ways to work on prejudices that you may have is to take the ABC Sports approach and get up close and personal – take the time to really talk with and understand the other person – their background and point of view. Maybe it would help to star by saying to yourself that everyone you meet is someone’s child or parent, someone’s mate or friend, someone’s brother or sister, someone. Until you know who that someone really is, you really don’t know them well enough to form an opinion about them – to hate them or fear them.

Once you do that, you may find that Director Comey is right. It’s hard to hate someone
that you have met up close and personal. You are far more likely to have empathy with their life situation, or perhaps be ready to offer help, than you are to just hate them for different peoplewhat and who they are. In fact you may end up loving what or who they are and the free spirit within them that gives them the freedom to be “different.”

So, today, take the time to get up close and personal with someone that you may have avoided in the past or someone that you may have had a prejudicial reaction to when you first met. Understand them as a person. Listen to their story and see if you still feel the same about them now that you have gotten up close and personal. You may find that the opening quote is true – It’s hard to hate up close.


Don’t be distracted; get real…again!

December 7, 2014

“The whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone.”  (W. Clement Stone) This little quote from a recent  Jack’s Winning Words blog post was one that I copied and put aside, knowing that there are things to write about contained in Stone’s thought.

emailAn image immediately came to mind of me headed to my computer with a task in mind, only to see that I have some new eMail and getting sidetracked dealing with it. I feel the need to answer some right away or to delete others. Soon I’m walking away, satisfied that I have handled the eMail task at hand and completely forgetting what I went to the computer for in the first place. Has that ever happened to you?

The second thing that comes to mind is a bit more disturbing. It seems to me that the rapid rise of the smartphones and tablets is creating a whole generation of people who are more concerned with what’s happening in the palm of their hands than is what’s going ontablet computer around them. Don’t take me completely wrong. I love what I can do with and on my smartphone and I’m guilty of spending way too much time looking down at the palm of my hand at my phone. What’s concerning is that there may be a generation who are becoming somewhat disconnected from reality; because, for them, reality is what’s going on in that tiny screen. They spend more time with it that they do in face-to-face encounters. I read recently that breaking up with someone via a text message is now fairly common and accepted. How cold is that?

I have found that the ubiquity of Google has taken over a part of my life. I no longer look things up or ask someone – I Google whatever it is that I need to know. That’s both convenient and somewhat sad at the same time. Fortunately that and checking eMail are the primary smartphone intrusions into my life.

I recall, when I was much younger, that some behavioral scientists of the day were similarly concerned about the impact of television on children, especially when TV kids watching TVbecame sort of a pseudo babysitter that parents could plop their kids down in front of for hours. That fear has largely proven to be unfounded. I suspect that is because watching TV, while captivating, is a very passive thing. Using one’s smartphone is interactive and, for some, about as involved as they get with much of their life. With smart-phone based technologies such as eMail, texting, Skype, video conferencing and other interactive means of communicating with another person without being there, it is possible to go for long periods feeling like you are connected without ever actually being with another human being. How scary it that?

So, getting back to our opening quote; maybe what needs to be left undone is some of this artificial “communications” and to get back to more one-on-one real face time with others. Posting on my Facebook wall or sending me a Tweet is not really the same. Try sitting down together at a Starbucks and not sitting at two different Starbucks texting each other. If you want to know where I am and what I’m doing…find me and ask me directly. At that point I’ll be with you and talking to you. What could be better?

Vincent Nichols was on to it, when he said – “We’re losing social skills, the human interaction skills, how to read a person’s mood, to read their body language, how to be patient until the moment is right to make or press a point. Too much exclusive use of electronic information dehumanises what is a very, very important part of community life and living together.”  I’m pretty sure that he had our modern smartphones in mind when he said that.

The good news is that we still have the capacity for the things that we have allowed our distractions to keep us from. As Nicholas A. Christakis put it – “Social media and the Internet haven’t changed our capacity for social interaction any more than the Internet has changed our ability to be in love or our basic propensity to violence, because those are such fundamental human attributes.” The key then is to leave undone some of the things that we allow to distract us and get back in touch with our human capacities and attributes. Put down the smartphone and look around you at the real people in your world. OMG!