Friday, October 26, 2012

Heroes

Heros

Remember when athletes were heroes?  I clearly remember when I was a kid cheering for the New York Giants and feeling terrible when the other team knocked out Y.A. Tittle on a frozen gridiron; and listening to those epic battles between Bill Russell (he was and still is my favorite) and Wilt Chamberlain on the radio; and staying up late to hear the boxing match when Cassius Clay knocked out Floyd Patterson. I remember Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Jackie Robinson – baseball players who were large in life and cherished on baseball cards? And what about those American hockey players who won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics – we shared the thrill of victory outrunning the agony of defeat. Those were the kinds of heroes that we looked up to: they won and lost… honestly, and proudly.

So this week’s news about Lance Armstrong being stripped of all his Tour de France victories was terribly disappointing.  It’s sad when athletes who have so much going for them turn out to be more interested in winning at all costs than competing fairly.  What happened to “it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game”? Remember Bruce Jenner and Marylou Retton: they were proud to win, and proud to have their pictures on a box of Wheaties.  They inspired us to do and be more.

I guess we have to look beyond the bizarre behavior of the greedy and take note of those who work hard, care a lot, compete fairly and accept what happens with grace.  You’ll find them everywhere: at work and play, in the groups of people you hang with, and in the neighborhoods where you live. They are, or should be, our role models, and while they may be athletes, more often they’re regular, soft-spoken and humble people we know and are around most of the time: friends, parents, siblings, neighbors, and good Samaritans in the news.  Look around today and note all the good people who influence you by their beliefs and behaviors.  And then strive to be like them… because they’re the real heroes.

My message this week is about being proud of who and what you are:

"The key to a happy life is to have accomplishments to be proud of and purpose to look forward to.” 

Jeff Lindsay

Jeff Lindsay is the pen name of American playwright and crime novelist Jeffry P. Freundlich (born July 14, 1952), best known for his novels about sociopathic vigilante Dexter Morgan.

Are you happy? Not the kind of happy where you’re laughing or walking around with a silly grin on your face, but rather the kind that makes you feel good about yourself.   And the key to feeling good about yourself is knowing who you are and what you’re capable of, and having the knowledge, skills and abilities that are born of experience and confidence, and using those competencies to do good things for those who are counting on you, and believing you’re okay and feeling good about that.  Put these into place in your life and you’ll have accomplishments to be proud of and purpose to look forward to.  And then you’ll be happy, and those around you will be happy, and success will more easily be yours!

Stay well!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wooly Bear Caterpillars


Wooly Bear Caterpillars

Last fall a farmer I know pointed out that there were way more apples on the trees than normal and he said that was a clear sign that it was going to be a long, hard winter.  Wrong – it was probably one of the mildest winters in history.

Last week a neighbor pointed out the brownish stripes on several wooly bear caterpillars:  a sure sign, he said, that it’s going to be a mild winter.  According to legend, the wider that middle brown section is, the milder the coming winter will be. Conversely, a narrow brown band is said to predict a harsh winter.  But who knows if that’s really true.

Throughout history there have been good years and bad, good winters and hard winters, more rain and less rain; people just accepted those things and took them in stride.  These days there’s a feeling that we need to make more sense out of things, but it’s not that simple because unfortunately there are no simple explanations for the complexities of life. There are still things like weather and human behaviors that have far too many variables to be explained simply.  But that doesn’t stop us from always looking to understand “why”.

I saw dozens of wooly bear caterpillars last week and to me it looked like their brownish strips were growing longer.  But we won’t know what that means until next spring when we look back and see what kind of winter it really was.  And that’s the way it is with most things.  Until then, I’ll just bundle up on the cold and rainy days, and turn my face to the sky on those days when the sun shines warmly.  And take each day as it comes!

My message this week is about innovation and how people make things better:

"Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Marie Steinem (born March 25, 1934) is an American feminist, journalist, and social and political activist who became nationally recognized as a leader of, and media spokeswoman for, the women's liberation movement in the late 1960s and 1970s.

What do you dream about at work?  You should also be dreaming about the kinds of things that can help make what you’re doing to be easier and better. Everyone thinks that supervisors and process improvement specialists are the only ones who can do this, but the people doing the work, talking to the customers, touching the products, and delivering the services are the ones who have the experience and knowledge, and the best perspective, to know what’s really happening and whether improvements are needed.  They’re the ones who should be encouraged to imagine and recommend the exciting improvements that are possible, and to help determine what can be achieved.  That’s the best way to use your imagination and dreams today.  So, dream on!

Stay well!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Coming Home




Coming Home

Last week when traveling home I noticed a military man in uniform on our plane.  As we landed, the attendant asked us to remain seated to allow this soldier to exit first; he was escorting a fallen comrade home and needed to meet the casket as it was unloaded from the plane.

After everyone got off the plane, all of the passengers gathered at the windows in the terminal to watch this sad procession: men and women, young and old, black and white, soldier and civilian stood there silently and witnessed this very moving event.  On the tarmac next to the hearse were the family, an honor guard, and all of the ground maintenance staff – at attention, with their emotions clearly displayed.

The terminal was silent.  The crowd stood at attention.  And as the flag-draped casket was lowered into the arms of the honor guard, the soldiers saluted, the family consoled one another, and everyone in the terminal wept.

No matter what we think of war, fallen soldiers touch us all.  Every generation suffers war, and none has found a way to prevent it.  Every one of us is touched in some way by those who fight, and we can’t thank them enough for their brave efforts.

So we salute and cry, and reflect, when faced with a scene like this.

We need to do more.  If you see a soldier today, thank him or her; they serve and fight for all of us. Let’s hope and pray they all come home safely and soon.

Amen.

My message this week is about integrity:

"Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way." 

-Aristotle

Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) had a profound influence on the philosophical and theological thinking in the Islamic and Jewish traditions in the Middle Ages, and he continues to influence Christian theology.

How do you normally act? Do you act differently in different circumstances, like at home or work, or when hanging out with friends, or when you’re playing or praying?  While some people may act differently in these different situations, most are who and what they are, and act the same.  Actions like: telling the truth, being open and transparent, making eye contact, not taking yourself too seriously, having a sense of humor, smiling and laughing easily, being kind, paying attention to details, treating others with respect, trusting others, and doing the things that make others trust you - these are rooted in common sense and are based on the simple notion that people do what they want others to do to them.  These actions show that you care about others.  And that’s what integrity is really all about: it’s a particular quality that’s acquired by constantly acting in a particular way.  Act like you really care today and every day, and see how others perceive and respond to you.

Stay well!

Friday, October 5, 2012

62 Special

62 Special
 
Twenty years ago I spotted a 1956 Cadillac Fleetwood for sale – it was a 62 Special.  It was the pride of Detroit when it came out, but its best years had faded by the time I found it.

I restored it and drove it and had fun reliving the times of my youth when my Mom had one like it.  I remember my Dad thinking at the time that I was crazy to take on a restoration job for something that he considered not altogether priceless.  But I did and really loved that 62 Special.  And as I celebrate my 62nd birthday this week I have a different perspective on what’s so special about that number.

In my 62 years I’ve done some things that have been special.  Work is special: I believe I was born to be an HR guy, and the things I’ve been able to accomplish have been special.  Helping people is special: helping people find satisfaction in their work and get ahead in their careers is pretty special.  Music is special: singing harmonies with other sounds and feels special.

In my 62 years I’ve had some really special relationships. Family is special: Having lived and grown with those I love, I know how great it is to be around people who are so special.  Friends are special: I’ve learned that it’s not the quantity but the quality, and I know it takes hard work to keep those relationships special.  My wife is special: her caring, understanding, creative and loving companionship is always and ever so special. My daughter is special: while it always amazes me that we lived through it all, I know that those experiences make our relationship special.  And last but certainly not least, my granddaughter is special: she reminds me of the fact that life and legacies are indeed special.

We all get so caught up in the things that are happening that we often lose sight of what’s important, and special.  We keep searching for the next new thing and often overlook the things we have that are currently so special.  And when we forget how special the people we love, and who love us, are, then we lose that special something that makes love so precious and memorable and worth living.

So as I look back over these 62 years, I am reminded of all that I have: not the material stuff, but the special people that are special to me.  And as I spend this birthday with my granddaughter I realize how it all fits together: the yesterdays and todays always add to the richness of all the tomorrows.  And that’s my 62 Special!

My message this week is about being involved enough to get the most out of life:

“Life may bring you to your knees; pray. Then GET UP and participate in the answer. BECOME the remedy! BE the solution!”
 
-Steve Maraboli

Steve Maraboli, Ph.D., has risen to international prominence as a recognized leader in business development, personal enhancement, peak performance and an authority on the human potential and organizational behavior.

If someone were to ask your supervisor or colleagues or family or friends whether you were part of the problem or the solution, what would they say?  Think about it: when there’s a project, or a problem, or just your regular work – do you handle it maturely, and approach it with a positive outlook, and work well with others, and complete your work on time and to everyone’s satisfaction, and do you maintain your composure in the face of challenges?  These are the kinds of things that people look for when you participate with them to get things done.  Because working hard, caring about the outcomes, and being sensitive to and appreciative of the work of others improves how people work together?  Life and work can bring us to our knees, but the people we want around us when that happens are those who become part of the remedy and the solution.  Strive to be one of those people today!

PS: That’s 5-month old Olive wishing me a happy birthday.

Stay well!