Monday, December 31, 2012

The Countdown




 The Countdown

I often visit a web site that has a monthly countdown clock and that gadget constantly reminds me of the passage of time. While we normally believe there will always be more time, that clock only reminds me of the time that’s passed.

As a kid I sensed that time passed often meant lost opportunities, and as I’ve grown older this awareness tends to haunt me.  Did I do enough, was I kind enough, am I sensitive enough, did I say something I’d like to take back, or could I have done something differently: you get the idea.  And while I generally think of myself as a glass half full, it’s the silent half empty portion that comes to mind when I see time passing by.

So at this time of year, when resolutions are bandied about, I can’t help thinking about things left unsaid or undone, and I can’t avoid wishing I would or could or should have done more, said more, been more.  I write these blogs each week as an aspirational reminder to myself of all that could be, and between each writing the countdown clock keeps ticking.  So if there’s a resolution in me, it’s that I will try harder to care more, do more, and be more in 2013. Take a moment today to make a personal resolution to do what it takes to be all you can be next year.

Happy New Year!!

My message this week is about living life fully and passionately:

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” Ferdinand Foch

When’s the last time you were so excited about something that it felt like you were on fire?  Sometimes we get so busy that it feels like our hair is on fire.  And other times we’re so frazzled that it feels like our pants are on fire.  And then there are the times that we get moving so fast that it feels like the bottoms of our feet are on fire.  And for sure, when we’re in love it feels like our hearts are on fire.  Because when you are doing something that you really love, that you’re really passionate about, that you are full of enthusiasm about, that’s when it feels like life itself is on fire.  So when you’re doing something for a customer, when you’re working on a project that is important to your boss or company, and when you know that what you’re doing will make a difference - that’s when you should become a powerful force, when your whole being should be on fire with passion and excitement.  Become that kind of powerful weapon today!

Stay Well!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hallelujah




Hallelujah

We saw Leonard Cohen at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn last week. He is 78 and having a musical rebirth, complete with a world tour.  And it was a real treat.

To say the concert was extraordinary is an understatement.  First, understand that we still have his vinyl albums from the 60s, and since then we thought he just faded away.  So it was a nice surprise to see that he was performing in our Brooklyn neighborhood; we bought tickets “for old time’s sake”.  

He sang songs from throughout his career for two and a half hours.  His band of professional musicians and singers from around the world filled this big arena with lively music – we almost couldn't sit still.  His voice, which back then wasn't much to comment on, was now rich and deep and powerful.  He’s better now than he was then, which is a hope we all have.

And then he sang Hallelujah, which was as beautiful and haunting as ever:
            I did my best, it wasn't much
           I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
           I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
          And even though it all went wrong
          I'll stand before the Lord of Song
         With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

As 2012 comes to an end, this song seems to sum things up as we head into a new year.  All we can do is our best, and if that doesn't add up to the hopes and resolutions we made last year, we have to keep trying.  And if we find ourselves standing before the Lord of Song, we hope that having Hallelujah on our tongues is enough.
 
As we each stand before next year’s hopes and resolutions, be thankful for all you have, and commit to trying to be better tomorrow. My message this week is about giving your all, every day:

“You're not obligated to win. You're obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day.”  Marian Wright Edelman

What will you try to do today?  You’ll probably try hard at whatever you’re doing, and maybe you'll even hope that the effort will lead you to win or be the best. But it’s like the coach always tells a sports team: “work hard at doing each individual thing you do as well as you can, and then, if you’re lucky, you may win the game; and if you win enough games you may win the championship”.  You shouldn't set your sights on anything more than the immediate task at hand…..and then focus totally on doing it to the best of your ability.  And when you’re done with that task, move to and focus on the next.  And at the end of the day you’ll be able to look back at all you've done and feel a sense of accomplishment.  So remember: you’re not obligated to win…but you are obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day!

Happy Holidays & Stay well!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Holidays




                                            
                                              The Holidays

People throughout the world are celebrating holidays this month, including Chanukah this past week and Christmas next week.  The spending frenzy that supports the practice of gift giving for these two holidays is often excessive and might obscure the stories upon which these holidays are based.  But don’t worry – I’m not advocating Scrooge-like behavior here.

The thoughtfulness associated with gift giving is a good thing, and letting those you love know that you care about them is both important and fun.  Seeing the joy on recipients’ faces when they get presents warms everyone’s hearts and hopefully makes them curious about the specialness of the occasion.  That’s why it’s important at that moment to tell the story behind why we celebrate.

These stories are mostly from the long-ago past and they beg to be told, and it’s a disservice to young and old alike to give the gift without telling the tale.  This is how societies endure, how histories persist, and how new generations learn from the old.  Storytelling is as old as mankind and serves as the basis for all that we know and cherish.  And even with the advent of the Internet and the ability to search for the meaning of anything, without the human voice behind the facts there is no humanity in the learning.

So give all the gifts you want, but remember the best gift of all is the understanding of what things are, and how they got to be what they are.  While it certainly is the thought that counts, it’s truly the meaning that endures.  Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!

My message this week is about being responsible for what goes on around us:

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”  Winston Churchill

What price would you be willing to pay for success or greatness, or even just making things right?  You’d probably be willing to put in lots of hard work, and you’d most likely care a lot, and you might even give up your free time.  You also might consider putting in some money. But after all of that, it’s the commitment and responsibility that you put into the work that you do or the things that you give that will ratchet them up to the level of being special or even achieving greatness.  Lots of people give everything they have to give and still don’t make it to that higher level – that’s because they did not put in all of their heart and soul and inspiration and passion – basically they didn’t accept full ownership and responsibility for their actions.  So if you want greatness, the price is full responsibility.  Nothing more; nothing less.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874 – 1965), was a British politician, best known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War.  His funeral was the largest state funeral in world history, with representatives from 112 nations.

Stay well!      
                                                                                        
PS: many of you asked about last week’s blog and whether I was leaving NYC – the answer is “no, we are keeping our Brooklyn apartment while I continue to work and consult there”.  The only difference is that now our home base will be in Las Vegas instead of Laguna Beach.  Thanks for asking.  

       


Monday, December 10, 2012

A Change of View




                         A Change of View

For the past 6 years we’ve lived in Laguna Beach, an idyllic arts’ community in Southern California.  It was like a dream come true: living in the canyon, smelling the sea in the air, walking the beaches and enjoying the best climate anywhere. Eclectic friends, the sound of the surf, and sunsets over the ocean all made living there very special.

But dreams, and views, change.  The desire to be closer to family slowly eroded the dream and so we sold our house in the treetops of Bluebird Canyon this past week and are moving back to Las Vegas.  The perfect weather, the sounds and sights and smells of the ocean, the friends we made there are now joining the memories of other past homes and communities.  We thought we were going to stay there forever; but forever is a very long time. 

Six years wasn’t forever, but it was more than enough time to again accumulate stuff that seemed superfluous when packing to move.  Boxes that were filled one or more moves previously – do we really need that stuff?  Drawers filled with this and that trinket that we just had to save – for what?  Ok – the 300 record albums – can’t get rid of those……but not much stuff has memories like those old friends. And into the truck it all went for storage until we find our next home.

And as we head across the desert back to Las Vegas we can’t help but reflect on the fact that it’s not the stuff we collect but rather the families we have that are our most important and cherished possessions.  We’ve lived in many places, but the place that we’re now drawn to the most is where our family is; and it’s the place we want to be.  It doesn’t come with an ocean or beach, but a day with family beats those every day.  Watching a sunset over the ocean is cool, but watching our granddaughter grow is immeasurably cooler. Change for this is good; changing our view about what’s really important: priceless.

My message this week is about getting the most out of life:

“It’s not what happens to you that determines how far you will go in life; it is how you handle what happens to you.” Zig Ziglar

Attitude has a lot to do with loyalty: as in the attitudes of those your work with, and your attitude about where you work and with whom. If you don’t like the people you work with, and how they treat you, then it’s hard to be loyal to them and your company.  I’m not saying you have to love everyone, but there has to be mutual trust and respect, and good and open communications, and everyone should treat others the way they want to be treated. Those are the kinds of things that foster good attitudes, and help build and maintain loyalty. It won’t always be perfect, but if everyone is committed to these then your attitude and theirs will help build these relationships.  And when things happen that might negatively affect those relationships, it’s not what happened as much as how you and your colleagues handle what happens.  Be mindful of others’ needs and feelings, and they will most likely give you the same courtesy.   And that will help build loyalty, today and every day.

Stay well!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What's In a Name


                     
                                               
                       What’s In A Name

Last week was all about thanksgiving, and hopefully much of that remains this week and beyond.  Like many of you I spent the holiday with family and found that more nourishing than the food on the table.  But there was more.

My granddaughter is now at an age where she can receive a formal Hebrew name.  Because there’s no Hebrew equivalent for Olive, her parents had a choice, and with the Rabbi decided on a derivative of Shalom, the Hebrew word for Peace.

Normally, parents take their child to a synagogue to be named on a day when the Torah is read, but my daughter and her husband decided to invite the Rabbi to come perform the ceremony at their house before Thanksgiving dinner: with all the family around and with thankfulness already in the air.

The ritual, up close and personal as it was, was shared by all. Everyone there got to participate in the ceremony in front of the others, and this sense of sharing made it so much more meaningful. We often don’t really have a sense of where a name comes from, or what it means, or how it might actually signify something about the person who will have it forever.  

Because the relatives there were part of the ceremony, each will now have a stronger bond to Olive, or Shlomayte (her Hebrew name). The blessings were more meaningful, the giving of the name was special, and the feeling of thanksgiving for all that we have and share more intense.

Sometimes we assign nicknames to others because we have no connection to the name they’ve been given. But when you know where the name really comes from there’s no need to add anything further.  That’s when a name is more than just a name.  And for that I am very thankful.

My message this week is about doing good things for others:

“Power is the ability to do good things for others.” Brooke Astor

Roberta Brooke Astor (1902 – 2007) was an American philanthropist, socialite and writer who was the chairwoman of the Vincent Astor Foundation. She is the author of two novels and two volumes of personal memoirs.

Do you have this kind of power? You probably can, and often do, perform good things for others…but is it a regular thing? People with special skills share those with others to help when needed, those with special knowledge apply that when appropriate, a gift of humor can often ease tensions, and of course money is always helpful. But there are other intangible things that do good things for others: a willing attitude, a strong back, a kind nature, and a keen eye – these can all be helpful in a moment of need.  And in the service business, the greatest powers include a sense of responsibility, an awareness of a need before it’s spoken, and a genuine interest to be helpful even when interrupted.  All of these powers have the potential to do good things for others, and each speaks volumes about you, your commitment, and your integrity.  Use these kinds of powers with others today and see what good they can do!

Stay well!