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By Ginny Dye & Sandi Valentine
For Together We Can Change the World, Inc. Together We Can Change the World Publishing Copyright © 2007 All Rights Reserved
From the Authors
Dear Friend, In our many years of working with people we have watched as person after person falters when they reach the "Real World". They start out with such great dreams. They are full of energy and hope - determined to make their mark on the world. Then they face the reality of unkind people; cruel words; failed attempts; unforeseen obstacles; and a myriad of other "Real Life" situations. Their dreams crumble before the onslaught. It doesn't have to be that way! If they are prepared; equipped; and strengthened by the SECRETS OF SUCCESS learned by people who have come before, they can conquer everything that comes their way - making their dreams come true! We have learned that a single moment of Epiphany will not create lasting change. It is repeated impacts of stories, ideas & thoughts that change patterns and habits in order to achieve your goal. Knowing that, we began to collect stories of successful people. We read about their lives. We studied how they achieved success. We saw their struggles and fears. We saw how they overcame them to accomplish great things. Meeting these people began to create change in our own lives as we applied what we learned. The change wasn't always easy but it was so worth the journey. We want to give you the same opportunity by sharing some of the people we have gotten to know with you through Daily Power Boosters! You’ll get to know: A 19 year old girl who moved beyond self-doubt and abuse to found the largest cookie company in the world! A 42 year old man who barely survived as a child, yet grew up to become the owner of one of the largest hotel chains in the world! A young girl who had her arm bitten off by a shark, yet came back to become a national surfing champion! A penniless Russian immigrant who founded a multi-million dollar brassiere company! A single mother of 7 who discovered the way to make a difference in millions of lives! You'll meet people who: * Have overcome debilitating fears. * Come back from devastating physical challenges. * Started their journey to success with NOTHING. * Have discovered their real purpose for living. * Came back from despair to find great JOY. * Made the choice to overcome huge obstacles
Within the life lessons of ordinary people who have lived extraordinary lives you'll learn to: * Overcome whatever obstacles are before you! * Harness the power of persistence! * Master the secrets of how to gain great wealth! * Make a difference with your life! * Master how to attain the goals you have for your life! * Build deep, meaningful relationships! * Live a life of incredible joy! And so much more....
You may feel you are all alone in your quest for Success & Joyful Living. You're NOT!
Millions have gone before you. There are so many who discovered what they were looking for. People who have succeeded are not stingy with their secrets. They are eager to share them with others who are looking for their own success. And, we are eager to share them with you! We hope you enjoy our Ebook as much as we enjoyed creating it for you! Joyfully,
No Magic Formula
Imagine a world with no ATM Machines; no passbook savings; no car or home-improvement loans; or no installment-plan credit. Hard to do, isn't it? Well, you owe a huge thanks to one man who refused to be told it couldn't be done. You want to know how to create success in your life. Here's another one of those "secrets". If you have a strong vision, and a will to overcome whatever obstacles get in your way, you can accomplish anything. Just ask Amadeo Peter Giannini (A.P.). A.P. certainly had his share of obstacles. When he was only 7, his father died in a fight over one dollar. Things were hard for him and his mother. She remarried a man who went into the produce business. A.P., at age 14, quit school to work with him. By 19 he was a partner in the thriving enterprise, built largely on his reputation for integrity and honesty. At 31 years of age he had all the money he needed or wanted, and announced his retirement. One year later his real career began. . . At 32, A.P. was asked to join the board of the Columbus Savings & Loan society, a modest bank in the Italian section of town. It wasn't long before A.P found himself at odds with the other directors. A.P. wanted the bank to loan money to hard-working immigrants, but at that time banks were in business only for business men and the wealthy. His ideas of loaning money to the working class were scoffed at. No problem. A.P. had a vision and he was determined to make it reality. He raised $150,000 from family and friends; bought a converted saloon right across the street from the Columbus S&L; kept the bartender on as an assistant teller; and opened the Bank of Italy. In those days it wasn't considered proper to solicit banking business. He ignored the "proper way" and began ringing doorbells and talking to everyone he could about what a bank did. He advertised. He kept the bank open longer hours, and on weekends, to fit into working people's schedules. Business boomed.
A.P. believed in making other people's dreams come true. He helped the California Wine Industry get started. He bankrolled Hollywood when they were trying to make movies popular. When Walt Disney ran $2 million dollars over budget on Snow White, he stepped in with a loan. A.P. believed integrity and "giving back" were the formulas for success. What began in 1904 as the Bank of Italy transformed into the Bank of America - now the world's largest bank. What about A.P.? Did he die a billionaire? When he passed away at age 79, his estate was worth less than $500,000. It was purely by choice. He disdained great wealth, believing it would make him lose touch with the people he wanted to serve. He worked for no pay for years. A surprise $1.5 million bonus one year was promptly given to the University of California. It was far more important for him to give and make a difference. All of us have that ability and opportunity. As you strive for success, remember you can use it to make a difference in the world. A.P. strove to make a difference every day of his life. Follow your own formula for success, and then look for ways to give back to the world that has given you so much. There are always ways. They are out there waiting for you to find them! And, just like A.P. you can pretty much count on the fact you will face numerous problems and obstacles. Your success will come as you overcome each one - one at a time. There is no magic formula unless you are wise enough to recognize vision, passion, determination and hard work as a magic formula! Make it a successful day!
"Develop an attitude of gratitude and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation." ~Brian Tracy
O'Neill, Nebraska is a small town on the wind-swept plains. Stifling heat in the summer, brutal cold in the winter. Cattle and agriculture are the mainstays of their economy. The residents are good, honest and hard-working. One, however, stands out… Beth Tielke has become a role-model and mentor to me, refining my meaning of the word success. This 74 year-old mother of 7, and grandmother of 34 (last count), has accomplished so much in her life. Beth worked hard for many years on her family's dairy farm, battling cold and heat alongside her husband, Bill. She raised her 7 children, and then aware there was not enough money to send her children to college she plunged into the business world – owning a store, several restaurants, and a sandwich business – learning as she went. Most of the businesses are still running, only now her children operate them. At 74, Beth has earned the right to sit back and enjoy life. Has she? Well, she enjoys life immensely, but she certainly hasn't sat back. This dynamo of a woman has traded in her brick-and-mortar businesses for 3 different home-based businesses. Her phone rings continuously and her home is full of friends, clients and family – that is when she is not roaming all over Nebraska spreading love to as many people as she can! All of these things are wonderful but they are not what make Beth Tielke such an amazing person to me. To understand that, you have to know about Share Our Dream. Beth is only happy when she is giving –when she is making a difference in someone's life. She understands that in order for a gift to make a difference it doesn't have to be large – it just has to be given from the heart, to the right person, in the right way. Share Our Dream is about spreading a little bit of sunshine to as many people as she can. It's about allowing other people to give small gifts – all they are able – so they can know the joy of giving. It's about an elderly woman who just lost her husband crying with joy when she received a Share Our Dream card with a certificate for a piece of pie from a local restaurant.
It's about a little boy who realized someone cared when he got a certificate for a free ice cream cone from the local ice cream parlor. It's about local businesses giving coupons for a cookie a week for Beth to give away to someone who needs a little drop of sunshine. It's about a local florist donating one arrangement a month to bring joy to someone's life. It's about a local resident with very little money who has committed to providing a coupon for one ice cream cone a week – making a difference with what little she has. It's about helping a 14 year-old pianist pay to have his first CD cut, then using a portion of the proceeds to give more gifts. It's about the Share Our Dream website where local people have the joy of reading the stories of their lives, and of their friends and neighbors. The stories go on and on…. Since Beth started Share Our Dream (paying for most of the costs from her own pocket) over 1600 people have benefited in some way. It's about neighbors and friends feeling special and helping others feel special. It's about teaching all of us how to live – how to be truly successful. It's about realizing success is not just about what we have, it's more about what we can give. It's about realizing that while we may not be able to "Outgive the Universe," it certainly is fun to try. One of my goals in life is to be like Beth Tielke when I am her age – trying as hard as I can to emulate her right now. I mentioned at the beginning that Beth has 7 children. Well, actually she has 8, because she has "adopted" me as her daughter since I met her 2 years ago. I am very proud to call this amazing woman my "Mom"! All of us have the ability to make a difference – no matter how much money we do, or do NOT, have. Giving comes from the heart. It takes creativity and sensitivity to those around you.
If you want to know more about Share Our Dream, or you would like to help Beth make a difference, please visit http://www.shareourdream.com. How can you give to someone today?
Any change, any loss, does not make us victims. Others can shake you, surprise you, disappoint you, but they can't prevent you from acting, from taking the situation you're presented with and moving on. No matter where you are in life, no matter what your situation, you can always do something. You always have a choice and the choice can be power. ~Blaine Lee, The Power Principle
Think of Marion
Next time you think about quitting or giving up remember Marion. (And gentlemen keep reading this story, don't quit just because it's about a woman -- it's really about love and determination!) Marion Luna Brem was 30 years old when she was handed a death sentence. Marion had cancer of the breast and cervix. In the short span of eleven weeks, she had two surgeries: a mastectomy and hysterectomy. Next she suffered through the horrible effects of chemotherapy. In addition to her pain, the cancer had robbed her of her hair, her savings and her husband. He left because he couldn't deal with the pressure any more. He also left Marion with two small boys and no way to support them. One hot morning Marion found herself on the floor of her bathroom trying not to throw up again. She was not only facing overwhelming pain and paralyzing fear, she was facing a major decision. Would she give up or would she fight back? Thoughts of her children consumed her. She needed to get a job, but she had little work experience and next to no formal education. Add to that equation the fact she was a woman - and a Latina, and the prospects looked as dismal as the bathroom floor. Marion's best friend suggested a job in sales. At first Marion pushed the idea aside. And then she decided to act on it. She chose the male dominated car sales industry. In her healthier days she'd been a switchboard operator at a car dealership and knew there was good money in car sales. She'd also witnessed how the salesmen talked exclusively to the men and virtually ignored the women. Her instincts told her women were a more important part of the equation than they were given credit for. Statistics now prove she was right. When couples buy a car, the woman influences the decision 80% of the time. It wasn't an easy road. Marion was flatly refused applications (because she was a woman) in 16 car dealerships. Finally, at the 17th car dealership she told the manager what she'd observed about women car buyers. He hired her on the spot. Her all-male colleagues welcomed the rookie. They didn't see her as competition but rather as a curiosity. It wasn't until she started out performing them that they became cool toward her. Even so, Marion
received the annual "Salesman of the Year" award -- complete with a man's Rolex watch. She accepted the recognition and enjoyed her achievement. Marion was the top producer for the next two years. Then she approached her boss for a management position. He refused her because he didn't want to remove her from sales -- she was making too much money for the company. Difficult as it was, Marion left the security of that position and hit the pavement again. She was finally hired as an entry-level manager at a new dealership. Two and half years later she was ready to start her own dealership. She went to the drugstore and bought 50 school folders and created portfolios. She called them her "brag folder" and they contained her certificates, press clippings and a biography. She sent the package to 50 CPAs all over Texas. Two weeks later she received a call from one of her contacts. He became her silent partner, put up the working capital and millions in loans and Marion opened a Chrysler dealership. In just 5 years after selling her first car, Marion Luna Brem opened "Love Chrysler" complete with a heart logo on every car. Marion's motto: "It's not just the hearts on our cars, it's the hearts inside our people. We're spreading Love all over Texas!" Today Marion is cancer-free, the owner of two car dealerships, and recently celebrated the 11th anniversary of Love Chrysler. Her company is 89th on the Hispanic Business 500 with revenues of more than $45 million. Success is a frame of mind that takes action. Believe in yourself. Keep moving forward. And remember Marion!
I had been invited to attend a friend's family reunion. Coming from a very small family (I have one aunt & uncle and two cousins) I decided it would be a kick to go to my first-ever family reunion. I was not quite prepared for the reality. It was a little overwhelming to be surrounded by hundreds of people – all related! My friend had 20 sets of aunts and uncles and untold numbers of cousins. Add in seconds and thirds; great aunts and uncles; etc. and you can imagine the swarm of people on that hot July day. There seemed to be more people than the infamous North Carolina mosquitoes buzzing around! I met as many strange faces as I could handle, then escaped to the sanctuary of his grandma's shady porch. That's where I found his grandma who had also retreated there to escape the heat. She was so beautiful with her lined, weathered, ebony face surrounded by soft silver curls. Her dress, solid white with lace, was fresh and crisp even in the withering heat. It was her face that drew me, however. She looked so happy and peaceful, her eyes shining with a bright light that embraced me immediately. She patted the step next to her rocking chair with her foot. "Have a seat and rest a spell." I sank down gratefully. "Kinda a lot of them, aren't there?" she asked, reading my mind immediately. "More family then I've ever seen in my life," I agreed, laughing with her when her silvery laugh tinkled out. I relaxed against the porch column as we shared stories of our families. She had many more stories than I did, of course. There was a brief silence, and then Grandma fixed me with her bright eyes. "Can I give you some advice?" I nodded eagerly. I was already so impressed with her loving, lively spirit that I wanted to hear anything she had to say. Grandma settled back in her rocking chair, her face getting a faraway look. "I want you to imagine you're my age, 87 years old. You're
sitting in this rocking chair and you're looking back over your life – thinking of all the things you wish you'd done." She paused and leaned forward to make sure I was listening. "Now go do them." Grandma reached down to grab my hand. "You don't want to live a life that ends in a lot of regrets. You got dreams, girl. I can see them in your eyes. Now go do them." I listened – with both my heart and mind. And I want you to know I've been doing them ever since. I am so thankful I got that advice when I was so young. It's given me the courage to do things against the norm, bucking the tide any time I shy away from things that I know I'll regret if I don't do them. Her advice has given me the courage to be me. One of the things I did was make a list of all the things I wanted to do in my life. It's changed some as I've gotten older, but I love marking things off as I accomplish them. Let me share just a small portion of my list with you… 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Travel in every state in America (I've done 49 so far) Work on a ranch in Texas – done Write a book for Teenagers – I've published 6 Write historical novels – I've published 4 Work with High School kids – 18 years worth Speak 3 foreign languages – I'm working on Spanish but still have 2 to go 7. Play the guitar – I'm not great, but I play. I love it! 8. Play the piano – not yet, but I will 9. Travel on every continent – not yet, but I'm working on it 10. Paraglide – I have a school scheduled for summer, 2005
My list is MUCH larger, but it gives you an idea. Make your own list. Put it up where you can see it, and then start working toward marking off each accomplishment. Life can be thought about. Or it can be LIVED!! I hope you'll decide to live every day, every moment with gusto – coming to the end with absolutely no regrets! No matter how you define success – you will have achieved it!! Make it a great day!
Lessons From Our Kids
Tony Dungy is the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and gave a speech at the 2006 Athletes in Action NFL Super Bowl breakfast entitled Valuable Lessons From My Sons. In that speech Coach Dungy shared about his three sons and what they've taught him over the years. But it is the words he spoke of his youngest son that I want to share with you today. Jordan was born with a very rare neurological condition called congenital insensitivity to pain. There are only two or three cases in the whole United States. Jordan experiences no pain. The conductors that allow the nerve signals to go from his body to his brain are missing. At first that might seem like a good thing. But it is not. Coach Dungy shares how Jordan will reach into the oven while the cookies are baking and just take the rack out of the oven with his bare hands. He has no idea the damage he is doing to his hands. Jordan also has no fear because he experiences no pain. Instead of sliding down the slide, he's just as apt to jump off from the top. His parents have to keep a constant watch over him for his own protection. Coach Dungy shares that pain actually helps the body heal. When the brain senses pain, it sends the right healing agents to that spot. Without that sensation, Jordan's body doesn't send those healing agents and it can take several months for a simple cut to heal. That got me thinking about the importance of pain in our lives. Not only does pain teach us what is safe and what is not, it also promotes healing in our bodies. If this is the case (and we know it is) we need to look at pain differently. Pain is no longer an enemy, but actually a friend. When we feel pain in our relationships, it should cause us to reflect on what caused the pain and then seek forgiveness and restoration. When we experience the pain of failure, we need to dig in and allow it to push us to try yet another way. When we are confronted with the pain of worry or fear, it's time to take a deep look at the reason for those emotions, and then take corrective action. Choose to make pain your friend - learn from it and then push through it to victory!
Some people know early on what their destiny is, and they begin to prepare for it. Ichiro Suziki is one of those people. In August of 2004, the Seattle Mariner's baseball player broke an 84 year old record for most hits in a season. He was only 20 years old when he won his first batting title. What has made Ichiro great? The answer is so simple. Knowing what he wanted, and knowing what it would take to get there. Ichiro, born in Japan, picked up his first ball and bat when he was 3 years old. When he was eight, he insisted he wanted to play baseball and joined a baseball club. His Dad supported him by becoming the manager. It wasn't good enough for Ichiro because the team only played and practiced on Sundays. He wanted to play everyday. Everyday of the week you would find Ichiro and his father outside – playing baseball. They practiced together every single day for 4 years, until Ichiro was old enough to join a team that would give him daily playing time. By the time he was in high school he participated twice in "Koshien" - the National High School Baseball Tournament in Japan. He went professional as soon as he graduated from High School – racking up honor after honor in his Japan homeland. He continued to practice just as hard, determined to be the best by doing his best – every day. The Japanese fans responded by making him an idol. Then a new opportunity presented itself. The Seattle Mariners wanted him. His determination to be the best paid off when the Mariners paid $13 Million dollars to bring him to the United States. In his first year he was named "Rookie of the Year" and "Most Valuable Player of the Year" for the League. He became an instant sensation in America. All the while he kept working hard, focused on being the best he could be, taking nothing for granted. He was where he was because he worked hard. He would continue to work hard. Can you say "Secret"?
In 2004 it all came together under the bright lights of the Seattle Mariners home field when he broke the record George Sisler had held on to for 84 years. He made 262 hits in just one season. Amazing! The fans went wild – both here and in Japan. Fireworks exploded. His teammates mobbed him on the field. 262 hits in one season. It all began when he was just a little boy, determined to be the best by doing his best. Every one of us has that choice to make. You might not have the ability, or the desire, to be a baseball player. But you have a dream. You have something you want to do with your life. You get to choose. Choose to be the best by doing your best. It's a choice you will have to make every day to achieve success. Here's to making great choices!
"If you want your life to be a magnificent story, then begin by realizing that you are the author and everyday you have the opportunity to write a new page." ~Mark Houlahan
The Seriousness of Laughter
Have you ever heard of Norman Cousins? He was diagnosed with an illness and told that he had little chance of surviving it. Put in a hospital room to die, Cousins rejected that diagnosis and took matters into his own hands. He started megadosing on Vitamin C and put himself on a daily regimen of good old fashioned belly laughing. He was convinced that positive attitudes including MUCH laughter help the body heal. In his book, Anatomy of an Illness he writes: "I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep. When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval." Norman Cousins loved watching the Marx Brothers and his laughter could be heard up and down the hospital corridors. Occasionally other patients would complain and the nursing staff would have to ask Cousins to quiet down. Norman Cousins lived 16 years longer than his doctors predicted. Readers Digest just ran an issue dedicated to humor and laughter. They made some very important summaries:
● laughter reduces stress, improves memory and helps keep our
● lightheartedness can lead to a more positive approach in
● laughing for 10-15 minutes increases your heart rate by 10% to
20%, burning an extra 10-40 calories a day, which over one year could add up to a four-pound weight loss ● a UCLA study found that children tolerated pain better than usual when watching a funny program or video ● humor increases the production and effectiveness of natural killer cells that stomp out germs. These cells are elevated for at least 12 hours after just an hour of watching a funny movie or show As an ancient proverb says: A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. So take laughing seriously! It can improve your health and help you live longer and better.
Consider this. . .
How many times have you been discouraged because someone else didn't see the brilliance of what you created, thought of, or wanted to do? How many times have you walked away from something because you decided it wasn't a good idea, too? Consider these…
● The movie Star Wars was rejected by every movie studio in ●
● ● ● ● ● ● ●
Hollywood before 20th Century Fox finally produced it. It went on to be one of the largest-grossing movies in film history. As a child, Sylvester Stallone was frequently beaten by his father and told he had no brains. He grew up an unhappy loner. He floated in and out of schools. An advisor at Drexel University told him that based on his aptitude tests he should pursue a career as an elevator repair person. It's not a bad profession but it's certainly not where "Rocky" ended up! Einstein was criticized for not wearing socks or cutting his hair. He didn't speak until he was four, and didn't read until he was seven. One observer noted, "He could be mentally retarded". An expert said of Vince Lombardi: "He possesses minimal football knowledge. Lacks motivation. Beethoven handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his technique. His teacher proclaimed him hopeless as a composer. Walt Disney was fired from his job as a newspaper editor for lack of ideas. He also went bankrupt several times before he created Disneyland. Henry Ford failed and went broke 5 times before he finally succeeded. Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, was encouraged to find work as a servant or seamstress. She would certainly never be a writer. In 1944, the director of the Blue Book Modeling Agency, told modeling hopeful Norma Jean Baker (Marilyn Monroe), "You'd better learn secretarial work, or else get married."
So… what are your ideas? Your thoughts? Your dreams? Who cares if anyone supports what you want to do? The important thing is for YOU to believe. For YOU to ignore the people who say you can't do it – and DO IT ANYWAY! It takes
courage. It takes persistence. It takes believing in the "voice inside" when no one else does. Ideas, dreams and visions are planted within you because you have the ability to make them happen. You'll learn, grow, scramble, fail, and get back up again! The important thing is to simply never give up. The people I told you about never did – and they made great things happen! Here's to your success!
"Don't be discouraged by a failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid. ~John Keats
Little James Earl was scared. His early years in Mississippi meant no father because he had left his family to become a prize fighter, and then an actor. It also meant no mother because she had left her son to earn money as a tailor. The Great Depression had stolen his family and now he was about to lose the only life he had known. His grandparents adopted him and moved north to Michigan. Though his life in Mississippi had been one of abandonment it was all 5 year old James Earl had ever known. The move so traumatized him he developed a stutter. His first day of school was disaster. His stuttering made his classmates laugh at him. It was the final straw for a frightened little boy. He closed his mouth and simply quit talking. For eight years… James Earl was completely mute – with the exception of conversations he would have with himself when he was all alone. He found solace in the written word – creating poetry to release the raging in his soul. As is often the case, one person who saw beyond his limitations, released James Earl from his self-imposed prison. That one person was an English teacher who saw talent in the silent 13 year old. She pushed him beyond his fear by forcing him into public speaking – insisting he recite a poem in front of the class every day. Can't you imagine his terror when he first stood in front of his class? What made him do it? Was it only the teacher's insistence? No. It was a deep desire to break free from his prison and speak all the things that had sat silently in his heart during all those years of silence. He chose to feel the fear – and then do it anyway! He stuttered. He stammered. He endured the sympathetic and scornful looks of fellow students. He endured the laughing. But he did it. He faced the fear and made himself speak. Day after day. He hung on to the encouragement of the teacher who believed in him. And it worked. His stuttering became less. He learned to control his voice. His victories made him look for more challenges. James Earl began to take acting lessons. His early lessons in perseverance gave him the courage to push beyond the prejudices against black actors. He chose
to take as many different types of roles as he could – stretching his limitations and refusing to be pigeon-holed with any stereotypes. James Earl Jones is now known for his deep authoritative voice. Perhaps you know him as the voice for Star Wars' Darth Vader. Or as Mufasa in the Lion King. You see him almost daily on commercials. He has starred on Broadway and been in many movies. He has been laden with Tony, Emmy and Obie Awards. People look at him today and see a confident actor with a deep authoritative voice. The next time you see him I want you to look deeper… James Earl Jones' great secret of success is that he chose to push beyond his fears. He chose to change the reality of a young boy who had lived in silence for 8 years. He chose to face ridicule and scorn in order to be free. I can only imagine how many years passed before he could open his mouth without being afraid of what would come out. He chose to FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY! So many of us let our fears stop us. We're afraid of how we will appear. We're afraid of what people will think. We're afraid we'll fail. And so… we do nothing. We exchange fear for regrets. Fear will pass. Fear can be conquered. Fear will fade away in the face of determined action. Regrets, you live with for the rest of your life. What are you afraid of? Choose to face your fear. What action can you take today to conquer your fear? Tomorrow? Your life is whatever you decide to make it. You can choose to never live with regrets!
Sometimes we think we can't make a difference in our world. But that is blatantly untrue. Many years ago there was fifth grade school teacher who had one of those 'unlovable' students. He didn't get along with the other students. His clothes were always messy and he was constantly in need of a bath. He was an unpleasant boy and a constant irritant. It got to the point where she actually enjoyed marking huge X's across his papers and finished them off with big, red F's at the top. One of the school's requirements for teachers was that they review each child's past records. But she had put off reading his until last; the first semester was nearly done and she knew she had to fulfill this duty. As she read through the years of teachers' notes she found that he had been a well-liked and excellent student but had suffered through his mother's terminal illness and death. His resultant behavior was not understood by the other students and he was treated poorly. His grades began to suffer and he became withdrawn and apathetic toward school and life. His fifth grade teacher was now embarrassed and disturbed by her own behavior. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas gifts. Most were nicely wrapped in colorful paper and pretty bows. But one was wrapped clumsily in a brown paper bag. The teacher recognized it immediately and made a point of opening it in the middle of all the others. Within it she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a partial bottle of perfume. She didn't hesitate to dab the perfume on her wrists and put on the bracelet. After class that day, the young boy lingered after class and told her she smelled just like his mother. On that day she quit teaching math, reading and writing and started teaching children. She paid particular attention to her "new-found" student and he began to thrive under her tutelage. The more she encouraged him the faster he responded and by the end of the year he was her best and brightest student.
As the years went by, she would receive notes and letters from him telling her how she had changed his life and that she was the best teacher he'd ever had. Eventually he graduated college, and became a medical doctor. Then one spring day she received a letter stating he was getting married. His father had since died and he wanted to know if she would agree to sit in the place usually reserved for the groom's mother. Of course she did. And she wore a rhinestone bracelet with some stones missing and the perfume he'd given her so many years ago. After the wedding service, the newly married doctor whispered in her ear, "Thank you for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference." With tears in her eyes she whispered back, "You have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you." We make choices every day of how we will treat others. Here at Together We Can Change the World -- we believe it takes each of us choosing to treat one another with respect to make a difference in our world. Will you join us in making the choices that build bridges instead of walls? Will you join us in reaching out a helping hand instead of turning away in judgmental indifference? You may not be able to change the world -- but the smallest word or gesture of kindness can change the world for someone else!
Mrs. Field's Cookies
Ever had a Mrs. Field's Chocolate Chip cookie? Ymmmm…! When you think of Mrs. Fields, do you see a grandmotherly type woman churning out trays of cookies in her hot kitchen? Think again. Let me tell you the story of Debbi Fields… Debbi was only 19 years old when she reached a cross-roads in her life. She was married to a well-known Economist and Futurist, and had quit work to play the role of a conventional wife. She hadn't expected her decision to deal such a hard blow to her self-esteem. No one seemed to think she had anything to offer – including herself. One night, at a party, things reached a head. People were falling all over themselves to talk to her husband – they were treating her like she was an absolute zero, walking away from her in most conversations. Until the party host approached her… She tried to talk to him, answering his barrage of questions. She tried to appear sophisticated, urbane and clever – failing miserably at her attempt to be something she wasn't. Her host finally asked, "What do you intend to do with your life? Debbi was a nervous wreck at this point. She blurted out, "Well, I'm mostly trying to get orientated." Her host looked at her with disgust. "The word is oriented," he snapped. "There is no such word as orientated. Why don't you learn to use the English language?" He spat out his words and walked away. Well, you can imagine… Debbi was crushed. She cried all the way home. But somewhere, in the middle of all the tears, she made a decision. She would never, never, NEVER let something like that happen again. She was done living in someone else's shadow. She would find something of her own. As she pondered what she was going to do she thought back to the old boat motor that had accumulated dust in her family's basement when she was growing up – her parents and 5 girls in a 2-bedroom, 1 bathroom home. Her father was going to buy a boat for that motor someday. He never did, and to Debbi that motor became a symbol of putting off dreams until it's too late to achieve them.
Debbi had watched her father die with his dreams unfulfilled. She didn't want the same thing to happen to her. She would do something. But what?! The only thing Debbi was really good at was making cookies. She had been baking and experimenting with recipes since was 13. She'd add more butter; use less flour; or try different kinds of chocolate. She'd finally hit on a recipe she believed was ideal. Her cookies were soft, buttery and crammed with chocolate chips. She realized she had to use her gifts so… Debbi decided to open a cookie store. Every single person in her life told her it wouldn't work. No one believed in her. It didn't matter. On August 18, 1977, when Debbi was 20, she opened her first store. No one came. By noon she was desperate. She stared at the empty store and decided if she was going to go out of business, she would at least do it in style. Debbi loaded up a tray of cookies and went out in to her shopping arcade, trying to give away cookies. No one would take them. She figured she had nothing to lose at this point, so she headed out to the street. She begged, pleaded and wheedled until people finally took her samples. She smiled as their faces lit up. She went back to the store and sold cookies to the people who had followed her wanting more. By the end of the day she had sold $50 worth. The next day she sold $75 worth. The rest is Cookie History… Debbi Fields is now the owner of over 600 stores – with sales in the multi-millions. She is also the mother of 5. She did indeed find something of her own! You will face obstacles. You will face people who don't believe in your dreams. So what? It's YOUR life. It will become what YOU decide to make it. Debbi Fields shared this in a speech she gave: "Whatever you do in your life, you have to be absolutely passionate about it."
Debbi was passionate about cookies. Passionate about excellence. Passionate about living with no regrets. Take some time to think about what you are passionate about. Make a list. It might be long. It might be short. What are you MOST passionate about? What will create the greatest joy and success in your life if you decide to do it? What will you most regret if you don't do it? Right now – TODAY – you have gifts that can make a difference in how you live your life. How will you use them? What will you do? It's up to you. Choose to have a great day!
"Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture. . . Do not build up obstacles in your imagination. ~Norman Vincent Peale
How's Your Dream?
How's your dream going? Guess that's a pretty bold way of starting an article, isn't it? But everyone has a dream and every now and then we need to take some time to take a look at it (and ourselves) to see how we're progressing in reaching it! Raising funds for a venture is a common challenge. Stephen Hilbert, president and CEO of Conesco, Inc., faced it. When asked, he says that raising money for Conesco was the hardest job of his life because he couldn't find a bank or investor to help in the start-up of his insurance company. But instead of giving up, Hilbert and his partner hit the streets. He'd had experience in selling encyclopedias door-to-door so the two of them decided to do the same thing, and sold shares in their start-up company. And this was in 1980 when people could put money in market accounts and earn 17% interest! Between 1979 and 1982 (3 years!) they knocked on thousands of doors and ultimately raised close to $4 million. Conesco, Inc. is now a billion dollar insurance company and Stephen Hilbert (at the age of 51) made Forbes' 1997 list of the 400 Richest People in the World. So, I'll ask again -- how's your dream going? Are you doing what needs to be done to take it to the next level? Cynthia Kersey of Unstoppable Enterprises, Inc. suggests writing down 10 different ways you can approach your current obstacle in order to reach a solution. You may need some quiet time alone to come up with the ten ideas or you might be like me and need to hash it out with a friend. Once you've completed the exercise you should find that you've not only renewed your commitment to your dream, you've also come up with a viable solution! Happy dream building. . .
Can't Outgive the Universe
One of my core beliefs about life is that "You Can't Outgive the Universe"… Other people say it different ways: What goes around, comes around. You reap what you sow. What you send out will come back to you. However you want to say it, I believe it is one of the secrets to a happy, fulfilled life. It is also – I believe – the only way to accomplish all your goals and dreams. Giving sets a whole set of universal principles in place. It releases an energy that sends good things back to the giver. Of course, you can't give just so you receive something in return. The giving has to be done with a "giving heart" – a desire to make a difference in the world. Just ask Mike Caswell. He learned the joy of giving early in his life… Mike was a soccer player in Pasadena, California. The teams he played on always received brand new gear every season – uniforms, cleats, everything. The old stuff? It got chucked to the back of closets to lay idle and collect dust. One day, years into his soccer life, Mike started thinking about all the soccer gear piled high in the back of his closet. Wasn't there something good that could be done with it? He thought about it. He talked to his parents and friends. And he came up with a plan. The first thing Mike did was create a flyer to send to every team and every player in his area – asking the players to donate their old gear. The response was tremendous. Great piles of used gear in great condition came pouring into his house. While the gear was pouring in, Mike was busy working with church groups and the American Youth Soccer Association to make connections with missionaries in Third World Countries.
The gear continued to pour in. Individuals, and entire teams, brought their old gear, excited to be making a difference. Every bit of it was folded, packed and crated for delivery – then sent on its way. Imagine the scene with me… Somewhere in a Third World country a gaggle of barefoot wide-eyed kids dressed in tattered clothing stand around huge crates. They have just come in off a dusty field, sweaty and grimy from hours of playing their favorite game. Their wide-eyed stares dissolve into huge grins and whoops of delight as uniform after uniform comes pouring from the crate. Enough for all of them! Enough to make them look like a real team! Enough to make them believe someone, somewhere, cares… In that moment a kernel of love and self-respect is planted in the hearts of these kids. Mike has just set in place a dynamic that will produce results and good things for years to come. He wanted to make a difference. In doing so, he gave hundreds of kids in California the ability to give as well. He gave joy to churches and missionary groups who saw evidence of the ability of kids to make a difference. And he gave hundreds of poverty-stricken, soccer-mad kids great joy, hope, and the belief there are people in the world who know and care about them. And there's no telling what kinds of great things that will produce! All because Mike looked at a pile of dusty gear in his closet and thought about how he could give. What about you. What do you have to give? It doesn't have to be a lot in order to make a difference. Look around you. Look inside you. What do you have to give? It's true – You can't outgive the Universe. But I made a decision long ago… I'm going to TRY! Will you join me?
Have you ever heard the saying, "the arrow that hits the bull's eye is the result of a hundred misses"? It's a great saying and means that success is the result of much practice and never quitting. It's also a comforting saying for those of us who are pursuing dreams that aren't quite happening the way we envisioned them. There are many stories of people who refused to give up their dreams. One such person is Ray Charles. Ray lost his sight at the age of six and his mother told him, "Ray, you've lost your sight, but you haven't lost your mind. You can still create a productive life for yourself." Those words fostered Ray's dream of becoming a recording star -- not just producing an album -- but becoming a star. He would sit and practice the piano and sing every day. One day a teacher heard him practicing at school and told him, "Ray, you can't play the piano, and God knows you can't sing. You'd better learn how to weave chairs so you can support yourself." Ouch! I wonder how many people would have let such a comment kill their dream. But young Ray didn't. He kept focused on his goal and went for audition after audition. He was told that he couldn't carry a tune and would never become a star. But he still didn't quit. We all know that Ray's perseverance paid off. He's received countless music awards, won 12 Grammies, and has been inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has performed before millions of people including presidents and heads of state. The next time someone tries to shoot down your dream, pick up another arrow and notch it into your bow! Your dream is yours and if you keep true to it and keep persevering, one day you will hit that bull's eye -- just like Ray did!
An Unlikely Torch Bearer
She was an unlikely candidate to carry the famed Olympic torch. Instead of running, 88 year old Osceola McCarty, walked – slowed by advanced arthritis. There was a motorcycle policeman on either side, there to support the torch she was holding her hand under when she became too tired to hold it aloft herself. The crowds cheered while she smiled and beamed. Osceola never dreamed such an honor would be hers. She didn't dream of any of the honors heaped on her in the years after… But wait - I'm getting ahead of myself… Osceola McCarty had dreams of being a nurse when she was a little girl growing up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Her dreams were laid aside when family needs forced her to leave school at 13 and join her grandmother, mother and aunt beside the washing pot in the back yard. That big black kettle, boiling away under the relentless Mississippi sun, pelting rain, or cold winds, became her existence. You could find her, from early in the morning until late in the evening, either washing clothes or stooped over a hot iron as she crisped them up. At some point she became content with her life. She loved her work but she thought a lot about what education would have meant to her if she could have stayed in school. Osceola buried her grandmother, then her mother, then her aunt. And she kept right on washing and ironing. 75 years worth. She lived alone. She walked everywhere she went. She didn't talk much because there was no one to talk to. She pretty much just worked. With the exception of the trip she made to the bank every month to put money away for her future. In 87 years she had only been out of Mississippi once. So how did this elderly black woman end up carrying the Olympic torch? Well, it all began the day she made her monthly trip to the bank. She had decided to retire because the arthritis in her hands had gotten so bad. The bank officers suggested she should make plans about what she was going to do with all her money. All her money? Yes. 75
years of savings, of putting away small amounts of money, had grown to more than $200,000! Osceola knew she wasn't going to live forever. After some thought, Osceola decided that upon her death she would give 10% to the church, 10% each to 3 cousins, and the rest, $150,000, to the University of Southern Mississippi right there in Hattiesburg. "I just want the scholarship to go to some child who needs it, to whoever is not able to help their children," Osceola said. "I'm too old to get an education, but they can." She never dreamed of the uproar her gift would cause. Nor the honors that would be heaped on her – meeting President Clinton; numerous awards; an honorary doctorate from Harvard University; the keys to cities; travel all over America; and so much more. Osceola simply wanted what she had worked so hard for all her life to make a difference for others. Her philosophies of life were simple and powerful. On work: "I knew there were people who didn't have to work as hard as I did, but it didn't make me feel sad. I loved to work, and when you love to do anything, those things don't bother you." On saving money: "A smart person plans for the future. You never know what kind of emergency will come up, and you can't rely on the government to meet all your needs. You have to take responsibility for yourself." You see, success means different things to different people. Success to Osceola meant working hard, saving her money, and then in the end – making a difference to others. She never had much as far as material things but when she died in 1999 at the age of 91, she was rich beyond belief in all the things that truly mattered. How do you define success? Too many people never answer that question for themselves. They let the world define success for them, and then wonder why they are dissatisfied with the results of their life. Take some time and discover the answer for YOUR life. Here's one more of Osceola's beliefs:
On good living: "There's a lot of talk about self-esteem these days. It seems pretty basic to me. If you want to feel proud of yourself, you've got to do things you can be proud of. Feelings follow actions." Have a wonderful day!
"Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now. ~P.T. Barnum
Mike was a cab driver – working his way through college. One night he was facing final exams and hoping for some down time to study. He needed the cab fares but he needed to study for his Biology final even more. A call came in about 2:15 a.m., taking him to an older part of town. When he arrived at 2:30, the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. Mike considered it briefly but he had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, he always went to the door. His open Biology book tempted him but he sighed and climbed out of the cab. When he knocked on the door he was answered by a frail, elderly voice. “Just a minute…” He could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80's, wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, gazed up at him. She looked like somebody out of a 1940's movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware. "Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. Mike took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took his arm and they walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking him for his kindness. "It's nothing", he told her. This little old lady reminded him of his grandmother. He knew he would want someone to take care of her. When she got in the cab, she gave him an address, then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?" "It's not the shortest way," he answered quickly, thinking of saving her money, as well as of the studying he needed to do. "Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice".
Mike looked in the rear-view mirror and saw her eyes were glistening with tears. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long." Mike quietly reached over and shut off the meter. Biology book and pushed it aside "What route would you like me to take?" he asked. For the next two hours, they drove through the city. She showed him the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. They drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had him pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. They laughed as talked as she shared stories of her life. Sometimes she'd ask him to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I'm tired. Let's go now." They drove in silence to the address she had given him. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as Mike pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. It was obvious they had been expecting her. Mike opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. "How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse. "Nothing," he replied. "You have to make a living," she answered. "There are other passengers," he responded. Almost without thinking, Mike bent and gave her a hug. She held onto him tightly. "You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you." Mike squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind him, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. He also closed his
Mike didn't pick up any more passengers that shift and he didn’t open his Biology book. He drove aimlessly lost in thought. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if he had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, Mike didn’t think he had ever done anything more important in his life. We're conditioned to think our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one. Here’s something for you to think about today… It’s really not important what kind of car you drive. What’s important is how many people you drive who don’t have transportation. It doesn’t matter how big your house is. What’s important is how many people you welcome into your home. The amount of clothes you have aren’t important. What matters is how many people you help clothe. Though I hope you have grand success, the amount of money you make won’t matter if you compromise your character to obtain it. It doesn’t matter if you make great grades – what’s important is that you perform to the best of your ability. It’s not really important how many friends you have. What really counts is how many people you are a friend to. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you live in. What’s important is how you treat your neighbors. All of us have the opportunity – every day – do something with our life that matters. What will you do today?
Life is Precious
Sometimes it takes a major crisis to wake us up to how precious life is. That's what happened to Lance Armstrong, one of the world's great athletes. It's said that if Lance's story were written as a movie, it would be dismissed as "trite melodrama." But here's the truth. A deadly disease struck a promising athlete. Despite desperately thin odds, he managed to not only beat the cancer, but to return to the sport he loved and win its most coveted prize. But the beauty of Lance's story is that it doesn't end on the finish line of the Tour de France. His life has taken on new meaning and his website says: "No matter what his path, he will travel it with sure knowledge that every day is precious and that every step matters." Lance was always athletic and competitive and his mother supported it. At age 13 he won the Iron Kids Triathlon and became a professional when he was only 16 years old. It nearly cost him his high school diploma as he trained with the U.S. Olympic cycling developmental team in Colorado Springs his senior year. Lance's rise in the amateur ranks was seemingly effortless and he qualified for the junior world championships in Moscow in 1989. By 1991 he was the U.S. National Amateur Champion and soon afterward turned professional. Once in the professional realm, Lance would become the number 1 ranked cyclist with a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. But seeming tragedy struck while at the top of his game. Lance was forced off his bike in excruciating pain. In early October of 1996 he was given the devastating news that he had cancer. In that moment, Lance's life changed forever. Tests showed his advanced cancer had spread to his lungs and brain and his chances for recovery were far less than 50-50. Scared to death but determined, Lance started an aggressive form of chemotherapy. It worked, and his thoughts slowly returned to racing. Even though the cancer had left him scarred physically and emotionally, Lance says it ". . . was the best thing that ever happened to me." His new perspective pushed him beyond racing to embrace the cancer community. He started the Lance Armstrong Foundation within months of his diagnosis to help others with their struggles with cancer.
Lance went on to win the Tour de France in 1999 and became an international hero to both the racing world and the cancer community! He went on to win six more Tour de France titles and has been awarded nearly every sports honor there is. Lance Armstrong has become a symbol of hope and inspiration! I hope it won't take a crisis like Lance Armstrong's for you to embrace life with a grateful heart. I hope that regardless of the struggles you may be facing today, in your heart-of-hearts, you too can say "every day is precious and every step matters."
"What this power is, I cannot say. All I know is that it exists. . . and it becomes available only when you are in that state of mind in which you know exactly what you want. . . and are fully determined not to quit until you get it. ~Alexander Bell
Sable and the Log
I wasn’t expecting to learn a huge life lesson that particular morning… Many mornings you can find me hiking up a local mountain with my dogs – allowing them to run free on the trails and through the woods. This particular day was typical of the Northwest during winter. Heavy gray skies hugged the mountain, wisps of fog dancing through the towering Douglas Firs. Heavy rain the night before was still dripping off the trees, providing a beautiful background chorus as I hiked. I will admit I wasn’t paying much attention to my dogs. I never did. They knew the mountain and loved to roam free. They would always find me to check back in every ten minutes or so. I had hiked to the end of the trail and was just turning around to start back down when a chorus of barking started – drifting up from somewhere down the mountain. I know my dog’s barks. I can tell if they have treed a squirrel or come upon an intruder. I can also tell when they’re in trouble. This bark clearly spelled trouble. I quickened my pace. Suddenly, Bogey, my Rottweiler, came racing around the curve in the trail. As soon as he spotted me, he whipped around and started back down. The barks further down the mountain had now turned into frantic yelps. My walk became a run as I raced down the trail. Sable, my Labrador, clearly needed my help. I ran for about a quarter mile before I spotted Bogey on the edge of the trail, running back and forth, barking furiously. I raced up to him, looked down, then started to laugh. It took me only a moment to figure out what had happened. The dogs had been running through the woods when they decided to come up on the trail. Bogey, being the more athletic of the two, had simply jumped over the log that stood in his way. Sable couldn’t make it. When I ran up he was trying frantically to crawl up and over the log, yelping his fear as he failed over and over. All he knew was he had been left behind. So why was I laughing?
The log he was trying to jump over was about 6 feet long. On either side there was a clear trail he could have used to come up to the logging road. But, noooo…. He had seen Bogey jump over the log so that must be the only way to do it. That log was all he could see. I did everything I could to call him over to the end of the log so he could see his way up. He would move a foot or two either direction but each time returned to his futile attempt to jump the log. His frantic yelps continued to ring through the woods. While it was funny, it was also maddening. I did not want to crawl down that muddy embankment to save a dog that didn’t need saving. I ended up crawling down the bank…. All because he couldn’t see beyond his present circumstances. All I did was move him over 2 feet. He saw the trail and seconds later was on the road, greeting Bogey as if they’d been apart for days. How many of us are like that? We watch how one person achieves success at something and we decide that’s the only way. We don’t take into consideration our own style, our own strength, or our own limitations. We don’t realize success is achievable – we may just need to do it another way. We become fixated on doing it THAT way. And we fail. Not because we weren’t capable. Not because success wasn’t attainable. We fail because we wouldn’t consider another way. There is always a way to achieve your goal. Be creative. Think outside the box. Find the way that fits you. Then go do it!
Roses and Thorns
I recently read a story about a 4-year-old who loved to dress herself. As is often the case with children that age, she often mixed stripes with plaids and tee shirts with ballerina tutus. Her mother never knew what to expect when she would come downstairs. One day the little girl came downstairs dressed in a pink tutu, a pink and brown plaid blouse, one tennis shoe and one patent leather dress shoe. She had a pink head band, pink scarf, and a pink necklace she'd "borrowed" from her mother's jewelry box. She greeted her mommy with, "Hi Mommy, I'm a rose." "You look beautiful, honey, just like a rose." It was then that the little girl pointed to a toothpick she had sticking out from under her headband. "See Mommy, here's my thorn." Most of us adults will chuckle at that story and wonder at a child including a thorn with her rose outfit. But really, doesn't she have the right idea? When we think of a rose, we generally think of just the blossom. But unless they have been removed, roses have thorns. The thorns make us appreciate the blossoms all the more. Life is the same. The things that cause us pain or discomfort; challenge us, or prick our consciences -- these are the things that force us to face those issues that end up defining who we are and who we will become. Don't be afraid of the thorns in life -- use them to help you grow and become "beautiful."
Turning Failure Into Success
Jean Nidetch took her failures and transformed then into amazing success. You may not know the name of this formerly overweight housewife. But I bet you’ve heard of what she started. But, hey, I’m getting ahead of myself… Jean’s background certainly didn’t indicate tremendous success for the future. Born in New York, she graduated from high school with a partial college scholarship but couldn’t attend because her family couldn’t pay the rest. She decided to attend a business school but had barely begun when her father died – forcing her to quit and take a fulltime job. She moved from one low paying job to another, eventually marrying and becoming a homemaker and mother of two. She left the work place but devoted a lot of time to working with various organizations and charities. And she kept gaining weight. She had been overweight as a child. She was overweight as an adult. She tried everything to conquer her problem – diets, doctors, medications. Nothing worked long-term. She was desperate to find a way to conquer her problem so she headed for the New York Health Obesity Clinic. She was given a diet to follow but she fell right back into the cheating that always defeated her. She kept her failures to herself. The woman running the clinic had never been overweight. “How could she understand the cheating of an overweight housewife,” Jean asked. Desperate for someone to talk to, she invited 6 overweight friends to her house. The first meeting was so helpful they decided to meet weekly to share their success and struggles. The meeting kept growing as more women joined them. Soon she was organizing meetings for hundreds of women – charging just 25 cents a week to cover costs. And her weight kept coming off. When she reached her personal goal she reached out to help her family. Her husband lost 70 pounds. Her mother shed 57. From her victory, and the victories of those she reached out to help, she began to realize this was bigger than just her original desire to lose weight.
On May 15, 1963, Weight Watchers was born. From the living room of her small New York home, Weight Watchers grew to an international business worth millions - that helped millions. Jean Nidetch remained slim and became the spokeswoman for her exploding company, traveling all around the world – helping others to change their lives the same way she did. Her Success Secret? She found a way to solve a problem of her own, then invited other people along on the journey. I’ve had people tell me, “Ginny, all the problems have been solved, and all the ideas for making money have been used.” Hogwash! As long as there is life there will be problems. There will be ideas for success. Your job is to get out of your tiny little “box” and start thinking and dreaming of solutions. Her other Success Secret? She never started out to become a millionaire. She started out to solve her own problem. Then she wanted to help others. (Remember, she only charged 25 cents per meeting in the beginning.) Her great success sprang from a desire to make a difference. Think outside the box. If you haven’t experienced the success you want in life, start paying attention and see where you can make a difference. It’s there. You just have to open your heart and mind to find it. The answer will probably surprise you, but that’s half the fun!
Mama's Ming Vase
Pierre was only 13 years old when his mama taught him a lesson he has never forgotten… I was thirteen, good-looking, a magazine model, and somewhat confident in my appeal to girls – perhaps more than somewhat confident… I was arrogant and not always kind. My mama, watching me grow from a boy to a man knew she needed to teach me a lesson. I lived in a beautiful home, full of exquisite art and antiques. Mama’s Ming Vase held a special place in our art collection. I knew it had been produced during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) in China. I knew it was a highly prized and valuable piece. I knew she loved it. I also knew I was always to be very careful not to break it. The event that stands out in my memory began with a conversation in the kitchen. “Pierre,” my mama said, “How you treat your wife in the future will be how you treat your mother now.” I was listening, and I’ve never forgotten her words, but evidently she wasn’t sure her thirteen year old son had gotten the message. She gazed at me for a few moments, and then turned and walked from the kitchen. When she reappeared she was holding her treasured Ming vase. Without saying a word, she held it up, fixed me with her gaze, and then dropped it. I watched, stunned and speechless, as her precious vase shattered on the floor around me. “Mama!” I finally managed to gasp. “Now, Pierre,” she said calmly and quietly, “I want you to pick all the pieces up. I’m going to get some glue.” I was down on my knees instantly, still reeling from watching the priceless vase fall from her hands – knowing I would never forget the sight of it breaking all around me – pieces of clay dug from the banks of Chinese rivers over 600 hundred years ago. What could have possibly possessed my elegant mother to do such a thing? Once I had gathered up every shard of glossy sided clay, I laid them on the table. They shimmered in the kitchen, the light playing off the beautiful colors that had minutes before been part of an exquisite
piece of art. I stared at them and then looked at my mother – waiting for an explanation. Mama held up the glue and then handed it to me. “Now, I want you to glue the vase back together.” I stared at her, and then wordlessly began to do as she asked - trying to put together the puzzle of pieces to resemble what had once been. She watched my even if you were there will always was once a rare, clay.” futile attempts for a while and then said, “Pierre, to successfully put this vase back together again, be cracks. It will never be as it was before. What beautiful piece of art becomes a piece of worthless
She stopped to let those words sink in. I was still grasping to understand why she had done it. “Once it is all back together,” she continued, “were you to drop it again, there would be even more cracks if you tried to glue it again.” She paused for a long moment, allowing me to imagine just what the vase would become if I continued to break it. “Son, the time would come that even though you were to continue to glue it together, pieces would be lost, the cracks would become jagged edges, and it would cease to resemble a vase.” Knowing I was still stunned by what had happened, she drove her point home. “Son, relationships are like that. Every time you speak unkind words or do unkind things, irreparable harm is done. You can never take words back once they are spoken. You can never undo hurt once it has been inflicted. What was once a beautiful treasure has been broken. Try as you might, you can never recreate exactly what was there before. It will always have cracks. If you continue to inflict hurt on the one you love, the day will come when, just like this Ming vase, it will no longer resemble what it was created to be, and you will lose your love.” Silence filled the kitchen as my brain and heart absorbed her wisdom. “Son, never inflict pain. Be careful of the words that come from your mouth – knowing they can never be reclaimed. Treasure your love and your relationships. They are the only things of real value you will ever own.” My mama quietly picked up the pieces of the Ming vase, kissed me on the forehead, and left me to my thoughts.
The lessons she taught that day have stayed with me for 45 years. Relationships are truly the only things that hold real value. I must treasure and protect them just as I would a valuable piece of fine art.
"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves." ~Amelia Earhart
Have you heard about the little boy who was playing with an expensive vase and got his hand stuck in it? In a panic, he yelled for help and his father came running. They worked and worked and worked to get his little hand out of the vase but to no avail. Finally, in desperation his father decided to break the valuable piece of art. But just before he did, he told his son, "We're going to try one more thing. Open your hand and point your fingers out straight and pull." "Oh, no, Daddy I can't do that!" whimpered his son. "Why not?" asked the father. "Because I'll drop my penny." Many of us are like that little boy when it comes to failed relationships and unaccomplished goals. We hold onto the pain and rehearse it over and over again. We refuse to let go of it so we remain in a place of frustration, anger and bitterness, and we are unable to pull ourselves out of it. Because we want what we can't have, we become stuck in self-destructive behavior. If we would just open our hands and hearts to new relationships, or open our minds and set new goals, we could slip out of the old destructive patterns and get on with a fruitful and productive life. Do you have areas in your life that you are holding on to -- that you keep recycling -- that have you stuck? Determine today that you are going to open your hand, drop the destructive behavior, and pull out into the excitement and beauty of life again.
Doomed to Failure
Sandi Watkins was doomed to be a failure. At least that's what people thought. That's what they said. By the time Sandi got to high school she had the reputation as the biggest trouble-maker in town. She had a long arrest record, mostly for petty crimes, but everyone knew she was on the fast-track to prison. Teachers cringed when they say her name on their list. Sandi was sullen; sitting slumped in her seat, ignoring everything going on around her. She had flunked every class in high school but she kept moving up because not one teacher in her school wanted to have her back again. Sandi was moving on - but she was most certainly not moving up. No one tried to get to know her. Teachers, and most kids, were afraid of her. No one knew when she would erupt with anger, and fights were common. By her senior year, everyone was simply counting the days until Sandi was gone. Then Sandi did a strange thing. She signed up for a leadership conference that was designed to get students involved in their communities. It was only because she wanted to get out of class, but something happened that first day... At first she merely stood against the wall and watched with disdain. She would join the discussion groups but only mumbled a few words when it was her turn to speak. But slowly the interactive games drew her in. She really began to open up when her group was asked to make a list of positive and negative things that had happened at school that year. She certainly had some things to add about that. You could see the surprise on her face when the other kids in the group actually listened to her. She kept talking. Her group told Sandi her ideas made a lot of sense. They began to treat her like a leader. Suddenly everyone realized Sandi was really smart and had some great ideas. The next day Sandi continued to share her ideas, signing up to be part of the Homeless Project Team. It was clear she knew something about poverty, hunger and hopelessness. No one was more surprised than Sandi when they elected her to be co-chair of the team.
Okay, maybe the teachers were more surprised - appalled actually. They insisted Sandi couldn't do it, that it was ridiculous to put something so important into Sandi Watkins' hands. The principle held firm, however - telling them they might be surprised. I'm sure he was hoping he was right. Sandi and her team put together a Homeless Scavenger Hunt. They went to the Homeless Shelters to find out what they needed most. Then they made a list of things they planned to collect, assigning the most points to those items the shelters needed most. She found out the homeless rarely get dessert, so she gave high points to cookies, brownie & cake mixes, etc. High scores also went for blankets and coats. Two weeks later, 100 kids hit the streets of their town, followed by support vans to carry their haul. 4 hours later they met back at the school to load everything into a school bus and take it to the shelter. There was a slight problem, however. By the time the school bus was loaded, there was room for only one person - the driver. Every seat, every square inch of floor, all the way to the ceiling, was packed with what they had collected. Coats, blankets, clothing, food, a lot of desserts - it was the most the Shelter had ever received. The shelter residents had huge smiles on their faces as they filed out to help unload the bus. They cheered Sandi and her team. The paper was there to take pictures and tell stories. Sandi was a hero. A leader. She was definitely a changed person. The rest of her senior year she actually talked in class. She made good grades. She put together 2 more projects for the Homeless Shelter, each time bringing them what they needed. There were no more arrests. Sandi graduated in the spring and went on to college - with glowing recommendations from many teachers at her school. Every year she leads 4 projects for the Homeless Shelters in the town where she goes to school. Here is what Sandi has to say, "I was on the fast-track to nowhere. I was the only one who could change where my life was going. It was scary but I knew what would happen if I didn't change was worse. I learned I really could make a difference. It changed my whole life. And I learned that other people could believe in me if I only gave them a chance."
Sandi asked me to share her story to let you know you can be whatever you want to be. It's always your choice. She also wanted me to tell you that a little belief goes a long way. One adult deciding to believe in her - to look beyond what everyone else saw - set her free to be who she really was. She's hoping you'll look around today and choose to believe in someone. Make good choices today.
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~Leo Buscaglia
The Soldier's List
Let's talk about something that can be tough at any age Relationships. What kind of relationships? You name it? It could be with someone you would like to have a romantic relationship with. It could be with someone you do have a romantic relationship with. It could be a friend. It could be a family member. Each one has its share of challenges. Relationships can be a source of great joy. They can also make you want to pull your hair out. They can make you want to disappear from the face of the earth because they cause nothing but pain. They can make you want to hide because you don't always say, or do, the right thing. Welcome to the Human Race! Here's a secret. There is NO ONE on the face of the earth who doesn't feel those things sometimes. As we roll through the year I'll throw out lots of scenarios and situations to you. For now, I want to share a story with you... One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers. That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much." were most of the comments. No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose.
The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on. Several years later, one of the students was killed in combat. His teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin. As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded. "Yes." Then he said, "Mark talked about you a lot." After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it." Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him... "Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it." All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary." Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: "I think we all
saved our lists." That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again. _________________________________________ Sometimes it's easy to forget life will end one day. No one knows when that day will come. There are people in your life right now that need to know they are special. They need to know you love them and value them for what they have given to your life. You can never go wrong by letting someone know they matter. Remember what I said earlier...? EVERYONE has fears and doubts. Everyone has secret hurts. Everyone needs to know they are special. Take the time today to make someone feel special. Tell them. Give a card. Write a note. Communicate it in whatever way is most natural for you. Their life will be richer for it and so will yours!
"The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all." ~Leo Rosten
I'm an animal lover and have always had pets. Currently I have 3 dogs, 2 cats and a parakeet. At other times I've had snakes (garter and boa), anoles (lizards), rats, hamsters, a cockatiel, and an Easter chick that turned into a crowing rooster. Most of our pets were strays of one kind or another. I've owned pedigrees and mutts -- each had a unique character and charm of its own. I was just reading an article about the recent trend of creating "designer" or "hybrid" dogs. These are canines bred from two different "purebred" parents, such as Cockapoos - or Cockerpoos - (American Cocker Spaniel and Poodle mix) and Labradoodles (Labrador Retriever and Standard or Miniature Poodle mix). A popular one is the Puggle which is a mix between a Pug and a Beagle. I've heard it said that dogs and their human owners begin to look alike after awhile. That reminds me of a scene in 101 Dalmatians when Pongo is watching dogs and humans pass by his apartment window. The animators did indeed make the humans resemble their canine friends. It made me want to go look in the mirror and see which of my dogs I looked like! :-) Just for fun, if you were to categorize yourself in "doggie terms" would you classify yourself as a purebred, designer, or mixed breed? How do you feel about that? Let me share with you that regardless of how you classified yourself, and regardless of how you got to where you are right now, your future only depends on what you are doing today. In other words, your future is NOT dependent on your past, but on the attitude and actions you are living by today -- this very moment. Don't limit yourself to looking like your past. Make the necessary adjustments today so you will have the future you desire!
I tell you often that your life will be whatever you decide to make it. Has that sunk in, or is your brain still spewing out every reason why it isn't true for you? Do you think I can't possibly know who you really are? I can't possibly know what your life is really like? Let me share a story with you... Kemmons Wilson had it tough growing up. His father died when he was nine months old. His young mother, only 18 years old, struggled to provide for her son. There were times there was so little money that they lived on a few pounds of dried butter beans for a week at a time. What got him through those times was his mother's love. Every night she sat her little boy on her lap and said, "You are designed for greatness and you can do anything in life if you're willing to work hard enough to get it." At 14 years old, Kemmons was hit by a car. The doctors said he would never walk again. He chose to believe differently. He could do anything if he was willing to work hard enough. One year later, he returned to school - walking on his own. Then the Great Depression hit. His Mom lost her job along with millions of others. He made the decision to quit school and provide for the woman who had done so much for him. The day he quit school, he made it his mission in life to succeed. He vowed to never be poor again. He experienced varying levels of success over the years but he had not achieved his goal of financial success when he took his wife and kids on a vacation in 1951. He was frustrated by the shoddy accommodations available for families, and furious they dared to charge $2 extra per child. He knew it was too expensive. His frustrating experience sparked an idea! He would offer an alternative - a hotel people could trust that would never charge extra for children. It was a completely new concept and most people predicted failure from the beginning.
Kemmons chose to believe differently. As with any business, he experienced enormous challenges. Money was short. Many times payment was an IOU. He had to overcome one obstacle after another - choosing to believe in his success every single day. 15 years later, Holiday Inn was the largest hotel system in the world, with one of the most recognizable names in the business. Kemmons had a belief that carried him through? "You may not have started life in the best of circumstances. But if you can find a mission in life worth working for and believe in yourself, nothing can stop you from achieving success." Every generation always believes all the great ideas have already been taken. There is nothing left for you. Ridiculous! Your world is brimming with possibilities. Your job is to keep your mind and heart open. Find and identify that which fills a need and ignites your passion. Where you are in life today is not what is important. What's important is where you plan to be tomorrow; next year; 10 years from now.
"Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. . . You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
We've talked about a lot of things that are crucial to success in life. All of them are important. This one is imperative. Only you can provide it. Only you can produce what is needed. Only you can make sure you have it. Only you can do what it takes to keep it. What am I talking about? Your attitude. I'm talking about your attitude. You know, our attitudes are among the few possessions that are totally ours and can never be taken from us. Houses and cars come and go, but our values and attitudes are with us forever. It is only when we continually exercise control over our own attitudes that we can manage external circumstances. Real change comes first from the inside. Our behavior naturally follows. There will be things in life that challenge our ability to keep a positive, good attitude. I'm sure that doesn't come as a surprise to you. Life can deal a blow to our attitude. But only if you let it. It is up to you to determine how you will react to them. No one can do what it takes to succeed when they are depressed, especially in a world in which success results more often from attitude than ability. Many people fail simply because of their attitudes. So often success is dependent on getting other people to join you in your mission. We can't expect others to join us if it is obvious to them we are less than satisfied. Remember, enthusiasm is contagious. Let me give you something to think about. This was written by Charles Swindoll, a best selling author. "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. "The remarkable think is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past; we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The
only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I'm convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes." Think about what you are trying to accomplish in your life right now. Is your attitude helping you or hurting you? Are you drawing people to you or driving them away? Are you a pleasure or a pain to be around? You may not like your answers but here is the good news. You can change it! You can decide to change your attitude and be someone different. Your attitude is truly up to you. What is it going to be today?
"Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by how we react to what happens; not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results." ~Unknown
Carrots, Eggs & Coffee
You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again..... A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots. In the second she placed eggs. In the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee into a bowl. All the time the daughter is looking at her as if she's lost her mind. Turning to her daughter, the mother asked, "Tell me what you see?" "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted they were limp and soft. The mother then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, the daughter observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma, but was confused. "What's the point, mother?" "Daughter, each of these objects faced the same adversity - boiling water - but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. It came out soft and weak. The egg began fragile. Its thin outer shell protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. They actually changed the boiling water. Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
How would you answer that question? Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, wilts and becomes soft and loses your strength? Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did you begin with a fluid spirit, but after death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, did you become bitter, hardened and stiff? Or are you like the coffee bean? The bean actually changed the hot water, the very circumstance that brought the pain. When the water got hot, it released the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst you get better and change the situation around you. How do YOU handle Adversity? ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN? I'm hoping you decide to be a Coffee Bean, releasing the sweet fragrance of your life into a world that so badly needs you!
"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same." ~Carlos Casteneda
How many balls of clay do you know? Let me tell you a story about Clay Balls... A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn't look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could. He liked to watch the splash they made and he thought at least he had found something to do with the useless balls of clay. Everything changed when he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone! He stared wide-eyed at the sparkling gem. Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands but he had just thrown it away! So what's the moral of this story...? It's like that with people. Most of them are clay balls. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see a clay ball. It doesn't look like much on the outside. It isn't always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful. More stylish. More popular. They may not be wealthy or smart. The problem is, we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person. There is a treasure in each and every person you know. I know it can sometimes be hard to see. But if we take the time to get to know that person, often times the clay ball will crack open and you will discover a brilliant jewel that will enrich your life. You will discover an amazing friend and an amazing person.
My hope is that you will not come to the end of your life and find out you have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. May you take the time to see ALL the people in your life as special people.
"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Miracle of Chinese Bamboo
I'd like to introduce you to the miracle of Chinese Bamboo... It all begins with a seed - and with the vision of someone willing to wait... A Chinese farmer, usually struggling to survive and provide for his family, plants the seed and sets his hope and vision on all it will provide when it towers 90 feet above his head. With a heart toward the future he digs hole after hole, plants the seeds, then begins their care. Day after day he carries water to the spot he has marked. And because it's human nature to want to see results he carefully inspects "the spot" every day. Nothing. Knowing he has to feed his family he plants other crops, carefully sewn around "the spots" that contain the real hope for his future. He continues to water them every day, feeding them carefully, and watching... Nothing. The other crops sprout within weeks, providing nourishment for his family within months, but provide nothing for the future. These crops will not make his dreams come true - they will simply provide for the now. The Chinese Bamboo seeds contain all his hopes, his dreams... A whole year goes by... Nothing. He continues to haul water. He stares endlessly at "the spots" but sees nothing but barren ground. His hopes, his dreams, seem so very far away. There is no evidence of life. Has the seed rotted? Has it died before it ever had a chance to grow? Another year goes by... Nothing. His neighbors - those who don't know and believe in the miracle of the Chinese Bamboo - laugh at him. They mock his vision for the future. They look on with scorn as he hauls buckets of water to "the spots". He begins to question himself. Will it ever grow? Is he pouring water, and his life's energy, into something that will reap no reward for him? Another year goes by...
Nothing. 3 years of pouring water, energy and hope into the Chinese Bamboo. Nothing to show for it. Yet he's heard of the miracle of the Chinese Bamboo. He's heard of the huge rewards that come to those who believe. One day he stands over "the spots" and he cries his frustration and fears. "The spots" reveal nothing, the barren ground seeming to mock him, yet the wind whispers hope to him. He sighs and hauls yet more buckets of water. Another year goes by... Nothing. 4 years.... 4 years of hoping, wishing, diligently tending his dream. Surely the miracle will happen now. His neighbors have quit laughing. They no longer even care - yet they talk quietly among themselves of the farmer who "isn't quite right". At this point the farmer isn't even sure... Yet he's fallen into a habit so he continues to water "the spots". He continues to feed them. It's simply what he does now, with no knowledge of reward - just the simply, now unspoken hope, that life resides beneath the spots he so carefully tends. Another year passes... Nothing. 5 years. The farmer is tired. Tired of hauling buckets. Tired of growing and tending so many other crops to feed his struggling family. Tired of trying to keep his dream alive. Tired of seeing no results day after day. He stares hopelessly at "the spots". There can not possibly be life after so many years. He must have watered them wrong. He must not have fed them correctly. If only he had done things differently, there would be growth. Despair rocks his soul. 5 years he has poured into his dream - into his hope for a better future. His dream mocks him. The vision of a better life for his family melts away under harsh reality. Tears fill his eyes as he grabs for the last hope residing in his soul and slowly lifts the bucket to pour water on to his dream. After 5 years he realizes it would be folly to give up now... Then comes the morning when the whole village is jolted awake by the cries of joy from the farmer. They watch startled from their windows as he runs down the dusty road calling for his family to come see. As his family races back up the road after him, the rest of the village pours from their houses to see what has the crazy farmer so excited. They find the family clustered around "the spots", talking excitedly. From the edge of the road they can see green sprouts thrusting out from the barren ground. They seem to be growing before their very
eyes! The farmer is dancing. "The miracle has happened!" he cries. "The miracle has come!" "The spots" become the place for everyone in the village to come watching in amazement as the bamboo grows, and grows, and grows. 5 feet. 10 feet. 20. 30. 40. 50. 60. 70. 80. 90... In just 6 weeks the bamboo has grown 90 feet tall! 5 years of nothing and now this... 90 feet in 6 weeks! It is truly a miracle! The farmer stands to the side. He is aware all his dreams have come true. The harvest of the bamboo will provide for all he dreamed of for his family. He also realizes the lessons he has learned are far more valuable. He learned to plant a dream. He learned to do the daily things that would make it a reality. He learned to ignore those who said it couldn't happen. He learned to push past his own fear and doubt and keep taking action. He learned to have faith when there was no reason to have faith.
Now he smiles every time he walks through the village. Everyone is hauling buckets of water to their own "spots". Gazing over at his towering 90 feet tall bamboo, they know what can happen. Because of him. Because of his willingness to blaze the trail and make his dream come true. What about you? What are you willing to do to make your dreams come true? How long are you willing to work? How long are you willing to go to school? How much faith and belief are you willing to have? I hope your answer is one that will help you achieve all you dream of in life!
I love to watch the Olympics. While, as an athlete, I love the competition, I am more enthralled by the athletes themselves. Often times, the stories of their lives are far more exciting and motivating than the actual event. A great example is Ray Ewry… The 1800's was not a good time (not that there is ever a good time) to contract polio. Most of those who survived the ravaging disease ended up crippled, in wheelchairs, or in heavy iron braces. They were the lucky ones – the ones who didn't spend the rest of their lives in an "iron lung". Ray Ewry was among the "lucky ones". This young boy's bout with polio left him stuck in a wheelchair with heavy iron braces, and the voice of his doctor resounding in his head - "You will never walk again, Ray." Ray decided to prove them wrong. He couldn't imagine a life without being able to run and play through the beautiful Indiana countryside. He had no one to tell him how that might happen so he had to figure it out for himself. He created a strict regimen of leg exercises and then his family put his legs through "Ray's workout". Every day. Many times a day… For weeks… For months… He pushed through pain, fear, and daily discouragement by keeping his eyes on the goal – walking. Finally the day came when he was able to walk away from his wheelchair. Then he left his metal braces behind. He could walk! That was an incredible victory but his accomplishments so far only made him hunger for more. He developed more exercises and worked out diligently. Soon he was running. Then he was jumping. What did he do next? He set his goals even higher, becoming a competitive athlete in track and field. He graduated from Purdue University in 1897 with many medals. Yet there was more to be accomplished. The Olympics had just restarted in 1896. Ray set his sights on competing in 3 events. You may not recognize them because they are no longer Olympic events: the standing high jump; the standing long jump; and the standing
hop, step and jump. Just think our current "jump events" without the running start and you'll be able to envision what he did. He prepared for them with the same determination and tenacity that got him out of his wheelchair. His trip to the Paris Olympics resulted in 3 gold medals. In the remaining 8 years of his Olympic competition he collected 7 more. That's right – 10 Gold Medals! Ray Ewry became known as the Human Frog because of the amazing power in his once shriveled legs. His legacy is much greater than his ability to jump, however. When people tell you something can't be done – let him remind you of the power of persistence. When people encourage you to just give up, let Ray remind you that great things can only happen if you choose to ignore that advice. His greatest legacy is the lesson that everything is possible with hope! Live this day with determination,
"Nothing stops the man who desires to achieve. Every obstacle is simply a course to develop his achievement muscle. It's a strengthening of his powers of accomplishment. ~Eric Butterworth
The Constancy of Change
I arrived at the bank 5 minutes before opening today, so I settled back in my seat and simply enjoyed my coffee while waiting. As I sat enjoying the rare moment of silence with no demands or expectations upon me, I noticed a tiny white cloud floating by. As I watched, it started breaking up and within a few moments it completely dissipated. It took me by surprise -- I expected to just watch it float by until it left my field of vision. As I reflected on that little cloud and its sudden disappearance, I thought how much it was like life. We go through life expecting -- no, actually, depending on things to remain constant. When they change or disappear, we respond in any number of ways: anger, disappointment, bitterness, hopelessness, despair. And yet, each of us knows that everything in this life is transient or temporary. We aren't promised any more than the moment in which we are living. And part of the preciousness of life is the fact that it is so fleeting. Dreams and hopes for the future can quickly do the disappearing act like that little cloud. This is especially true if we've only been doing "wishful thinking" or busy work when it comes to achieving our dreams. However, if we have set out specific steps (goals and objectives) and remain focused on those, there is much less likelihood our vision will completely vanish. We will definitely need to make changes and adjustments, but our dreams will not disappear like a vaporous cloud. Life will be much more rewarding and fun if we embrace the reality that change is a constant. And if we are intentionally pliable and sensitive to the certainty that we will need to make changes in order to attain our dreams, life can become a journey to enjoy and savor. Don't let yourself be overcome by life's twists and turns. Realize they will come, and determine ahead of time that you will make the shifts required to continue moving forward to your heart's desire.
I'm On My Way…
It's interesting to me that the greatest success stories so often come from the most difficult backgrounds… Eilleen was born in the tiny town of Timmons, Ontario in Canada. She grew up used to bitter cold and a gnawing stomach. There were days on end when bread and milk was the entire diet of her and her 3 younger siblings. She learned to hide her poverty and hunger from friends at school but it didn't ease the suffering. About the only thing which could do that was her music. When life was more than she could handle she would retreat to her bedroom with her guitar, singing and writing until her fingers ached. The music fed her soul even while her stomach was growling. Her talent was recognized early and this little tomboy was shuttled all over to perform in clubs, bars, and anywhere else they could get her booked to make some extra money. Yet Eilleen never really thought music was her future. When she could no longer stand the poverty she managed to convince her mother to leave their father and head for Toronto. The shelter they stayed in for a long time provided the first regular meals she had ever experienced. Eilleen got her first job when she was 14, working at a McDonalds. Later, she spent summers working as the foreman of a dozen-man reforestation crew in the Canadian bush, where she learned to wield and axe and handle a chain saw as well as any man. She was tough because she had to be tough. Then things got tougher. Both parents were killed in an auto wreck and suddenly she was the parent to her siblings. She managed to survive by getting a job singing at a local resort. The experience was invaluable – giving her exposure to every aspect of theatrical performance. It broadened her perspective and prepared her for what was to come. In 1990, her siblings were grown and 23 year old Eillen was on her own. The first thing she did was change her first name to an Ojibway Indian name meaning "I'm on my way".
Shania Twain was indeed on her way. She has turned the world of Country/Pop music upside down, winning many awards along the way. Unless you live on another planet, you have probably heard of her! One of her songs really sums it up. She has this to say about the irresistible I'm Gonna Getcha Good! "There is a typical Shania attitude in the lyric, a definite female confidence. It's all about a girl who knows what she wants, she not only knows how to get it, but she's going to get it good." All of us make a choice everyday how we are going to live our lives. No one would have been surprised if little Eilleen had simply become another person sunk in poverty – trapped by the reality of a hard life. Shania Twain, however, saw her future differently. She was not content to stay where she was – determined to pay whatever price necessary to achieve her dreams. Each hard thing did nothing but strengthen her resolve and determination, teaching her how to press through to success! She learned to do the hard things. She learned how to spot opportunity in every situation. She learned how to ask for what she wanted – and just keep asking until she got where she wanted to be. She learned how to fail, then pick herself back up and do it again. Shania has shown you the way to success. The question is, if you're going to learn the lessons to create your own success… Only you know the answer!
The Daffodil Principle
Several times her daughter, Carolyn, had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over." Amanda wanted to go, but it was a two hour drive from her California home in Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. "I will come next Tuesday," she promised, reluctantly, on her daughter's third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, she had promised… When she finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted her grandchildren, she said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!" Her daughter smiled calmly. "We drive in this all the time, Mother. You'll never forgive yourself if you miss this experience." She reached for her car keys. Amanda shook her head stubbornly. "You won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!" Yet, a few minutes later, a grandchild gripping each hand, pulling, and chattering excitedly, she found herself climbing into her daughter's car. Twenty minutes later have seen in the fog. lift, the sun casting a the side, with a large Daffodil Garden. they turned onto a gravel road she never would At that same moment the fog began to swirl and shimmering glow. A tiny church perched off to hand-lettered sign off to the side that read
Amanda began to feel a strange sense of anticipation. She climbed out of the car, took a child's hand, and followed Carolyn down the path. When they turned a corner of the path, she looked up and gasped. Spread before her lay the most glorious sight she had ever seen. It appeared as though someone had taken a shimmering vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes. 5 acres of glowing daffodils were planted in majestic, swirling patterns-great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue.
After long minutes of enjoying the magnificence of the flowers, she turned to Carolyn with a question on her face. Her daughter merely pointed toward a small well kept home perched modestly to the side. When Amanda got close enough she saw the poster – Answers to the Questions I Know You are Asking. The first answer was a simple one - 50,000 bulbs. The second answer - One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and very little brain. The third answer – Began in 1958. There it was, The Daffodil Principle. For Amanda, that moment was life-changing. A woman she had never met, more than forty years before, had begun - one bulb at a time - to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. One bulb at a time, year after year, she had created something of magnificence, beauty and inspiration – forever changing the world in which she lived. Tears filled her eyes. "What might I have accomplished", she murmured, if I had thought of something wonderful 40 years ago and worked away at it all these years? What might I have been able to accomplish?" Carolyn smiled and reached over to flip the poster. On the opposite side were two words – the mystery lady's answer to Amanda's last question. START TOMORROW! The Daffodil Principle is one of the greatest secrets of life. It is about learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time – often just one baby step at a time. It is about learning to love the doing, and learning to use the accumulation of time. It is about knowing that when we choose to multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, that we, too, can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world! Forget the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a cause for celebration instead of a reason for regret is to ask, "How can I put this to use today?" THEN DO IT!!
It Took a Mother…
Ben Carson was just another kid trying to survive. Raised by a single mom in the Detroit ghettos he had a terrible temper and an even worse self-esteem. He was labeled the "stupidest kid in the 5th grade" and no one held much hope for his future. How then did this angry boy become the renowned Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery of the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland as well as one of the world's top brain surgeons? His mother. Today's story is not about Ben Carson, though we'll talk about him more another time. This story is about Sonya Carson – the woman who created greatness in her son. Sonya Carson grew up in harsher circumstances than her son. Abandoned when she was just a child (one of 24 children), she was raised in abusive foster homes. She longed for love, safety and a sense of belonging. She only made it through the 3rd grade before she had to leave school. Whatever dreams she had were being crushed by a world of poverty and abuse. She was only 13 years old when 28 year-old Robert Carson married her. Robert treated the beautiful little girl like a beloved "china doll". Sonya believed she had found everything she had looked for during her lonely childhood. It all changed when she had children. Suddenly her devoted husband was rarely at home, and she had to endure whispered conversations on the phone when he did show up. Her life plummeted back into poverty and neglect. She took it until her two boys were 8 and 10, then she found the courage to leave her husband and move to Boston. Life was better only because she was on her own. She had the freedom to create the life she wanted. But how? Leaning on a strong faith she struggled for ways to make life better for her sons – often working 2-3 jobs just to provide food and housing. Yet she knew it would take more than that to help her boys live up to their potential – to break from the cycle of poverty. She decided to take radical action to change things for Ben and Curtis by setting "house rules". Her boys could only watch TV for 2 hours a week. They had to go to the library, then pick out – and read – two books every week. To earn their
privilege of TV time they had to give her a written report of the books they read. Both boys resisted but they did it. They didn't find out until much later that Sonya, with her 3rd grade education, couldn't even read the reports. Her course of action paid off. Ben, in particular, changed as he realized he was not really stupid. The day he answered a question in class that no one else could answer – all because he had learned it from one of the books Sonya forced him to read – gave him a voracious appetite for knowledge. Suddenly he was devouring books – learning everything he could. He realized he held his future in his hands. He took that understanding and applied himself until he became one of the world's top brain surgeons. He freely admits he owes his success to his mother, Sonya. He's right. Yes, of course had to apply himself, but it was Sonya who gave him the desire to do so. It was her actions that convinced him he could be anything he wanted to be. Somehow this amazing woman rose above all the terrible circumstances of her own life in order to create a better understanding and a better life for her boys. Yes, the circumstances of her life changed as both her boys became successful men – Curtis an engineer, and Ben, a doctor. But ask her what her greatest success is… "Helping my boys reach their fullest potential." Sonya Carson changed her life. She changed her son's lives. And because of them she has changed the world. Now that's what I call success! Every single one of us has challenges to overcome, circumstances to rise above. Whether we do or not is completely up to us. Sonya could have chosen to wallow in the cycle of abuse and poverty. She chose something different. What about you? Make today a great one!
McDonald's Guinea Pig
Back in 1971 Lee Dunham's friends told him he was crazy. He was giving up a secure job as a police officer and investing his life savings in the risky restaurant business in the crime-ridden community of New York City's Harlem. As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, Lee collected milk bottles and turned them in for the deposits while his friends played ball in empty neighborhood lots. He also had his own shoeshine stand and delivered groceries and newspapers. He frequently told his mother that he was going to have his own business one day so she would never have to wash other people's clothing for a living. She told him it would never happen. The years passed but Lee's determination never waned. After high school he joined the Air Force and his dream of owning his own business began to take shape. He enrolled in the Air Force's food service school and soon found himself promoted to the officers' dining hall. After leaving the Air Force, Lee worked in several restaurants, including the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Longing to start his own restaurant, Lee attended business school and took night classes while working as a police officer. For 15 years Lee worked full-time for the police force, and in his offhours worked as a carpenter while finishing business school. He saved every penny he earned as a police officer. His life revolved around work, study and his life-long dream of owning his own business. By 1971, Lee had saved $42,000 and the time had come to make his vision become reality. Lee's goal was to open an upscale restaurant in Brooklyn, but every bank refused him financing. He then turned to franchising and filled out numerous applications. McDonald's offered him a franchise with one condition -- he had to set up in the inner-city. McDonald's wanted to see if its type of fast-food restaurant could be successful in a community like Harlem. Lee agreed. The first few months were a disaster with gang fights and other violent incidents plaguing his restaurant and scaring away the customers. Employees stole his food and cash, and his safe was broken into on a regular basis.
Instead of giving up, Lee toughened up his resolve and let the neighborhood gangs know his restaurant was not their turf. And he went one step further. Knowing these young people were fighting the same sense of hopelessness his family and childhood friends had known, he did the unthinkable -- he challenged the gang members to rebuild their lives and he hired them as employees. Lee stressed two things to the young people: his restaurant offered them a way out of their dead-end life, and the faster and more efficiently they served the customers, the more lucrative their way out would be. Lee got involved with community athletics and offered scholarships to get kids off the streets and into community centers and schools. His Harlem McDonald's restaurant became the company's most profitable franchise worldwide, earning more than $1.5 million a year. Today Lee Dunham owns nine restaurants and employs 435 people. And he has paved the way for thousands of African-Americans willing to work hard like he did to make their dreams a reality. Dreams are on the way to becoming reality when you take the first step to make them happen. Don't listen to the critics around you -listen to your heart, embrace your passion, help others along the way and you'll make your dreams happen.
"All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM "YES"! ~Nike Ad
His Own Success
Life was different back in the 1800's. Charles Tiffany was only 15 when he completed his formal education and went to work managing a general store for his father who owned a Connecticut cotton mill. He worked long, hard hours – learning new things every day. Over the next 10 years he was given some additional education, as well as working in the office of the cotton mill, but by the time he was 25 he still had nothing to call his own – and very little money. It was time to change his life – time to create his own success. I can imagine the conversation he had with his friend, and new partner, John Young. "We're going to New York!" "To do what?" John asked warily. "We're going to open our very own stationery & notions store on Broadway!" By now John was looking at him like he'd lost his mind… "With what money?" "I've talked my father into loaning us $1000." "$1000! That's all? How are we supposed to start a new business and have money to live on with just $1000?" Charles had the perfect answer. "It's either that or be stuck here for the rest of our lives." The two young men went to New York… It was 1837. The first three days of business in their new store on Broadway were certainly not promising. Tiffany & Young raked in a dismal $4.38 in sales. No matter. With their sights set on success, the young men worked hard to provide products people wanted. Within two years they were selling glassware, cutlery, porcelain, clocks and jewelry. They had also learned a tremendous amount. They knew to search for every opportunity. They knew to take advantage of ways to expand
their business. They knew each year would bring new challenges and opportunities. But Charles still had no idea what they would become. In 1841 they added a new partner because they needed someone to travel abroad to increase their purchasing power. Six years later they recognized a growing market for quality gold jewelry and began to manufacture their own. Just one year later, in 1847, Europe was rocked by disturbances. One of the results was diamonds declining 50% in Paris. They took advantage of the situation to purchase huge amounts – gaining huge profits back in America. 4 years later they began the manufacture of sterling silver ware. All the while they were moving into bigger and better storefronts. The Civil War became another opportunity for them. They supported the raging war by manufacturing swords and other articles the Union army needed. In 1867 they moved into the famous store still on Broadway – Tiffany's. The young man who had left Connecticut to open a stationery store became the owner of a $2 Million dollar business (the equivalent of a multi-billion dollar business now) that was acknowledged as the greatest jewelry company in North America. There are so many "Success Secrets" to learn from Charles Tiffany. The one that stands out most to me is the knowledge that your original dream may be just a shadow of its true potential. Tiffany never dreamed of being the greatest jewelry company in North America. He simply moved toward every opportunity – keeping his mind and heart open to every possibility What is your dream? Follow it. Take the steps to bring it to reality. But don't let your own ability to dream limit you. Give the dream room to grow. Give it every opportunity to become more. Take advantage of your lessons learned and continue to forge ahead.
Young George Ruth was a true "wild child". His parents, too busy running their tavern, basically ignored their son. To cover his unhappiness, George took advantage of every opportunity to cause trouble. He stole, skipped school, chewed tobacco, and drank whiskey – all before he was 7 years old. It was the police who finally got the parents to pay attention to their son. Their response to the problem was to place their son in a reformatory/orphanage – and rarely saw him again. George, unable to adapt to the strict regulations of St. Mary's Industrial School for boys, was quickly classified as incorrigible. It was probably the nicest thing they could say. Until… one man saw promise within the boy and introduced him to the game of baseball. Whether you're a baseball fan or not – everyone knows the name Babe Ruth. The very name draws up the image of homeruns. When you learn more about him the name also conjures images of drinking bouts, devoured hot dogs, partying and carousing. Babe Ruth never gave up his wild ways; he simply found a way to channel some of them doing what he loved to do – play baseball. He actually began his march to fame as a pitcher – setting many records for his prowess on the mound with the Boston Red Sox. His famed pitching, and impressive hitting wasn't enough though… the Boston Red Sox owner, needing money to finance his dreams of Broadway, sold the Babe to the New York Yankees. It was another in a long line of rejections the Babe had experienced. He could have let his bitterness stop his life and halt his drive to success and fame. He made a different choice. He kept playing. He kept swinging. He kept doing what he loved. He played baseball. His ability to hit homeruns exploded. He became famous. He created homerun records that stood for decades. He smiled, laughed, lived life to the fullest – and he kept on swinging. Here's the thing most people don't talk about. While it's true he hit more homeruns than anyone else; it's also true that he struck out more times than anyone. He only hit a homerun, on average, every
11 times at bat. He failed more times than he succeeded. Did you get that? He failed more times than he succeeded! Yet he went on to become an American icon; loved by millions; a household name. Why? Because he chose to keep swinging! A strike out. A walk. A single. They were all necessary to get him to the next homerun. He kept swinging. As I have studied the lives of successful people I have seen this truth. Most have failed more times then they have succeeded. Yet they choose to keep swinging until they finally connect with the right thing; the right business; the right relationship; the right way to do something. They learn from every failure and jump right back into the game. Have you failed at something? More than one something? Great! Stay in the game. Keep swinging. You'll finally connect. You'll find that right thing; you'll meet that right person; you'll discover the right way. The only way you can fail is if you put the bat down and choose to stop swinging. It's your choice to decide to keep swinging. Make it for yourself today!
There's an old saying you might recognize that says, if you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you've got. Are you satisfied with what you've got? Are you where you want to be? Is what you're doing in life fulfilling? Do you wake up and look forward to the day? If you answered "no" to these questions, you might want to take a serious look at what you're doing, because if the saying is correct -you're going to stay right where you are and everything will remain the same (or get worse). Life is not about reaching a constant, but rather constantly reaching. If we aren't reaching, growing and changing, we're standing still or falling backwards. Consider athletes. They are constantly reaching for victory. However, they don't become victorious by just thinking about it, planning for it, talking about it, or merely envisioning it. They do all these things in addition to working hard; they must train. If they aren't training they aren't winning. They don't win by just trying -- they win by conditioning their muscles, training their thinking, and honing their skills. If they aren't doing these things off the field (or court), they'll fail when it comes time to compete against their opponent. So how are you reaching for your dreams? Are you doing something every day to move yourself forward? Even "baby steps" will get you where you want to go -- but you've got to stand up and start putting one foot in front of the other! It's consistently reaching for your goal every day that will bring you victory.
It's early in the morning and I have something I want to share with you. I've thought about this through the week, as well as lying in my bed this morning listening to the birds usher in the day as the sun lightened the horizon. Many years ago a movement swept through America. The call went out to all who had the courage and vision to "Head West". What a picture was drawn for them... The West is where you want to be. There is land for everyone - for the taking! Beautiful. Fertile. Opportunity for everyone. Don't miss your opportunity to be one of the first to stake your claim! The call went out and hordes signed up to join the wagon trains pulling out of Independence, Missouri. As the pioneers bought supplies and lined up their wagons, their eyes shone with the excitement of what would be waiting at the end of the trail. I think it fair to say not one of them had a real understanding of what lay between Missouri and the far west they envisioned in their dreams. Can't you hear the conversation....? "Why, honey," one confident husband says to his rather nervous wife, "There isn't going to be anything to this. We've got a nice, sturdy wagon. We're all together, and we have plenty of food. We're just going to roll along the trail for a while and soon we'll have everything we've dreamed of. Just think of it!" I don't know how long before the starry looks faded from their eyes somewhere between broken wagon wheels and Indian attacks. Maybe it was the weevils in the flour, or the snowstorm that left them stranded in the mountains for months on end. Perhaps it was losing a child to illness because there were not enough medical supplies, or simply the fatigue that came from fighting dust, heat and long days of the grueling cruelness of the trail. Every pioneer who started down the trail, if they didn't die, had one of three things happen. Some gave up and turned back. Others decided they couldn't take any more and simply built a house where they stopped. Then there were the others... the ones who made it all the way to the West.
Yes, somewhere along the way the starry look faded from their eyes...... faded.... to be replaced by determination. Broken wagon wheels; Indian attacks; weevils; snowstorms; death; fatigue; choking dust and long days. They all became daily obstacles to be endured and overcome, but at some point each person who made it simply decided nothing was going to stop them. They had left behind their former lives to go someplace new. They were going… ________________________________________ So what about you? Do you have a dream? Do you have something you've started, but then turned back because it seemed so hard? Or maybe you're still on the trail, wondering which obstacle will be the one to destroy what you've worked so hard for. Maybe you're just looking at the trail, thinking, "No way. Not me. That just looks too hard." Yet your heart yearns to go where the trail will take you. You have a choice to make every single day. You can stay right where you are, or you can go on an adventure to accomplish what you dream of accomplishing. Not going may seem safer, but the truth is that not going will only assure you stay right where you are in your life. What do you want? Where do you want to go? The only way to get there is to start your journey – then determine to not let anything stop you. You can do it!
The Art of Service
I recently read about one of the famous Roman aqueducts at Segovia, Spain -- one of the greatest surviving monuments of Roman engineering. It was built around 109 A.D. and covers a little over 11 miles running from Segovia to the Frio River at the edges of Sierra de Guardarrama. The section where the 88 impressive arches are divided into two levels, measures about .6 of a mile long and a little over 100 feet high. It is made of 20,400 huge rough hand-hewn granite blocks joined without mortar or clamps. And for eighteen hundred years this aqueduct carried cool water from the mountains to the hot, thirsty city. Nearly 60 generations of people in Segovia drank and used that cool refreshing water. Around 1884 it's said the idea was espoused that the aqueduct was so great a marvel that it ought to be preserved. And so it was decided it would no longer be used for the purpose it had served for nearly 2000 years. The water was diverted from the aqueduct to modern iron pipes. The intention was to give the ancient artifact a rest and increase its longevity. In reality it began to deteriorate more quickly as it was no longer serving its purpose. This story contains a principle that applies to life. Whether in your personal life, your family life or your business, when you stop serving others, things begin to slowly fall apart -- just like the great Roman aqueduct. When family members ignore their responsibilities to one another, the family begins to deteriorate. The same occurs in business -- service to others is paramount. We are innately designed to serve others. When we focus on preserving ourselves and ignoring the needs of others, when we live as though life is all about us, we find our lives are miserable and we slowly self-destruct. And we often take those whom we love "down" with us. But reversing that -- putting others first and serving them changes everything. Try it -- you'll like the difference!
From Problem to Solution
Okay, females… it is time to lift your voices high and yell thank you to Ida Rosenthal. Of course I know you've never heard of her. It doesn't mean you don't owe her a huge yell of gratitude. And if you're male you owe her just as large a debt of gratitude because Ida helps keep women happy every day! Let me give you a quick history lesson. How many of you know that women used to wear corsets? They were designed to hold the bosom and upper half of the female body, encasing it in a shield of steel rods. All I can say is that I'm glad I didn't live back then! Anyway, on with your history lesson… When World War I broke out our military really needed steel. Women were asked to take off their corsets to conserve steel. Some 28,000 tons was diverted, enough to build an entire battleship! When women gave up their corsets they opted for the "Flapper Look", wrapping their chest in bandeaux to make themselves flat-chested. Ida Rosenthal to the rescue.... Ida had come as a young woman to America from Russia – following her boyfriend whom she later married. The buxom immigrant hated the new fashion. "Why fight nature?" she asked. Not only did she ask the question – she had the means to provide the answer. An avid Women's Rights Activist she had long ago turned up her nose to the idea of working for someone else. Instead she bought a Singer sewing machine on the installment plan and began her own seamstress business. In 1921, by the time women were "wrapping their breasts," Ida had started her own dress shop in Manhattan. Ida thought women could look better in their dresses and set about to do something about it. She and her husband designed a built-in bandeaux with cups that separated and supported the breasts. They were an instant hit. Customers were soon demanding them separately. Ida registered the name Maiden Form and hired a salesman. Word of mouth created booming success from women all over the country who were eager to leave the "Flapper Look" behind. 3 years later she quit
making dresses to focus on her hot new product. Sales boomed. They survived the Great Depression. Business kept right on growing. Ida's husband designed the bras, but Ida was the management and marketing genius behind their success. She bought ads, negotiated with Unions and introduced assembly-line production. She pushed the boundaries by running "racy ads featuring photographs of women in bras. Ida Rosenthal proved female executives could succeed, at a time when working women rarely got further than factory worker or secretary. The bras she helped create liberated women with comfort, freedom and sensuality. Do you see now why you owe her a huge debt of gratitude? She is also a shining light of what can be accomplished if you keep your eyes open, recognize a need, and set about to do something about it! I don't care how long you are alive. I don't care how advanced society becomes. I don't care how many inventions are invented. There are always problems to solve; solutions to be presented; easier ways to do things. You just have to believe it. You just have to keep your eyes open for the opportunity that ignites your passion and purpose. Then… you just have to DO IT! Ida, though long dead, is cheering you on. She fought for all women for all people - to have the right to accomplish the same kind of things she did.
Has anyone tried to steal your dream? Has this ever happened to you - you've just shared a fantastic idea or goal with a family member or best friend and their immediate reaction is -- "that's crazy." Two words spoken and all of a sudden your excitement comes crashing down around you and your idea, dream or goal lays at your feet in a thousand pieces. Have you let others de-rail or limit you? Instead of following your dream, working on your idea or mapping out how to reach your goal, you've let someone else's opinion rob you. There are multitudes of people who were told they "couldn't do that" or "wouldn't succeed" but have ignored such comments and gone on to become wildly successful. Evelyn Grennie had a passion for music but by the age of twelve was profoundly deaf. She wanted to be a percussion soloist but was told she couldn't do it. She ignored what others said (including her doctor) and became the first full-time solo percussionist. She plays in her stocking feet and can tell the pitch of a note by the vibrations she feels through her body and through her imagination. She says: "I have been a soloist for over ten years because I decided early on that just because my doctor made a diagnosis that I was profoundly deaf, it didn't mean that my passion couldn't be actualized. I would encourage people to not allow themselves to be defined or limited by others. Follow your passion; follow your heart. They will lead you to the place you want to go." The next time someone tells you "that's crazy" just smile and ignore them. Follow your dreams -- no one can steal them unless you let them!
Do you ever get discouraged? Dumb question, right? Okay -- so when you DO get discouraged, what do you do? Let me share a quick synopsis of a story I just read about perseverance. Have you ever heard of Maxcy Filer? Probably not -- I hadn't. Maxcy Filer was married with two young sons when he decided to become an attorney. He'd been inspired by two attorneys who were making positive changes in the laws of his community and he wanted to be part of that change. Maxcy was 36 years old. So he went to law school, graduated, and took the bar exam. Like many others before him he failed on the first try. So Maxcy took it again. Well, he continued to take it throughout his sons' undergraduate schooling. And he continued to take it while they attended and graduated from law school. And yes, he continued to take it after he was working for his sons as a law clerk in their offices! Finally, after 25 years and 47 attempts, Maxcy Filer passed the bar exam at the age of 61. While most people were retiring, he began living his dream. So, I'll ask again, what do you do when you get discouraged? I hope the next time you face discouragement, you'll remember Maxcy Filer. "Keep on keepin' on" and you'll come out on the other side -- which is success!
A Perfect Example
Many times it is our young people that challenge and teach us. Mark is a perfect example… 14 year old Mark Haley was already a basketball star. He had broken every scoring record at his school and was on his way to becoming a legend. That was before… …before the accident. He was with 4 of his friends – heading into town for a night at the movies. They were all laughing and talking when the car hit an icy patch, spun out of control, and slammed into the guardrail. Mark was catapulted from the rear window. When the state patrol arrived, Mark was sitting on the side of the road, staring at a torrent of blood gushing from his right thigh. His right leg, severed through by a guardrail cable, was just five feet away. Surgery saved his life but it couldn't save his leg. Mark's first words were, "What about my basketball career?" He already had big plans for playing college ball, then becoming a pro. The doctors exchanged looks but didn't have an answer for him. When he found out his coach and team were in the waiting room he sent a message. "Tell Coach I'll be back next year." No one dared defy him but only his parents believed he had a chance to do it. Mark knew from the beginning that his attitude was everything. "I'm not going to feel sorry for myself. I don't really see where that can help." And, "Instead of being bitter and angry, I'm just going to be positive." When he sensed pity from people, his response was always the same. "Don't feel bad for me. I'll be just fine." Then he set out to prove it. When he returned home his life was physical therapy and tutoring to keep up with his school work. He pushed himself in therapy, ignoring the pain and driving hard to regain his strength and balance. One afternoon, when no one was home, he hobbled out back to the basketball court. He put down his crutches, started hopping on one leg, and began to shoot hoops. Within seconds he lost his balance and crashed to the asphalt. He picked himself up and started again. 15 minutes later he was exhausted, but not defeated.
I guess this is going to take a little longer than I thought… 4 months after the accident he got his first prosthesis. He thought it would make things easier. In fact, it was harder. He drove himself to learn how to walk with his prosthetic leg, then shoot the basketball, then run. His doctors suspected it would be at least a year before he would even walk comfortably with his new leg. They didn't know Mark. I'm going to have to work even harder. I just can't give up. Slowly he got better but whenever he tried to push himself on the basketball court, he usually just crashed to the ground. The thought came to him that maybe he just couldn't do it, but he just as quickly pushed it down. He just had to work harder. He began a daily regimen of shooting, dribbling and weight lifting. The effort left huge blisters on his leg from the prosthesis but he ignored it and pushed on – buoyed by the knowledge he was making progress. What was a little pain? That fall, against all odds, Mark Haley made the basketball team. And he made it, secure in the knowledge he had earned it. No one had worked harder than he had during tryouts. The whole team cheered when he was elected team captain. His first game started out as a disaster. He was jerky and awkward, shooting off balance, and throwing up air balls. His rhythm was totally off. The coach called him out for a breather, then put him back in with just a few minutes left in the half. Come on, Mark. This is what you've worked for. Show them you can do it! Seconds later he worked himself free, received a pass, and put up a long 3-pointer. The stands erupted. Then he drove to the basket, pulled down a rebound, and muscled it back up to the board, scoring again. Mark was back. Mark chose to turn what could have been a disaster into a victory. He determined to be positive and to do whatever it took to accomplish his
goals. He went on to play high school basketball and tennis. He is now a college basketball coach. No one on his team ever makes excuses – they wouldn't dare. Not a one of them has to play with one leg. Everyone has limitations. Everyone has problems. Everyone has things in their life that stand as obstacles to reaching their dreams. The ones who succeed are the ones who decide to. Who decide to not let anything stop them. Who decide to do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true. I believe you can do it!
"Studies indicate that the one quality all successful people have is persistence. They're willing to spend more time accomplishing a task and to persevere in the face of many difficult odds. There's a very positive relationship between people's ability to accomplish any task and the time they're willing to spend on it." ~Dr. Joyce Brothers
Living With Passion
A friend of mine recently told me that for the first time in her life she's really happy. I didn't have to ask why because she could hardly wait to tell me. Previously she'd received her sense of worth and happiness from others. She'd lived her life trying to please everyone else, and when she found that was impossible she'd decided to "take it out on the world." She put it this way, "I had a chip on each shoulder and could hardly wait for someone to try to knock one off." She was miserable and basically made everyone else miserable, too. What changed? Well, it seems she discovered something that fanned the tiny ember of her self-worth. That ember was nearly dead when she discovered something she could be passionate about. Instead of being selfabsorbed, now she has a purpose that doesn't depend on another person. It is a new revelation for her. It is the first time she has experienced positive energy, optimism and really likes who she is. She had been one of those of whom Cynthia Kersey of the Unstoppable Foundations writes: ". . . you can choose to be like too many others who trudge through life in a state of endurance, missing most of what they experience. Such people observe life but don't experience its pleasure. If life were a symphony, they would hear the notes, but miss the genius behind the composition. If life were a rare gem, they would see the color, but pay no attention to the intricacies of the cut." Are you just trudging through life? Are you moving from crisis to crisis and can't figure out why everyone and everything seems to be against you? My guess is you are living your life without passion. I suspect that at one time in your life you were passionate about something (not someone). What is it that makes you perk up? What lifts your energy level? What quickens your pulse and grabs your attention? Maybe it's time for you to do some soul-searching and rediscover your passion. Like my friend, once you find it you'll start looking forward to
each new day. The sky will look bluer and the flowers more vibrant. Your energy will return as will your zest for life. Go ahead -- get passionate again. Life is as much about the journey as the destination!
"Many persons have a wrong idea about what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose." ~Helen Keller
No Secrets to Success
Here's the first thing you need to know as you strive toward accomplishing your goals and dreams. There are NO SECRETS TO SUCCESS! Webster's Dictionary defines a secret as something kept from public knowledge; something mysterious that is beyond general knowledge or understanding. If that were true then it would mean success is only possible for those few who have access to the great mysterious secrets of success. Nonsense! You are, of course, asking me, "Well, why did you call this Daily Secrets for Success"? Simple. People believe there are hidden secrets that will propel them to success. I decided to draw you in with a belief you already hold, and then let you have it with the truth! There are no secrets. There are truths, lessons, insights and actions you can take to get you where you want to be. They're not hidden, but neither are they dancing in front of you as you walk through life. You have to WANT to know them. You have to LOOK for them. You have to DO something with them once you know them. Do you ever wonder what your life is going to be like in 1 year; 5 years; 10 years; 20 years; longer…? Of course you do. Everyone does. As we begin this journey together there is a very basic truth you need to hear, and hopefully accept. Your life will be whatever you decide to make it. You've got a choice to make. Today. And every other day of your life. Let me clue you into another secret of life. Where you are in your life today is a direct consequence of every decision you have ever made. Ouch. I know. It was pretty tough on me when I had to face this truth. I didn't like some of what I saw – other things I felt pretty good about. I figure we might as well get this out of the way right at the
beginning. I have discovered it is best to face the reality of where you are starting from before you begin a journey. It's the only way you can know how far you have to go – or how far you have come. So go ahead… take a few minutes (or longer) to think about these two secrets. You may discover the same kind of freedom I did. While it was tough to accept I am ultimately responsible for whatever the condition of my life is right now – there is also incredible freedom in knowing I have the power to make it anything I want it to be. Wow! I get so tired of people complaining about their lives. Complaining they can't do certain things because they're just not smart enough. Complaining they will never excel in anything because they just don't have the talent others do. Complaining they will never make much money because no one else they know does. It goes on and on… I hear it all the time. People selling themselves short because they simply don't believe life will be exciting for them – they don't believe their dreams will ever come true. As long as they believe that – it will be true for them. Okay, did you hear that? This is another so-called secret of life. If they believe it, it will be true for them. I didn't say it was true. I simply said it was true for them because they have decided to believe it. That MAKES it true for them. Too bad! Especially because the opposite is equally true. If you choose to believe in your ability to excel; to succeed; to make your dreams come true – then you will. Your decision to believe it makes it TRUE FOR YOU! Today is a day you can use to change your life. Change the way you think about things. Decide to believe your entire life is going to be an exciting adventure. Decide to believe you will be a success. Decide to believe today is going to be better than yesterday. Decide and it will be TRUE FOR YOU.
Everyone "knows" the wildly successful Oprah Winfrey -- but do you know about her early years? Oprah was fired as a TV reporter because she broke the "cardinal rule" of journalism -- remain objective. Oprah started crying while interviewing a woman who had lost seven children in a fire. That show of sympathy cost Oprah her job. At age 22 and a new anchorperson she was sitting around a table with men in suits when they suggested she change her name to Suzie. They counseled that it was a "friendlier" and more easily remembered name than Oprah. Oprah rejected their suggestion and decided to stay true to herself. She knew she was different and liked it that way. So she worked hard to launch her own media career by creating a talk show with heart and a helping hand to people in need. The Oprah Winfrey Show was born. Today Oprah is a one-woman media empire worth billions of dollars. If Oprah had listened to the "professionals" and followed their advice, I wonder if we'd even know who she is today. But because she rejected the "tested formula" of journalism and built upon her uniqueness, millions of people around the world have been touched and helped because of her. Each of us is unique, with special gifts and talents. If others recommend you make changes, honestly consider if such changes would diminish who you really are. Some changes might be for the good -- others might cause you to compromise your uniqueness. And your uniqueness might just be what the world is waiting for!
"Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it." ~Oprah Winfrey
How much courage does it take to follow your passion? Ask Bethany Hamilton. . . Bethany, who lives in Hawaii, was in grade school when she started her quest to become a professional surfboarder. Surfing was her passion. She spent every available minute in the water, even homeschooling so she would have more time to pursue her goal. When she was 8 years old she entered her first major competition eventually taking the division championships that year. This girl obviously had what it took. It was almost all taken away from her on Halloween morning, 2003, when Bethany was 13 years old. She was surfing with her best friend, Alana, and Alana's brother and father. The waters were calm, not good for surfing, so Bethany was just lying on her board, her left arm dangling in the cool water. She remembers a flash of gray, a lot of pressure, and a couple fast tugs. She also remembers watching the jaws of a 15-foot tiger shark cover the top of her board and her left arm. She watched in shock as the water around her turned bright red. The shark was gone as fast as it appeared. So was her arm - bitten off almost to the armpit. Bethany was horrified but not in pain at that point. She called to her friends and their father, Holt. "I just got attacked by a shark." It was a combination of miracles that saved Bethany at that point. High tide allowed them to make it over the reef without going around. Holt knew enough to wrap his shirt around the wound to act as a tourniquet while they paddled the quarter-mile to shore. While Bethany drifted in and out of consciousness, a nearby vacationer who was a paramedic rushed to help her. Surgery saved her life but her arm was gone for good, and everyone, Bethany included, thought her surfing days were over. Within a week, spurred by her passion for surfing, Bethany decided to think something different. She wasn't ready to give up what she loved so much, but it would take time for her body to heal.
There was a huge outpouring of love and support from Hawaiians and people all over the world. Love, food, flowers, cards, money… Bethany gathered hope and courage from the waves of love aimed toward her. A few weeks later - the morning before Thanksgiving - Bethany headed back for the water. Her family and friends were there to cheer her on when she stepped into the warm water for the first time since the attack. It was like coming home. She failed at her first attempts to ride the board, struggling to push herself up with one arm and keep her balance. She was afraid her dream would die in the water that day - the shark victorious after all. She pushed down her fears, gritted her teeth, and just keep trying. Tears rolled down her face, and the crowds cheered when she caught her first wave and rode it in. Bethany was back! Really back. Only months after her vicious incident, Bethany amazed thousands by achieving the unimaginable, including taking 5th at the 2004 National Scholastic Surfing Association Nationals Championships. In September she struck again, winning the Open Women's Division of the NSSA's Hawaiian conference season opener. After her placing in the finals of the National Surfing Championships Bethany has secured a spot on USA's National Surfing Team. Ask Bethany if she is afraid of sharks and she'll say yes. Her heart pounds when she sees a shadow in the water. She has nightmares. But she also has a dream, and moving beyond her fears is the only way to accomplish her dreams - the only way to fulfill the passion she has for surfing. So, is there a fear keeping you from following your passion? I would encourage you to do what Bethany has done. Stare it in the face, acknowledge you are afraid, then go out and do it anyway!! Your success is up to YOU!
Persistence and Patience
On occasion I'll play a game on my computer called Mah Jong. You may know it. It's a simple matching game. You can play it "mindlessly" by making matches as you see them and not care about winning or scoring. Or you can play it strategically to try to match all the tiles and win the game. I like to play a game until I clear all tiles from the board (make all the matches). But there was one game with 288 tiles that I just could not complete. I was determined to play this particular game until I could match all the tiles. I play the game infrequently, but I finally cleared the board! It took me nearly a year and 187 tries until I finally did it! Pretty pathetic, huh? Why would anyone in his or her right mind play a stupid, meaningless computer game 187 times over a 12 month period? Good question! For me, it was the challenge of completing something I'd started. I decided I was going to play that game until I won. It didn't matter how long it took or how many times I had to play it. And when I finally removed the last two tiles from the board, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction and jubilation. My perseverance had paid off. Reflecting on that "silliness" I realized that I'm often not as patient or persistent in things that really matter! How often have I quit at something because I couldn't accomplish it the first few tries? How many opportunities have I lost because I wasn't willing to keep at something long enough? How many people have I hurt or let down because I wasn't willing to listen or try to understand just a little bit longer? Persistence and patience are traits that belong in all areas of life -- not just in games or "fun" tests of endurance. I hope you'll take a minute or two and evaluate how you're doing in these areas. And if you're like me, maybe you'll find that you need to practice perseverance in the important areas of life! Just think -- if everyone decided to do it -- we could make a real difference in our world.
Knowing Your Purpose
During the next year you are going to meet a lot of incredible people (kids and adults) who simply refused to be denied what they wanted. They all have one thing in common – they all were clear on their purpose. Purpose. So many people struggle to know what theirs is. Purpose is the why – why you are here. It's knowing what your special calling in life is. Your purpose is what makes you unique – the special gifts and abilities you were born with, and can contribute to the world. Young or old – it can be tough to know what your purpose is. But it may be the most important thing you discover about yourself. I believe your lasting happiness depends on it. Knowing your purpose will fuel your efforts and give you the drive to keep pressing on, no matter the challenges you face. Here's a thought to wrap your brain around: Everyone dies, but not everyone really lives. Too many people flounder through life – waiting, hoping that the moment will come when their purpose becomes clear. In the meantime, they are simply going through the motions of living, never experiencing the exciting spark of aliveness that comes from knowing your purpose. What about you? Do you know why you're here? Do you wake up every day, excited about your life? If your answer is "No", don't be discouraged. You're not alone. I believe you can change your answer to a resounding "YES!" Finding your purpose is a process requiring self-reflection and patience. It seems unfair that you don't just KNOW why you are here, but life is not always fair (surprise, surprise!). Here's the first thing I want you to do. (Yes, as we travel through this year, I'll occasionally ask you to do something. Whether you do it is totally up to you! I'll make sure they are always little requests.) Pull out a sheet of paper and begin writing "How I Want to Be Remembered". Then add some columns: Friends; Spouse; Children; Co-Workers; Community; the World. If you go to church, belong to a team, or another special group, add them in.
Now. . . List all the qualities, deeds and characteristics you would like to be remembered for. When you have done that, go back. Find the pattern that shows you your highest values. Discover what drives you. Determine your purpose. People ask me, "Once I determine my purpose, does that mean I quit my job or whatever I'm doing to pursue that?" Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe your purpose is making a difference in children's lives. You could quit your job and work with kids full-time, or you could keep your job, make money, and bring a spark to your life, and others, by working with kids in your free time. I never tell people what I think they should do. Each person has to make their decisions about how they live their life. The important thing is to spend enough time with yourself to learn your purpose, then make your decisions around that knowledge. You really can find your purpose. How do I know? Because I have. So have countless other people who live each day with exuberance, vision, and focus. You'll have to do some work to join them. Are you willing? Great. Get to it!
Do you have pets? My family has a menagerie of pets and somehow I've inherited most of them. I currently have 3 dogs, 2 cats and a parakeet living in my small house. The largest pet is our Olde English Bulldogge (correct spelling -- not to be confused with an English Bulldog). Her name is Rusty. She weighs about 90 pounds and was born with severe hip dysplasia, which means she has almost no cushioning in her hip joints. Because of that she's in constant pain. A veterinarian who specializes in hip dysplasia recommended we put her to sleep when she was less than a year old. But we opted not to, figuring she'd let us know when the pain became too much for her. Six years later, we still have a very active bull dog! I marvel at Rusty. I know she is in extreme pain, but she insists on being part of the family. When I go upstairs she follows. When I walk the quarter mile to my gate she wants to join me. Most of the time she makes it half way, plops down and waits for my return. She loves to ride in the car and always heads for the door when she hears the car keys or the word "go." Rusty is my daily reminder of how strong love and the will to survive are. She never complains but thrives on kind words and the affection we give her. Whenever I catch myself entertaining thoughts of discouragement or self-pity, I look at Rusty and know I have no right to complain. My day -- my attitude -- will be what I choose to make it. And like Rusty, I choose happiness and contentment -- no matter the circumstance.
It Couldn't be Done
Everyone knew it couldn't be done. Roger Bannister had no real motivation to prove them wrong. The young Englishman loved to run but from the time he was a child he also had a passion to be a doctor. This was the passion that drove him. His parents were unable to afford a University education so it was up to him to make it happen. He knew early on that to achieve his dream of being a doctor he would have to be exceptional – so he set about being exceptional. His studies were paramount but that didn't mean he couldn't improve his track skills by running to and from school. While he was on his way to earning a scholarship from Oxford University, he was also gaining a name for himself as a runner. "It is physically impossible for a human being to run a mile in under 4 minutes." This statement was the accepted wisdom of the time during the late 1940's and early 1950's. Runners tried, but failed, proving the words of athletes and medical doctors – cementing a belief in runners’ minds that it couldn't be done. Roger didn't set out to prove them wrong. He simply loved to run and he was fast. He was also learning a lot about the human body in his studies at Oxford. The day arrived when he was firmly convinced it WAS possible for a human being to run the mile in under 4 minutes. His decision to be that person was formed by a humiliating defeat in the 1952 Olympics. In order to redeem himself he decided to break the world's record for the mile. No one believed he could do it. Adding to his challenge was the fact he was now a full-time Medical student and he could devote only 45 minutes a day to training. People scoffed at the idea he could accomplish such a wild goal but Roger believed slow and steady training would allow him to break the record. He painstakingly researched mechanical aspects of running, and developed scientific training methods to help him achieve his goal. His opportunity came 2 years later – on a blustery day with 25 MPH gusts of wind to hamper his efforts. It didn't look promising. So what? He had trained. He was ready. He believed it could be done.
So he simply went out and did it. Roger ran the race of his life, breaking the tape and collapsing as the announcer delivered his time to a wildly cheering crowd: 3:59.4 Roger had done it! The world's record had been broken. Everyone of his time had been proven wrong. Within two months his record had been broken by John Landy – proving the 4 minute mile was as much a psychological barrier as it was a physical barrier. As the years have passed the mile has been run in shorter and shorter times but it was Roger Bannister who proved the body was capable of far more than people believed. When he was asked to explain that first four-minute mile – and the art of record breaking – his answer was simple: "It's the ability to take more out of yourself than you've got." Did you get that? "It's the ability to take more out of yourself than you've got." How did Roger do it? First, he BELIEVED he could do it. He understood the size of his success would be determined by the size of his belief. Here is where I'm going to depart from some more common thoughts that are spread around a lot today. While belief is critically important – in fact, he couldn't have accomplished what he did without it - belief alone is not enough. It is not enough to repeat affirmations over and over to yourself, even though they are important. At some point you have to do the work. Roger Bannister ran day after day. He researched the human body. He created scientific methods to enable him to stretch his limits. He did what it would take to fulfill his dream. What are your goals? What is it you dream of accomplishing? BELIEVE it can be done. Then do the work. Apply yourself to success. Apply yourself to excellence. Figure out what it is going to take and then go DO IT! You may have no interest in breaking a world
record, but I know you have an interest in being the best you that you can be – or you wouldn't be reading all these letters. Give yourself the ability to take more out of yourself than you've got!
"If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. ~Michael Jordan
Talkers and Doers
Take a deep breath and determine if you are ready for a challenge and some soul searching. If you aren't, don't read today's email. If you're going to read this, then read through to the end. As I grow older, and as I watch people, I have learned there are two basic types. There are talkers. And there are doers. Lots of people are talkers. They tell you all about what they are "going to do". They have big plans and good intentions, but all they do is talk. They're always going to do it tomorrow. They're always going to do it later. They're always "going to do it." Sound like anyone you know? Then there are the doers. They might not talk about it at all - they just go do it, then tell you about it when it's done. Regardless, they DO IT. If they say they are going to do something they do it. No matter who you are – man, woman, teenager… the results of your whole life will depend on what you DO, not what you "talk about"! Would you like to guess which group of people is going to be the ones that experience success in life? Success in whatever they decide to do? You're right. The DOERS! I learned a long time ago that important things take tremendous work and perseverance. I also learned the closer you get to the realization of that goal, the greater and more intense the obstacles become. It's as if the Universe is testing you to see how much you want it. One of my favorite people is A.L. Williams. Years ago he went against the tide of standard thinking and began a revolution in Life Insurance. People told him it couldn't be done. They said there was no way a country speaking football coach from Georgia could turn the Insurance Industry upside down. He listened, then went and did it anyway. I am going to steal a concept he used during one of his tapes I listened to. Since I'm a good southern girl I'm going to "speak my language." Be honest enough to acknowledge if you hear yourself in this.
Folks, I've heard it all. I've listened to so many people tell me what they are going to do. I'm going to make more sales. I'm going to get a promotion by working hard. I'm going to start my own business. I'm going to make better grades. I'm going to volunteer and make a difference in my community. I'm going to… But.. I just got to do a few things. Just as soon as things calm down at work, I'm gonna go do it. Just as soon as I get things together at home, I'm gonna go do it. Just as soon as I get my desk clean and organized I'm gonna do it. Just as soon as I learn some more things, I'm gonna do it. Just as soon as I have some more money I'm gonna do it. Really! I'm gonna do it. As soon as I get smarter. As soon as I get braver. As soon as I have more time. As soon as I get focused. Then I'm going to do it. Folks, you're gonna spend the rest of your life getting ready. You're going to spend the rest of your life TALKING about what you're gonna do. There's only one remedy. You got to go DO IT. Just go DO IT. Don't tell me about what you're going to do. Just go do it. What are you going to do? Whatever it takes to accomplish your goals. Whatever it takes to create the kind of life you want. Just do it. And if you do it, and do it, and do it…. you'll be exactly what you want to be. All your dreams will come true. Doggone it folks. You just got to quit TALKING about what you're going to do. You got to go DO IT. AND DO IT. AND DO IT. AND DO IT. JUST DO IT!! I want you to stop what you're doing and think for a few minutes - or as long as it takes. Then I want you to write yourself a letter. Make a commitment to yourself of what you are going to DO. Make a list of your goals and put them where you'll see them. Here's something that will really determine if you are a talker or a Doer. Write your letter, then ask a friend to mail it to you in 2-3 months. You can put it in a self-addressed, stamped envelope they will merely slip in the mail. You'll be able to see for yourself whether you are a talker or a DOER. Choose today to be a DOER!
A Box of Chocolates
Has this ever happened to you? I had my day all planned. It was going to be such a fruitful day. I woke up early, raring to go. With a cup of coffee in hand I dialed the first number on my "To Do" list. Success! However, that first call ended up rearranging the rest of my day. My "To Do" list ended up a total wash. Why? Because that first call was to a plumber and my schedule took the backseat to his. So there I was, sitting and waiting. My phone line needed to be clear for his call. And the place where I had to meet him didn't have Internet access. I was basically "dead in the water" as far as my original plans for the day. Even though I'd been brought to a screeching halt, I realized I now had some unexpected quiet time to write. This undesired and unscheduled stop also provided me time for reflection. That "problem" actually turned into an opportunity. Instead of fussing, fuming and complaining, I chose to take full advantage of my new situation and actually accomplished a great deal. I hope you'll do the same thing the next time you find yourself in a similar situation. Like Forest Gump said, "Life's like a box of chocolates; you never know which one you'll get." And just think, if all of us made the best of every situation, what a difference we'd make in this world!
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