What Is Your Contribution?

My father-in-law Dennis White is a master gardener. It is a hobby that he has taken and made into a real craft. Every week, he cuts a bouquet from his beautiful flower garden to take to church to display on the pulpit. It is his contribution, his way to use his talent for the benefit of others. It’s been said that we can’t all contribute in a grand way, but we can all contribute in our own way. If we take our strengths, our talents, what sets us apart and use them for the good of others, then we are making a grand contribution. My friend Jason Hewlett describes this as finding your signature move and he has helped me to realize that it is vital that we share them with the world. I loved this observation from Jason, “The secret is this: Share them. Don’t hide them! If you
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10 Tips for Being Nonjudgmental

We are all judgmental.  It’s just human nature.  Even though it’s in our nature to judge, it’s not always helpful and often turns into a hindrance. There is a definite difference between making judgments and being judgmental. Being judgmental can keep us from building relationships, harm those relationships we already have and keep us isolated.  As Walt Whitman said “Be curious, not judgmental”. These 10 tips for being nonjudgmental from Sheri Van Dijk can help make the distinction. Remember that being nonjudgmental isn’t about turning a positive into a negative; it’s about being neutral, neither positive nor negative.. Reducing your negative judgments will reduce your level of anger and other painful emotions. Keep in mind that judging is like adding fuel to the fire of your emotion; it only increases your painful emotions. You can often reduce a behavior just by counting how often you’re engaging in that behavior. If you get overwhelmed
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Authenticity Gives You Power

My friend, Sandra Joseph, is a big time Broadway star.  She played the part of Christine Daae in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway for nearly a decade.  She is an incredible actress with an even more incredible voice, but what I think I love most is her story. Sandra was a struggling actress in New York City when she was given the opportunity to try out for the part of Christine.  She went into the audition so nervous that her mouth became dry and her lips stuck to her teeth.  Not exactly the best way to make a good impression.  She was offered a part in the chorus but not the lead. A few years later, she was given the opportunity to audition again.  This time she wasn’t going to let her nerves get to her, but she overcompensated and really over did it.  She was not offered any
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101 Ways to Relieve Stress

We all have stress. Too much, or prolonged stress in not healthy. It often leads to both behavioral and physical ailments. You first must be conscious of your stress level, then make a concerted effort to deal with it. Add some of these to your defense mechanism against stress – you’ll be happier for it!   Get up 15 minutes earlier Prepare for morning the night before Avoid tight fitting clothes Set appointments ahead Don’t rely on memory Write it down Practice preventative maintenance Make duplicate keys Say “no” more often Set priorities Avoid negative people Use time wisely Simplify meal times Always make copies of important papers Anticipate your needs Repair things that don’t work properly Ask for help with the jobs you dislike Break large tasks into bite-size portions Look at problems as challenges Un-clutter your life Smile Be prepared for rain Tickle a baby Pet a friendly
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One of The Pitfalls of Success

After hours, weeks and years of hard work, it is amazing when that hard work starts to pay off and you start to see success and your goals coming to fruition.  But so many fall into a similar trap as they begin to experience some success: a lack of humility.  These words from Wynton Marsalis, the Pulitzer-prize winning musician and composer, serve as a necessary reminder when you begin to experience success: “You can tell when someone is truly humble, because they consistently observe and listen, the humble improve. They don’t assume, ‘I know the way.’ Humility engenders learning because it beats back the arrogance that puts blinders on. It leaves you open for truths to reveal themselves.”   You can be at the top of your field, the most successful person in the room, the all star, but arrogance never looks good on anyone.  There is a great danger
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Plus, Minus and Equal

The four-time undefeated MMA champion now MMA trainer, Frank Shamrock, has developed a system for training would-be fighters. I’m not a huge MMA fan – but I think there is a lot of merit to his system. The system is called “+, -, =”. Shamrock’s theory is that in order to be the best, you need to work with someone better than you, someone equal to you and someone whom you can teach.  Shamrock believes this builds the best fighters.   We certainly don’t have to be an MMA fighter to benefit from this system. The same can be applied to us in any scenario. Training with someone better than us pushes us past our limits and helps us see greater possibilities. Training with our equal tests our skills and in the process they become a peer, allow us to create cooperation, shared learning and has a mastermind effect. Teaching allows
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Dream Big (But It’s Not What You Think)

The other day my friend Sandra Joseph, the amazingly talented Broadway star, quoted the poet and philosopher Mark Nepo. Nepo said “Often your dreams don’t come true but as we give our all in pursuit of our dreams sometimes we come true.” As children, we are taught to dream big and to go for our dreams. The reality of it is not everyone can become the professional athlete, the CEO or the Broadway star, but the fact is the growth we find in pursuit of the dream is more valuable than the actual dream. The hard work, the setbacks and triumphs, and the journey make us the person we are. We may not become the “best in the world”, but we certainly can become the best version of ourselves as we strive to be the “best in the world.” When we pursue our dreams, go the extra mile, put in
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The Most Important Questions Can’t Be Answered With Numbers

I recently listened to a great speaker named Jason Kotecki and he made a great point that the most important questions can’t be answered with numbers. Look at the questions we normally ask: How much money do you make? How many Facebook friends do you have? How many square feet make up your home?  What is it worth? What titles do you have or awards have you won? How many degrees have you earned?  How many letters are after your name?  How many hours do you work?  How big is your office?  How expensive is your car?  What is your kids’ GPA?  How many extracurricular activities are they involved in? How much money does that cost you?  What about the tuition?  How many boards do you serve on? What do they have in common? All can be answered with a number. But the most important questions cannot be easily quantified
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There Is No Substitute For Hard Work

When I was 8 years old, my brother (age 10) and I started a paper route. We had to get up everyday of the year, with no exceptions, at 5 am and deliver around 100 newspapers. Rain, snow, and exhaustion didn’t matter – the papers had to be delivered. So we did it everyday for four years. Having this responsibility at a young age taught me how to work hard, be consistent and follow through even when I didn’t feel like it. My Mom recently sent me this letter she found from one of our customers and it reminded me how much learning how to work hard with a paper route has served me throughout my life. Learning how to work is an invaluable lesson to learn.  I’ve been able to take the lessons I learned from that paper route and apply them to everything I’ve endeavored to do. It
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Am I A Good Listener?

Steven Ash, “The Career Doctor” developed this listening test. It is a great way to see where you rate as a listener. Good luck! Give yourself 4 points if the answer to the following questions is Always; three points for Usually; two points for Rarely; and one point for Never.   __ Do I allow the speaker to finish without interrupting? __ Do I listen “between the lines”; that is for the subtext? __ When writing a message, do I listen for and set down the key facts and phrases? __ Do I repeat what the person just said to clarify the meaning? __ Do I avoid getting hostile and/or agitated when I disagree with the speaker? __ Do I tune out distractions when listening? __Do I make an effort to seem interested in what the other person is saying?   Scoring 26 or higher – You are an excellent
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