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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Golden Rule x 12

  The Golden Rule is the foundation for moral decency in every culture. The way we treat each other matters. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Judeo-Christian – Leviticus 19:18   “Don’t go around hurting people, and try to understand things.” Native American – in Hopi Culture, the Spider Grandmother gave two rules.   “One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.” African – Yoruba Proverb   In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.” Jainism – Lord Mahavir 24th Tirthankara   “The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form.” Shinto   “What would you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose upon others.” Greek Philosopher – Epictetus   “One should seek for others the happiness
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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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Do You Possess Neotony?

I was recently introduced to the word Neotony.  It was in context of the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon searching for the Fountain of Youth, said to cure the effects of aging for those lucky enough to drink of it’s waters. Business has it’s own fountain of youth, neotony. Neotony refers to childlike qualities retained in adulthood, qualities like love, creativity and curiosity. These are all qualities that are essential to influential leaders.  Leaders who love generate support from their people.  Leaders who are creative bring better ideas in better ways.  Leaders who are curious have limitless potential for growth. So how do leaders retain, or in some cases regain, these childlike qualities? – Love is built through serving your people – Creativity is built as we develop the habit of studying and constantly learning – Curiosity is built by learning to eliminate bias, question everything, and avoid routine Neotony is an amazing attribute that
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Are You Investing In People?

A few weeks ago we took the kids to Universal Studios in California. They were over the moon about Harry Potter World. They wore their house robes, carried a wand from Olivander’s Wand Shop, drank butter beer and performed spells throughout Hogsmead. It was magical. As we ventured out the rest of the park we quickly found the Minnions ride. As we waited a worker named Derek talked to us about our day. He asked where we had been and he told us about all the other rides we needed to do before we left the park. After the Minnions rode we were surprised to see Derek waiting for is with front of the line passes for all the rides we had talked about! Derek invested in us. He went above and beyond. He didn’t just do what was in his job description- he invested. He surprised us. He made
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