Morning Coffee Archives

Morning Coffee Archives

Thank you for visiting! We hope you enjoy our growing archive of Morning Coffee inspirational stories.

10/16/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don't."

~ Gloria Steinem

OPPOSITES DETRACT!

Don't you just love the irony of today's quote? Steinem implies that simply separating people into two categories is too simplistic, but at the same time, she uses that very same technique to convey her meaning!

Learning what something is by defining what it is not has been an age-long practice in education. It's hard to understand light without knowing darkness. How could we appreciate quiet without suffering through loud and constant noise?

While dichotomies or contradictions help us in our understanding, it's very dangerous to define everything we experience in this way, that it's simply one way or the other. Is every declaration either true or false? If so, what do you make of the next two sentences?

The following statement is true. The preceding statement is false!

Okay, all philosophical joking aside, it's easier to categorize the world into "is" and "is not," but we also realize that there are "shades of grey" between the black and the white. If we always expect people to act in just one of two ways, we're in for some nasty surprises.

This world cannot be divided into two kinds of people, no matter how simply you look at it. Can we say that if you make war, you must hate peace? Or that if you love peace, you must not make war? This isn't politicizing - it's a simple observation that we all have within us the capacity for understanding and appreciating not both sides of a situation, but ALL sides.

By avoiding generalizations that reduce everything said or done into good or bad, we open ourselves up to varieties of interpretation that allow us to make truly educated decisions. Sure, it's more complicated and challenging that way, but it keeps us from morphing into the very stereotypes we’re trying to avoid. Vive la difference!

10/9/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Men are disturbed not by things that happen, but by their opinions of the things that happen."

~ Epictetus

NO FEAR!

A well-known motivational speaker once said, "No one knows enough to be a pessimist." He also quoted statistics showing that a very high percentage of the things we worry about are either A) things that never happen, or B) things over which we have no control anyway. His point? Not only do we not have enough information to justify our worries, we also are virtually unable to alter the outcome of most situations.

Our worst fears are generally of the unknown (not enough information). Our imagination runs wild, conjuring up worst-case scenarios. We become fearful, anxious, and even overwhelmed - yet the source of our fear is non-existent (except in our minds). Consider these oft-quoted phrases:

"Think you can - think you can't - either way you're right." "As a man thinketh, so is he." "Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they're yours."

In other words, by your thoughts alone, you control the outcome. Although there exist many risks to our peace-of-mind during uncertain times, we still have the ability to pursue our very best hopes and dreams. We may find that their achievement requires more effort than usual. Doubt may creep in. Nevertheless, as you have heard many times, "It's all in your head."

10/3/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next."

~ Abraham Lincoln

TEACH VALUES 101!

What do children and government have in common? That depends on which classroom you visit. If you have children and are actively involved in their lives, you are likely to encounter a classroom filled with intelligent, interested, involved and respectful children.

Unfortunately, many teachers today will tell you that's not what they are seeing. In some 1st & 2nd grade settings, children fall asleep because they spent the night in the family car while mom or dad sold drugs. Others are antagonistic and disrespectful, traits also learned from other family members. Still others are raised in a "no rules" family, where parents simply abdicate their parental responsibilities.

Many parents still take their responsibilities seriously. In fact, there appears to be a resurgence of young parents who teach their children the values of honesty, integrity, and service to others. It's about time. If you're one of them, I applaud your commitment to making the world a better place.

There has also been a dearth of honesty, respect and morality over the past 30 years or so. Children brought up during that time often experienced the negative effects of a no rules society. Today those same individuals are beginning to lead companies and be elected to office, yet we are surprised that company CEO's and elected officials could ever lie and mislead as they have been exposed to do recently.

As the children of today's classrooms are disposed to believe and behave, so will they as the adults of tomorrow's generation. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, you can make a difference for the next generation of leaders. Take time to encourage, nurture, and teach the children in your family. Sometimes, a single comment or gesture can give a child the impetus to become great.

9/25/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

~ Unattributed

FALL FORWARD!

With the arrival of the fall season, life’s pace picks up a bit. With the dog days of summer behind us, we look toward the seasonal shifts in business and the approaching holidays. Our “To Do” lists start to get longer, and our enthusiasm sometimes wanes.

So as the days get shorter, how do we increase our productivity? The short answer is “a little bit at a time.” Specifically, just fifteen minutes at a time, according to REALTOR Magazine “Sales Coach” John D. Mayfield.

The argument is simple: you get more done by organizing your day into small chunks of time, instead of devoting three hour blocks to a project. It’s only when we’ve fallen too far behind that we force ourselves to spend so much time and effort on an unfinished task. Then we burn out and can’t seem to get anything done at all.

Take something as routine and unexciting as catching up on phone calls or email messages. Put it off all week, and suddenly you’ve got thirty calls to return and ninety messages in your Inbox. But just fifteen minutes a day spent on each of these two tasks adds up to two and half hours of quality work during the week. Extend that concept to other things like exercise and reading, both of which improve the rest of your day and your labor.

Devoting fifteen minutes isn’t difficult, and once you’ve begun, you might find yourself working even longer. Maybe you’ll feel that the project at hand isn’t so overwhelming after all, and once it’s behind you, you’ll feel renewed enthusiasm for the next item on the “To Do” list.

Ultimately, just remember that fifteen minutes a day is better than nothing at all, and in one hour you can begin to attack up to four different responsibilities. John Mayfield reminds us of the old Chinese proverb: “A minute of time is an inch of gold.” Invest just a few minutes and discover your reward!

Posted 9/18/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"We're not out to change the world, just the way you talk to it."

~ from a Vonage television commercial

"The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate."

~ Joseph Priestly

TALK IS CHEAP!

How ironic that today’s “inspiration” comes from a marketing campaign for a communications company. It’s touted that technology saves you time and helps you to communicate better. But isn’t it more apparent that technology now leaves us with so little time that we barely have occasion to properly interact with others?

Anything that “saves time” is simply making more time that you can then devote to some other pursuit. Dishwashers and clothes dryers were supposed to be modern time- and effort-reducing marvels, but did people just sit around and relax after the cleaning was done? No, because all the “extra time” created by technology has only served to increase the hectic pace of our lives, allowing us to do more and more in less and less time.

What about cell phones and email? Promoted as easy and inexpensive ways to communicate, they have ultimately diminished the personal aspect of communication. Ever gotten a phone call from someone who was killing time in line at the grocery store, or even worse, in traffic? Critical for emergencies and conducting business, cell phones otherwise give us an excuse for quick calls on the run, before the battery dies or the signal drops out (or another calls beeps in).

Email is another beast altogether, having reduced our language skills to nothing more than “emoticons” and run-on sentences without capitalization. Email has replaced the answering machine as the new way to ignore communication. The sender feels good because at least they made an effort to get in touch, but the recipient is in the privileged position of responding whenever they wish.

Ideally, we would all be able to sit down at home with undivided attention and give someone an hour of quality time on the phone. Or perhaps sit down with pen and paper and actually handwrite a personal letter to a friend or relative who lives at some distance. But really, who has the time?

Posted 9/11/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"A penny saved is a penny earned."

~ Ben Franklin

WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?

Waiting for your ship to come in? Think you need to win the lottery to become a millionaire? Waiting for your inheritance to come through? Dream on - but don't hold your breath. The truth is that "steady as she goes" is the watchword for accumulating real wealth. In baseball terms, the method would be to hit plenty of "singles" and "doubles" and forget about the "home runs."

Consider this method for becoming a millionaire: At age 25, begin setting aside just $100 each month. Invest the money at 12% - yes that is do-able! At age 65, you would have accumulated $1,176,477. In other words, if you never increased the $100 per month, regardless of all the raises and increases in income you experienced over your lifetime, you would have over $1,000,000 in your investment account.

Now let's say you received a very modest $1,000 per year increase in pay over your 40 year working life. By putting aside an additional $250 each year (just 25% of your yearly raise), an additional $191,772 would be added to your million-plus nest egg.

Better yet, here's the easiest method. Beginning at age 20, put $2,000 per year into an IRA for just three years. Never add another nickel to the account. At age 65, the account would be worth $1,153,180.

What if you're already 45 years old (the average age at which Americans begin saving)? You would need to put aside $1,100 each month for 20 years at 12% - giving you $1,187,106 at age 65.

Financial security requires patience, persistence, and self-discipline (sort of like real-life). Spend less than you earn, and put the rest to work for you. It's a simple formula that few ever attempt, yet it yields unfailing results!

Posted 9/5/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur."

~ Vince Lombardi

WINNING ISN'T EVERYTHING!

Good old Vince Lombardi - always a great source for motivating words! Success on the football field was the result of the spirit he had and developed within himself, not the other way around! Sometimes we have a tendency to put the cart before the horse, thinking that we become better people through achieving success. What an egocentric and near-sighted notion! We really achieve success by becoming better people!

Achieving your goals is like finally arriving at your destination after a long journey. How many times have you heard that it's not the destination that's so important - it's the steps that you take along the path? It's not so much what you do, but how you do it. Regardless of success or failure, it's your efforts that are remembered and define who you are.

Even the most menial jobs and tasks can be elevated simply by caring enough about doing them well. You can learn to respect any job when it is performed by someone who respects himself. Again, it is not the "events that occur" so much as it is the "will to excel" that impresses us. We shouldn't worry so much about getting a better job so much as simply doing our job better!

It's also that "will to win" that drives us to keep trying, even when we do not achieve our goals. As long as you have that drive and ambition, you WILL succeed! As a matter of fact, you've already succeeded right there. Big or small, you have dreams, you have goals, and you have the spirit and confidence to carry you. Along the way, chances are that you'll also inspire others with the will to succeed. That's what gains the respect of your colleagues. It's not what rung of the ladder you're on, it's that you simply have the will to climb.

Successes can be fleeting, but the will to succeed is timeless. What will you be remembered for?

Posted 8/28/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Men stumble over pebbles, never over mountains."

~ Emilie Cady

"Sometimes the littlest things in life are the hardest to take. You can sit on a mountain more comfortably than on a tack."

~ Anonymous

GREAT AND SMALL!

We see Big Things and Little Things, using a filter called Perspective. While our personal Perspective is useful in analyzing situations and actions in a meaningful way, it has the potential to be a detriment, denying us alternative and refreshing outlooks and solutions.

Sometimes we get confused about What Is Important. All our lives we are programmed with a Perspective that tells us what we believe is the best course of action. We’re told that we should focus on achieving Big Things, especially in highly competitive professions and fields. But how exactly are we supposed to reach the Top Of The Mountain if we cannot even clear the pebbles along the way? And what happens if you reach the mountaintop and you find that it’s lonely and that there’s nowhere else to go?

We either pay too much attention to the little things and get tripped up along the way, OR we don’t pay enough attention to the little things and get tripped up along the way! We focus so hard on reaching the mountain top that we forget how important it is to do the Small Stuff well.

Becoming accomplished at the Small Stuff will eventually change your perspective so you’ll appreciate how truly important your achievements are. Suddenly, there are no more mountains and no more pebbles. You assail each problem and task with the same enthusiasm, effort, and success. Your perspective has changed, and you realize that you better pay attention to the Small Stuff, because really, it’s ALL Small Stuff.

Charles Simmons summarized it perfectly: "Life is made up of little things. It is very rarely that an occasion is offered for doing a great deal at once. True greatness consists in being great in little things." Here’s to a job well done!

Posted 8/21/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"I wish people who have trouble communicating would just shut up."

~ Tom Lehrer

SIGNAL-TO-NOISE!

Much has already been written here about the modern notion of doing more and more in less and less time. This is somehow supposed to improve our lives, when we often simply end up fragmented and shell-shocked.

Hand-in-hand with the idea of doing more is communicating more. But because of email, cell phones and the like, we are expected to communicate more in less time, and in less space, and ultimately, in less words. Cell phone "texting" is surely the beginning of the end of written language as we know and understand it.

It's easy to lose sight of the fact that "communication" is not so much about the number of things we say, but how much is actually understood. Think back on instructors and speakers from whom you've enjoyed learning. There is probably at least one thing they all had in common: they spoke slowly, deliberately, and with focus.

Of course, successfully communicating a single thought can actually be quite a challenge. Often, it's just easier to spit out whatever comes into our heads and quickly hit the "send" button before we have to put any more thought into it. Oscar Wilde once slyly wrote to a friend, "I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn't have the time." Think about it!

Like trying to write a haiku verse, it can be difficult to distill our thoughts and ideas into a few carefully selected words that truly convey our meaning. But once we abandon such an effort, our communication just becomes so much "static." Be warned, there's a scientific definition coming: "Signal-to-noise ratio" - the power ratio between a signal (meaningful information) and the background noise. Ideally, our signals stand way out from our noise!

So the next time you are preparing to write or speak about a topic, take the time to choose your words carefully and judiciously, and deliver them in a deliberate manner. Remember that, regardless of what you are conveying, people perceive speakers who talk more slowly as actually being more knowledgeable than those who speak more quickly. And on that note, this column has gone on long enough!

Posted 8/14/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: "Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time." When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, "The one I feed the most."

HAS THE DOG BEEN FED?

When was the last time you had a vivid, golly-gee-wow, gotta-do-it-now type of dream - a dream that made you come alive at the very thought of it? Did you put a plan in motion to achieve that dream?

OK - forget about the dream for a moment. What about the rest of your life? Do you know where you're going and which principles you've adopted to get you there?

Sometimes dreams and plans fail to mature into reality by neglect. The good dog isn't fed properly, becomes weak and tentative, and eventually loses out to the mean dog - the one that is all too happy to fill our life with meaningless trivia.

The good dog we're discussing here is your personal constitution, that quiet inner voice that directs your life in the right direction. It's the part of you that thrives on hope, knowledge, service to others, perseverance, honesty, commitment and many other worthy principles. It's the "you" that knows you can make the world a better place for all, and sets out to accomplish the task.

The mean dog thrives on fear, deceit, worry, irresponsibility, and ignorance. This ugly dog can flourish and take over by simply filling the void left when the good dog is too weak to eat. Surely you've seen this dog face-to-face. He sometimes appears as a "friend" who douses your latest brainstorm with cold water, or encourages you to shade the truth a bit to make the deal work.

So how do you feed and encourage the good dog? Inspiration and knowledge are excellent ingredients to build strong hopes and sound dreams. Inspiration is available in many forms ranging from personal relationships with those we admire and trust to biographies of others who have succeeded in spite of the odds. Incidentally, you can easily starve the mean dog by avoiding negative relationships altogether.

Increased knowledge builds skill levels and ultimately confidence and self-esteem. It is difficult to feel vulnerable and defensive when you have all the facts. Knowledge combined with inspiration strengthens principles already adopted, and may introduce you to new ones. Remember, the mean dog thrives on ignorance and fear, both of which can rob your constitution blind.

Posted 8/7/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out." ~ Anton Chekhov
 
IMPROVING THE DAILY GRIND!
 
Conventional Wisdom tells us that life’s most traumatic moments provide opportunity for personal growth and discovery. More often, however, it’s the mundane, everyday trials and tribulations that really push us to discover the scope of both our achievements and our patience.
 
We undervalue our daily functions, simply because we do them on such a regular basis. But consistently performing those “menial” jobs, and consistently performing them well, is the real gauge of accomplishment.
 
Just trying to prevent boredom is a real challenge. You have to be careful not to neglect the “small stuff” as you look ahead to bigger and more exciting things. You needn’t be in “crisis mode” all the time, but do be aware that even your most routine responsibilities are critically important. That’s why you have to do them so often!
 
If you’re becoming bored by your “day to day living,” then you need to “change things up.” You insult yourself with boredom – you have it within you to educate and entertain yourself, to fill your time with activities that develop your mind or your body.
 
This is why so many people actually fear retirement. They fear they’ll have nothing to do. They’ve spent so long on “autopilot” that they have trouble imagining new routines. But there’s always volunteerism, continuing education, recreational activities and hobbies, second careers, and more.
 
If your autopilot has taken command, imagine what you would suddenly try to do if you discovered you had one year to live.

Posted 7/31/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"If someone wrote a book about your life . . . would anyone want to read it?"

~ TV Recruiting Ad (U.S. Navy)

FICTION OR NON-FICTION?

Fast-forward your life 20, 30, even 40 years. Now . . . imagine someone writing a book of your life story. Think of the possibilities. Would it be motivational, a mystery perhaps, or even science fiction? What about reference, a novel, true crime, short story, or an expose? Would it be found in the children's section of the library, the reference section, or under biographies?

Wow - the possibilities are endless. The good news is - YOU are the lead character, and get to make all the choices! Close your eyes and visualize how it would read. Assume that the author is an unrelated third-party who knows every detail. That's a scary thought, isn't it?

If the chapters were written in chronological order, which ones would make the best reading? Undoubtedly, the ones from age 12-20 would provide some interesting material. From 20 to 40 would be excellent transitional chapters with lots of "Ah-ha!"s and course changes. The final chapter may be the most revealing, however. Think how many readers like to skip to the end to see how the book ends.

If you could skip to the end of your own book, how would it read? Summarizing the entire book, would you say it was a thriller, a shocker, a spell-binder, a tragedy, a romance, or an inspiration?

Your life is a book waiting to be written - write it well!

Posted 7/23/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it comes softly and sits on your shoulder."

~ Anonymous

DRAW YOUR OWN MAP!

Imagine you've planned the trip of your dreams - say from North Carolina to Colorado. You've charted all the roads, have a fist full of maps just in case, and have your priorities straight in your mind. You get started on a beautiful sunny day, and begin enjoying the ride.

Late in the day, as you approach the Mississippi River, you drive straight into a bank of heavy fog. You turn on your lights, but still cannot see 10 feet ahead. Just because the highway is out of sight doesn't mean you've lost your way. Continuing on the path you've set for yourself, you soon break out into the sunshine again - still headed in the direction of your dreams.

In perspective, consider that the trip represents your life's goal - your first priority. Steering your vehicle down the highway hour by hour represents your efforts to reach your goal. The fog bank illustrates the momentary interruptions and obstacles encountered on your journey.

As day #2 begins, you find that you've come to an unexpected intersection - one that's not on your map. Confused, you pull over and examine the map closely. Stay to the right and you'll end up in Colorado. Take a left and you may arrive at an unanticipated, yet equally wonderful destination.

OK, let's cut to the chase! Sometimes your priorities change, don't they? Just as you think your goal is in sight, a new opportunity arises. Remember the saying that "life is a journey - not a destination"? What's exciting is that YOU are in control of the steering wheel, and whatever destination you choose is OK - so long as it's YOU who has made the choice.

Happy motoring!

Posted 7/17/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you'll find you've done it."

~ George Bernard Shaw

"Before enlightenment - chopping wood, carrying water. After enlightenment - chopping wood, carrying water."

~ Buddha

FEELING STRESSED?

Oh - the frustration of it all. The first quote for today deals with the importance of having direction - goals - in your life. You know - we've all heard it for years - our life will be happier, more prosperous, more meaningful if we have a plan, know where we're going, and work systematically at getting there.

If you've tried to do that, you've undoubtedly met with a great deal of frustration along the way. It's like the expression "Life is what happens to you while you're planning other things." No matter how hard you work at your plan, there are those constant interruptions that get in the way, and make it seem so difficult. You are not alone.

As important as the first quote is, think about the second one. A modern paraphrase might go like this: "Before setting and achieving your goals, and having control over your life, your days are filled with trivia, interruptions, hassles, disappointments, family responsibilities, etc. After working your plan and achieving all your dreams and goals - your life is filled with trivia, interruptions, hassles, disappointments, family responsibilities, etc."

Taking control of your life can result in great personal satisfaction, provided you understand it does not bring you to perfection. Intertwined in our desire to achieve peace, success, and enlightenment, there is still plenty of wood to chop and water to carry. The day-to-day responsibilities of life do not disappear. We simply gain the strength to bear them more readily - and with a smile.

So - carry on with your plans and your dreams. They are vital to a great life. Yet remember the words of Jules Renard, who said, "There are moments when everything goes well; don't be frightened, it won't last."

Posted 7/10/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Men are disturbed not by things that happen, but by their opinions of the things that happen."

~ Epictetus (55-135)

LIGHTEN UP!

Ever feel yourself getting perturbed by something that happens during your day? Ever have the urge to say something about it, when silence might be the best approach? Perhaps you feel the need to make a judgment about each situation that arises.

Maybe it's time to slow down a bit. As the song says, "Don't worry - be happy!" The truth is - none of us have the right to judge others, nor their actions. We can control only one thing - our own actions. If there is something to be judged, it would be our reaction to things that happen, not the events themselves.

In Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits," Habit #5 says, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." In explaining, Covey states that "People do not see the world as it is; they see it as they are - or as they have been conditioned to be." He goes on to make the simple statement that "When you understand, you don't judge."

Once you take the time to understand each situation, there is no longer a need to judge. Interestingly, when others realize that you no longer make those judgments, you will find that they no longer judge you either.

Want to free yourself from being disturbed about the events of the day? Just follow the advice of Epictetus, who said, "When considering the future, remember that all situations unfold as they do regardless of how we feel about them. Our hopes and fears sway us, not events themselves."

Posted 6/26/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault."

~ John Henry Cardinal Newman

SELF PROMOTION!

Been chasing success? Have you caught it yet? Maybe you finally landed a big contract, got that promotion, or reached bonus level at work. Setting a goal and achieving it is gratifying, but it's not usually the end of the journey. Most of us tend to set yet another goal, and take off running again.

There's no such thing as taking one grand step and reaching the summit, even when that one step is the last of many already taken on the journey. If you are not satisfied with every small success, and are always looking towards the next achievement for your ultimate gratification, the likelihood is that you will never reach it.

What drives your need for the big listing or promotion or bonus will not leave you once you've gotten what you thought you wanted. You must take great care not to let your drive for more and more success belittle what you have accomplished so far. Ultimate success does not come with this or any future achievement. It's about the "whole package" or the "big picture."

Do you love what you do for a living? If you say yes, but find yourself constantly pushing for more fulfillment, you might need to reconsider that question. Loving what you do creates a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, regardless of your position on the ladder. If you're happy not to "keep up with the Joneses," or build mountains of wealth, you are to be congratulated on reaching your own form of nirvana.

Your sense of self-worth is not (nor should be) tied to any one positive or negative event. A happy and successful self is a combination of feelings and beliefs, based on experiences at home and at work. Remember that you are greater than the sum of your parts!

Posted 6/19/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking."

~ William James (1842-1910)

YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!

Walk into a totally dark room. What do you see? "Absolutely nothing," you say. Now, turn on the light. Where did the darkness go? Really - where is it now? Hopefully you will agree that darkness cannot exist in the face of light.

During a lifetime, we experience many types of "darkness." It may appear in the form of discouragement, fear, hopelessness, grief, ignorance, or poverty. Yet, in every case, there is a "light" in which such darkness cannot exist.

Fear, for example, cannot exist in the face of courage. Education denies ignorance any chance of survival. Grief disappears in the presence of peace-of-mind. Discouragement ceases when hope prevails. Wealth denies poverty its chance.

No matter what form darkness takes, it cannot exist when faced with its opposite. That also means we have the ability to send darkness on its way at any point in time. No matter how overwhelming the darkness appears, it is our thoughts and our minds that ultimately control the outcome. How powerful is that?

In the words of several favorite authors: "Think you can, think you can't, either way you're right." "Your life is what your thoughts make of it." "We are what we think about all day long." Finally, in the words of Tom Bodett, from one of his Motel 6 commercials: "We'll leave the light on for you!"

Posted 6/12/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Gardner's Law: Eighty-seven percent of all people in all professions are incompetent."

~ John Gardner

PERSONALITY TEST!

Let's hope today's "inspiration" isn't actually true, although we've all probably felt that way at one time or another. Regardless of the percentage, however, it cannot be denied that incompetence really does exist in every profession, even those like physicians, attorneys, school bus drivers and stock brokers.

Some people do a great job no matter what it is they do, while others can't seem to succeed even after trying several careers. Sometimes it's not really a matter of competence so much as matching a job to specific abilities, interests and personality. An introvert who enjoys working alone probably shouldn't pursue a career in communications, while a creative person who enjoys the outdoors likely wouldn't be happy in accounting. No matter how hard you try, you just can't force yourself to love brussels sprouts!

How much of the "incompetence" that we encounter is simply the result of a person who is mismatched for their job? We all have certain skills and personality traits that better suit certain types of careers, but we often start down that path before we've ever gotten to really develop and know ourselves. We believe our parents, guidance counselors, and spouses more than we do ourselves sometimes.

Realizing your true personality is challenging. Applying that knowledge to your choice of career is even more difficult, but absolutely necessary if you want to be happy in your choice. If you're feeling dissatisfied, try to find at least some small aspect of your job that you find enjoyable, and aggressively apply your personality to it to produce more satisfying results.

If that's not working for you, perhaps it's time to take a long hard look at where you've been and where you are and why you don't like it there. Matthew Arnold said, "Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery." You've probably learned a lot about other people in your lifetime. Aren't you ready to know yourself?

Posted 6/5/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Until one is committed there is hesitancy,

a chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative and creation,

there is one elementary truth,

the ignorance of which kills

countless dreams and splendid plans.

That the moment one definitely commits oneself,

then Providence moves too."

~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

THE RICH GET RICHER!

In "Rich Dad's Guide to Investing," the author talks about taking risks. As an example, "Rich Dad" says, "There is risk driving a car. But driving the car with your hands off the steering wheel is really risky." With regard to driving a car, his point is easily understood.

His real message, however, goes a little deeper. He's really speaking of the risks people associate with investing. While there are inherent risks in any investment (just as there are in driving to the grocery store), if you don't take control of the risks (as in keeping your hands on the wheel), the risks can quickly overwhelm you. Rich Dad goes on to say that, "It is not necessarily investing that is risky, it is the investor who is risky."

Whether you are investing in yourself, your business, real estate, or a stock portfolio, Rich Dad advises that you first gain control over yourself. This is accomplished in two steps: first by creating a written financial plan, and second through intensive study. Both make it possible to get a firm grip on your investment wheel. The written plan is your road map to successful investing, while study provides the knowledge level needed to invest wisely. Collectively, they put you in the driver's seat, giving you control over your investing direction.

If the idea of investing your way to wealth appeals to you, you must first commit to pay the price in time. You do not necessarily have to "have money to make money." Like any successful endeavor, however, you must be willing to invest your time, and we all realize just how valuable that can be!

Posted 5/30/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle."

~ Father James Keller (1900-1977)

GOT A LIGHT?

We all love a compliment. Your manager says to you, "I noticed that your last sale was handled very smoothly. Thanks for offering your customer such excellent service!" Your wife or husband tells you, "I'm so proud of the way you encourage our children!" Your grown child returns home for a visit and says, "Thanks for making it possible for me to get my degree!" Those are "feel good" times, aren't they?

If you live a more or less normal day-to-day sort of life, compliments are always welcome, but aren't absolutely critical to your sense of well-being. You don't have to get them to make it through the day. If you are fortunate enough to enjoy high self-esteem, why not consider becoming a "candle" to others?

There are many around us each day, both children and adults, who suffer from mild to extreme "compliment" deficiencies. They may have never been told that they are good, or attractive, or intelligent. As children, they may have never experienced the exhilaration of getting a base hit, or making an "A" on a test, or receiving an "Honorable Mention" in art class. As adults, they may have lost a job, a spouse, or their health. In short, many around us have never even had their "candle" lighted once.

You can become the greatest philanthropist of all time without giving away a dime. All it takes to make a life-changing difference in someone's life is to share the light from your candle. Each day, look for opportunities to encourage, compliment, or offer your knowledge to those who are "candle deprived." Think back to when you were a child. Was there some special person who took that time with you - someone you've never forgotten?

Sharing your candle by lighting many others can warm both hearts and souls. Make a difference - starting today!

Posted 5/22/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"First of all, you must find the right track, So you can start right away and not be held back. But which track is yours? Well, that all depends On which way it's going, and where it might end."

~ Craig Dorfman in "I Knew I Could!"

THINK YOU CAN?

Regardless of your age, you were probably introduced as a child to a wonderful book entitled "The Little Engine That Could." If you will recall, it was the story of a small red locomotive personality who believed it was possible to pull a very heavy load uphill - a task that was shunned by other larger locomotives. The little engine huffed and puffed up the hill, all the while repeating the mantra, "I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!"

It was a cute story that contained a very powerful message about persistence and the ability to overcome adversity. Now there's a sequel entitled "I Knew I Could!" A quick ten-minute read, it clearly outlines our ability to make our own choices in life. Using illustrations of train tracks and those cute little locomotives, you are easily led to the understanding that we choose the life "tracks" upon which we travel.

The book suggests that before picking one of those tracks, we should determine the direction it might take us, and the destination we might reach by so choosing. Sounds like real life, doesn't it? How many times, and in how many ways, must we be taught this lesson? If we fail to make our choices wisely, we have consciously made the choice to live at the mercy of happenstance - as did Alice in the following excerpt from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland":

"Cheshire-Puss...," said Alice, "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat. "I don't much care where -" said Alice. "Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat. "... so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

Life - it's your choice. Toot! Toot!

Posted 5/15/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"You will be what you will to be."

~ James Allen

START SOWING!

You say to yourself, "I think I'll go shopping," - and you do. You say, "I think I'll buy a new blu-ray," - and you do. You say, "I think I'll put it on my credit card," - and you do.

James Allen lived from 1864 until 1912. As was popular in the early 1900's, he wrote a series of short essays known as pamphlets. The best known, "As A Man Thinketh," was his most famous work. In it, he provided timeless inspiration on the value of thought as it motivates us to action.

In his pamphlet, Allen states that, "All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts." Speaking of mankind, he continues with, "They themselves are makers of themselves." Thought precedes all action; thus, he reasons that by controlling our thoughts, we also control our destiny.

Notice in the first paragraph above that the "I think" part always seems to lead to the action of "doing." Rarely do we hop in the car, drive aimlessly around, accidentally arrive at a music store, plunk down our credit card, and then say to ourself, "I think I'll go shopping."

If we are the sole controller of our thoughts, it stands to reason that we can also control our actions - and our outcomes in life. Our mind and our thoughts are the seedbed of our futures. What a novel thought. Plant some great thoughts in your mind. Do it today!

Posted 5/9/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet." ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

PREDICTION VS. PRODUCTION!

If you’re familiar with many “motivational” speakers and writers, you’ve probably heard or read a hundred times that you must make a “declaration.” It seems that without uttering your deepest desires, they will not come to fruition. Want a better job? Then you must declare that it will be so. Want a fitter body? First you must affirm you will have one.

But be aware of the definition of motivation, “the reason one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.” Just stating that something will happen is not enough – you must “act” or “behave” in a very specific fashion to make that dream come true.

Declarations comfort us, enthuse us, and even energize us, but only for a short period of time. After the initial emotional rush of acknowledging our desire to pursue something, our energy wanes, other issues become more pressing, and we lose sight of our goals. Unfortunately, when the outcome we visualized doesn’t happen, we feel disappointed and our self-esteem takes one on the chin.

The vicious circle completes itself when we make our next declaration, recalling previous shortfalls, and losing our enthusiasm even more quickly. We say, “Ah, these affirmations don’t work. Just saying it doesn’t make it true.” EUREKA!

Now you realize that success doesn’t come from motivational “tricks,” but from a profound effort to produce the desired outcome. Of course you must acknowledge (if only to yourself) what you want in this world, or you’ll just drift aimlessly. But be sure to follow through with a solid plan that anticipates plenty of detours.

Want a better job? Declare it will be so, and then start taking courses in that field, find a mentor, polish your resume, and apply for the positions for which you have qualified yourself. Want a fitter body? First affirm that you will have one, and then sign up for a fitness club membership, actually go to the club regularly, stock your shelves with healthy food, and eat less of it.

So, become a prophet of positivity! Go ahead, predict your future success! But make sure your prophecy is self-fulfilled!

Posted 5/1/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Fear knocked at the door, faith answered. No one was there."

~ Unattributed

REPLACEMENT THERAPY!

Ever received one of those emails that contains a touching message, then suggests that if you forward it to ten more people you'll receive a "special blessing" or "ten million dollars in three days"? It usually also warns that the last person who didn't forward it met some terrible fate at the hands of unknown evil-doers. Remember how that last part - the veiled threat - made you feel? You didn't think something awful would really happen, but you resented being put in the position of wondering.

We've been told many times that our worst fears are of the "unknown." An unidentified fear sends our imagination into high gear, conjuring up vivid mental pictures of dastardly plots against us. We ruminate endlessly over the possibilities. Such fear is disruptive to our well-being, and leaves us tired and wrung-out.

So, how do you handle fear? One method is to identify the fear, so that once you do, it is no longer "unknown." That also means it is measurable, and can be logically quantified. Once you know what it is, your imagination can no longer dream up worse things that it is not. Once identified, it is possible to determine possible outcomes.

Most fears will never come to fruition. Those that do are divided into two categories: those we can control, and those we can't. If we have control, we also have the ability to survive our fears, and change their outcomes. Most fall into that category.

One mother's lifelong advice to her daughter who worried too much was to replace the worry thought with another more pleasant thought. The opposite of fear is hope, which also gives us courage. The next time you experience fear of the unknown, try replacement therapy. Think positive, hopeful thoughts when fear knocks at the door. Then, when you open the door - no one is there!

Posted 4/24/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The moment of change is the only poem."

~ Adrienne Rich

SPRING FORWARD!

The beginning of Spring always seems like a good time to appreciate the changing of the seasons, and to ruminate on how the cycle of life continues. The shrubs and flowering plants are all green now, and we're just waiting to see those first beautiful blossoms that symbolize another cycle of death and rebirth.

Sooner than we know it, Spring will blend into Summer, which will likewise end, and then Fall, and finally Winter again. While we certainly look forward to Spring during the chill of Winter, it must be said that even during the Summer we sometimes find ourselves longing for a view through the leaf-barren trees and the first flakes of snow.

But we have to be careful not to look so far ahead that we're missing what's right in front of us! Don't wait to take an opportunity to watch the plants bloom and the hummingbirds return. Waiting until next Spring just won't do.

Ponder how the fluidity of the seasons gives us the chance to realize change in our own lives. It teaches us to learn to accept how everything changes, everything passes, and everything eventually returns. It reveals a spirituality that goes beyond, and yet includes, any religion. We begin to recognize and embrace these ever-changing yet never-changing cycles in nature and ourselves.

If you already abandoned your New Year's Resolutions a couple months ago, why not look at Spring as truly the ideal time to imagine changes you'd like to make? It seems to make more sense at this time of year anyhow, when everything is transforming and thriving and beginning anew, while Winter passes away behind us. And when Winter does come again, how will it find you different? Now is the "moment" to write the first line of your "poem of change."

4/17/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Never think that God's delays are God's denials."

~ Author Unknown

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE . . . !

A lone shipwreck survivor on an uninhabited island managed to build a crude hut in which he placed all that he had saved from the sinking ship. He prayed to God for deliverance, and anxiously scanned the horizon each day to hail any passing ship.

One day he was horrified to find his hut in flames. All that he had was gone. To the man's limited vision, it was the worst that could happen and he cursed God. Yet, the very next day a ship arrived. "We saw your smoke signal," the captain said.

Hmmm! Ever have a big sale fall through? Been disappointed when a friend or loved one failed to come through for you when you needed them? Have you wondered why a goal or objective wasn't achieved as expected?

If you're over the age of 18, you've probably noticed that we don't get everything we would like, exactly when we think we should. Yet, it's amazing how certain things just show up in our lives when we least expect to see them - like the rescue ship.

It is often said that we "shouldn't get too attached to outcomes." We can set objectives, believe they can be achieved, and work to make them happen, but it's best not to get too attached to the outcome. What appears to be a worthy goal may go down in flames, only to be replaced with a magnificent result we had not anticipated.

When you find your hut in flames and fear the worst, think back to this oft quoted reminder: "Fear knocked at the door - faith answered - no one was there!"

4/10/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Who exactly do you want to be? What kind of person do you want to be? What are your personal ideals? Whom do you admire? What are their special traits that you would make your own? It's time to stop being vague. If you wish to be an extraordinary person, if you wish to be wise, then you should explicitly identify the kind of person you aspire to become."

~ Epictetus

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO TODAY?

Microsoft uses that slogan to convince you that with their software you can head in any direction you please. Earl Nightingale, one of the great motivational speakers, said it better. "Imagine that you are the captain of a great ocean-going vessel," he suggests. "Before even leaving the harbor, you lay out plans for your voyage. Using maps, you choose a destination, then employ your navigational skills to arrive safely".

"Without a chosen destination and a map to help you arrive," he continues, "you are akin to a ship without a rudder. If you get out of the harbor at all, you'll probably end up a derelict on some deserted beach."

On this verge of the year 2017, I hope you've decided on a destination for the year and have looked carefully at the map that will take you there. A word of caution is in order. Be careful not to choose too many destinations, meaning don't set too many goals for the year. Including more than a handful of worthy objectives can leave you with maps and navigational instruments strewn all over your desk - resulting in chaos, lack of focus, and questionable navigation.

It's better to have four clearly defined targets for the year, accompanied by a masterful plan for their achievement, than to have only a list of 25 hoped-for achievements. Anthony Robbins suggests the following agenda for achieving your most worthy objectives.

First, write down a "dream inventory" - a list of everything you want to accomplish in 2017. Next choose the four most important major goals. For each of the four make a list of the benefits you will enjoy when you achieve them. Then list all the resources you currently possess which would be of benefit to achieving your major goals, i.e. experience, knowledge, skills, positive attitude, friendliness, perseverance, etc.

Continue by listing the three most successful times in your life. Under each, write down a description of how you felt and acted during those times, i.e. felt invincible, presented a professional image, smiled a lot, wasn't afraid to try a new approach, etc. Next write down the type of person you would have to be to achieve your goals, i.e. must be prepared for presentations, must always have confidence, must put others' needs first, must organize my time, etc. Follow this with a list of "What prevents me from achieving this right now." Write down your fears, your lack of action, etc.

Finally, write down the steps you must take to achieve each of the four major goals. This would be a list of each and every task that must be completed in order to produce the maximum results. By breaking down the objective into individual steps, it becomes more manageable.

Notice that achieving a major goal requires major planning. Have you already done your homework and feel completely prepared? Hopefully so. It's well worth the effort!

4/3/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Set your purse to fattening."

~ George S. Clason ("The Richest Man in Babylon")

RISE TO THE OCCASION!

In 1926, George Clason introduced a series of pamphlets on thrift and financial success which were widely distributed by banks and insurance companies. He used fables, set in ancient Babylon, to make his points. The most famous of them, "The Richest Man in Babylon," is familiar to millions.

In the story was a very rich man named Arkad. Arkad was generous with all and spent liberally, yet he grew wealthier with each passing year. A group of friends from his youth approached him, asking how he had amassed such wealth while they lived a lifestyle of mere subsistence. His answer was, "If you have not acquired more than a bare existence in the years since we were youths, it is because you have either failed to learn the laws that govern the building of wealth, or else you do not observe them." The pamphlet then goes on to explain the "Seven Cures For a Lean Purse."

So, who are you most like - Arkad . . . or his friends? If you know and practice Arkad's teachings, your primary obligation now is to teach your children, and their children. If you have not been so fortunate as to learn the "laws" and practice them, take heart. It is not too late.

In simple terms, "spend less than you earn" is the critical element that produces wealth. It also requires self-discipline, learned behavior, persistence, wisdom, knowledge, integrity, and more. But, hey, why rewrite the book here when you can just order the paperback online? It's an easy read packed with simple to follow steps to financial independence. If you're tired of the stress, worry, and frustration of never having enough, try giving this book a read!

Posted 3/20/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"You can either complain that rosebushes have thorns - or rejoice that thorn bushes have roses!"

~ Anonymous

WHICH BOUQUET DO YOU PREFER?

Whether or not you have a green thumb, you probably know that gardens may contain either annual or perennial flower varieties. Annuals are fun to grow for several reasons: 1) they sprout quickly from seeds, 2) they flower the first year, and 3) their colors can be brilliant and most pleasing. They are also less hardy and die out at the first sign of frost. Each spring, new seeds must be planted.

Perennials are another story. Growing from seeds, they take longer to sprout and rarely flower the first year. Their colors are more subtle hues, and they require more attention in the early stages. They must be cut back in the winter and covered with mulch, and may require fertilizer in the spring. They also come back year after year, returning with stronger roots, greater beauty and abundant growth. With time, they require less and less attention, yet continue to prosper. No matter how cold the winter, they always return with renewed vigor.

Friendships and business relationships are a lot like flowers, and may also be either annual or perennial in nature. They may be quick to bloom and most enjoyable to experience, yet fade quickly at the first hint of trouble.

Others grow more gradually through trust-building and respect. They may not dazzle the senses or leave us breathless, yet they are consistent, trusting, and produce a warm glow that hardly fades when tested by adversity. These relationships grow over time, and produce an abundance of lasting beauty.

In business, as in personal relationships, the best things in life come with time and caring. When planning your life's garden this spring, why not devote your attention to the perennials? With an added touch of patience, you can look forward to the sweet fragrances to come.

Posted 3/13/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't."
 
~ Unknown
 
IS IT ABOUT POLITICS OR . . . RELATIONSHIPS?
 
Have you ever lost out to another for an appointment to an important committee . . . or leadership post . . . or career promotion? If so, you may have commented (at least to yourself) that it was "politics" that deprived you of the opportunity.
 
So was it really politics, or were there relationships involved? Consider the difference. The term "politics" is often used to cast doubt on the values or principles employed to influence an outcome. Just using the word "politics" tends to excuse us for failing to win the approval we seek.
 
Now consider the power of relationships. If you were caught in a blinding snowstorm with two individuals - one a personal friend with extensive outdoor survival training, and the other a total stranger - which would you choose to lead you to safety? When the youth soccer league asks you to coach next season, whom would you choose for your assistant? Would it be a fellow professional associate, with whom you have worked successfully on various projects over the past ten years - or a total stranger?
 
What those on the outside (looking in) call "politics" is really no more than the power of existing relationships at work. We tend to feel more comfortable with those we know and trust. Trust and familiarity are built over an extended period, and once in place become bonds difficult to break.
 
To continue growing in your career, as well as your personal life, consider forming new relationships with those you feel are excellent role models. About our teenagers, we tend to say "You can tell how they're doing by the friends they keep." The same rule applies to us. Make time in your life to build enduring relationships. Your world will expand, your disappointments become few, and your friends become many.

 

Posted 3/6/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires great strength to decide on what to do."

~ Elbert Hubbard

THROW AWAY THE BAND-AIDS!

What do Scotch Tape, Post-It Notes, and paper clips have in common? Each apparently has a different function, is made of a different material, and serves its own purpose. Oh sure, you can say they're all office supplies - and you'd be right - but look a little deeper for their common purpose.

Scotch Tape pieces are placed along the edges and on the ends of holiday gifts - for a short period of time. Post-It Notes are stuck to documents suggesting that a signature is needed, or some action be taken. Once the action is complete, the note is discarded. Paper clips hold two or more things together for a few hours or days, and are then returned to the desk drawer.

Figured it out yet? They are all just a temporary "fix" - a momentary solution to a temporary need. They are used in "reaction" to a short-term need. They are also similar to our daily personal lives. When feelings are hurt and the tears come, we automatically reach for a Kleenex. We might, on the other hand, have taken time to determine the source of those feelings and concentrated on resolving a difference before tears were necessary.

When our children misbehave, we react with a 15-minute (or 3-day) "time-out." We might have avoided that temporary fix by listening to their concerns and teaching appropriate behavior before the fact. Then, there are all the excuses we make, used like Band-Aids, to temporarily cover the flaws in our own behavior. Wouldn't a more permanent solution like performing to expectations, learning from past experience, or practicing excellence be more appropriate?

Yes, we live in a very fast-paced world. Quick solutions are the order of the day, yet we must eventually realize that we continually seem to need a fresh supply of Scotch Tape, Kleenex, or paper clips. By taking more time to look ahead, it is possible to eliminate many of the situations that require those one-minute Band-Aids. Avoid future "boo-boos." Search for, learn, and practice a more permanent and proactive life. That's right - "No more tears!"

Posted 2/27/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"God is in the details." ~ Mies van der Rohe, architect "The devil is in the details." ~ Unattributed 

WHAT GIVES? 

People often characterize themselves as either "big picture" or as "detail oriented." Truth be told, we need to be a little of both. 

Accounting for the details often brings images of sweating over the small stuff. If we've got a good view of the big picture, why fret the details? Whether in an architectural rendering, or for a dinner party, or in a contract, details definitely help transform an idea into a full-blown reality. Just as importantly, the very thought that goes into those details gives us the opportunity to be creative in our actions. Our attention to “the little things” shows our craft with tools, our skill with clients, or our ability with language. 

Some confuse detail with flash, but even the simplest home can still illustrate its detailing in how well it is constructed and how gracefully it uses space. A good manager understands how environment, scheduling, praise and celebration can increase morale and productivity. 

By not letting the little things slip by us, we are able to gain a much deeper understanding of another person, a job at hand, and even ourselves. Such attention to detail is beneficial to everyone involved, and that's the point. 

Forget those details and that’s when the devil appears! The Big Picture is an absolute necessity, yes. You’ve got to be able to visualize your goals. Just don't forget to plan for and paint in not only the necessary details, but also those that that reflect your personality through their beauty, art, and skill. If you can just work it through, you’ll find that sometimes your devils are really angels in disguise!

Posted 2/20/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"He is not fit for riches, who is afraid to use them."

~ Thomas Fuller

WHERE DO YOU INVEST?

Several business books suggest three ways to become financially independent. It is said that these three methods of building wealth create "multiple streams of income" - a never-ending financial source that continues to grow. So - what are the three "magic beans" that, when planted, yield wealth?

They are: 1) investing in real estate, 2) investing in the stock market, and 3) running your own business. To achieve excellence in any of the three, you must have extensive knowledge, be willing to take risks, and have a passion for achievement.

First comes knowledge. Who do you think might have the best grasp on the ins and outs of real estate - a doctor or someone in the real estate business? An understanding of contracts, real estate law, pricing and values, marketing, financing and math would all be vital, wouldn't they?

Risk-taking does not come easily for most of us. Unless we put our money at risk, however, we cannot expect a favorable return. If you don't believe that, just take a look at what your checking or savings account is paying right now!

Finally, we must have a passion for achievement. That means a burning desire, not a lukewarm, milquetoast attitude. Anything less will leave us in the dust of others who display that desire.

Wealth, a.k.a. financial independence, does not arrive on our doorstep in the form of a visit from Publishers Clearinghouse. Nor does the lottery or an inheritance often pay us a visit. We are able to achieve wealth only by choice. It comes slowly at first, and then builds to a crescendo beyond our wildest imaginings.

It's the "at first" that will govern the final result. So, then, it's your choice - real estate, stocks, your own business, or all three!

Posted 2/13/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The man who dies rich, dies disgraced."

~ Andrew Carnegie

THE MEANING OF POVERTY!

A colleague passed this delightful story along:

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how much poverty exists in the world. They spent several days and nights on the farm of a very poor family.

Upon their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?" The son's answer? "It was great, Dad!" "Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked. "Oh yeah," said the son.

"So, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father. The son continued, "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden, and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden, and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard, and they have the whole horizon."

His son added, "We have a small piece of land to live on, and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who work for us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, and they have friends to protect them."

With this the boy's father was speechless. Then his son finally said, "Thanks Dad, for showing me how poor we are."

Too many times we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don't have. What is one person's worthless object is another's prize possession. It is all based on one's perspective. It makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for the bounty we have, instead of worrying about wanting more. Take joy in all you have, especially your friends.

Posted 2/6/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Time is clay. Make something."

~ Unknown

TIME'S A'WASTING!

To paraphrase a favorite tune, "If I could save time in a bottle..." I could have saved literally millions of minutes so far. Of course most of us think in terms of a 24-hour clock that gives us another chance to save each time we wake up. We think of time beginning anew with the start of each day. Not so. Time is actually a continuum, a straight line.

If you were born in 1952, you could have saved 27,856,800 minutes by now. Born in 1968? You'd have a bottle full of 19,447,200 minutes. No matter when you were born, it's easy to calculate just how many minutes you could have saved by now. The real question, of course, is how many minutes are left. Bet you didn't want to hear that.

Not to worry. It's what you do with what you've got that counts. So why not begin looking at time as clay - as something you roll in your hands and form into anything you like. Remember making little cars, or a house, or a little clay doll when you were little? Back then, no one told you what to make - you just let your imagination guide you.

As you got older, you were told what you could do, when you could do it, and how much time you had to get it done. You quit playing with the clay, and didn't have the time to let your imagination guide you. More than likely you fell into a routine (a.k.a. a rut), one possibly designed by someone else's imagination.

Why not take some of the time you have to rediscover the joy your own imagination can bring? Think back to those wonderful days of clay - and make something!

Posted 1/30/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation or creed."

~ Bertrand Russell (1872-1949)

THE PLEASURES OF TOLERANCE!

We probably all know someone who fits the description quoted above – people who aren’t happy unless they’re unhappy about someone or something. They are the perpetual complainers, always blaming what’s happening around them on others or others’ belief systems. They tend to look outside themselves for explanations of why things are the way they are.

Have you ever noticed that things always happen TO them, but they never actually cause things to happen themselves? You might describe them best as “reactionaries,” because all they ever do is “react” (negatively) to what other people think, do, or believe. They try to make themselves look better by making others look worse!

What type of person would you rather be? One who expertly criticizes everything, or one who finds a way to tolerate the thoughts, actions, and beliefs of those around you? The former will cause stress resulting in headaches, ulcers, and the disdain of those with whom you work and play. The latter will produce a feeling of happiness and compassion, while passing along your positive outlook to others around you who will respect and admire your policy of tolerance.

In our current global climate, it’s easy to be suspicious and critical of other cultures and religions. However, for the very reasons we might be led to hate, it is all the more important to display love, tolerance, and an attempt at understanding. Do your best to find the best in others, and your efforts will come back to you in kind. It’s the ethics of reciprocity. Remember the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” As corny as it may sound, it still rings true today. So set your example - don’t be “REactive”, be “PROactive”!

Posted 1/24/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"There is more to life than increasing its speed."

~ Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

THREE RIGHTS MAKE A LEFT!

There are myriad perspectives on the best way to get through life. Some people fear stagnation, and barrel along as fast as they can, taking every opportunity and wasting none of their time. Others who fear mental and physical overload go at a slow but steady pace, carefully weighing their every move and creating recuperative downtime. Still others fall somewhere in between, creating a successful recipe out of ingredients from both of the other worldviews.

Michael Gartner, editor, network news president and Pulitzer Prize winner, learned his own lesson for the best way to navigate through a happy and long life. He acquired it from his father, a man who never took left turns. Literally. He had once read an article that said most accidents involving older people happen when they turn left into oncoming traffic. That was the point at which he and his wife decided to never again make a left turn.

They reasoned that three right turns equal a left, and it's safer. Even when they occasionally lost count, they would just make seven rights and be back on track! If they missed after seven, they'd just call it a day and head back home. "Besides," his father reasoned, "nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week."

Next time you feel like life's pace is moving a bit too fast, recall this sobering reminder that you have time to do things the way you want to. You've got your destination, but take a safe and enjoyable journey on your way. Maybe even get out of the car and take a walk instead. For fast relief, try slowing down!

Posted 1/16/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Gardner's Law: Eighty-seven percent of all people in all professions are incompetent."

~ John Gardner

PERSONALITY TEST!

Let's hope today's "inspiration" isn't actually true, although we've all probably felt that way at one time or another. Regardless of the percentage, however, it cannot be denied that incompetence really does exist in every profession, even those like physicians, attorneys, school bus drivers and stock brokers.

Some people do a great job no matter what it is they do, while others can't seem to succeed even after trying several careers. Sometimes it's not really a matter of competence so much as matching a job to specific abilities, interests and personality. An introvert who enjoys working alone probably shouldn't pursue a career in communications, while a creative person who enjoys the outdoors likely wouldn't be happy in accounting. No matter how hard you try, you just can't force yourself to love brussels sprouts!

How much of the "incompetence" that we encounter is simply the result of a person who is mismatched for their job? We all have certain skills and personality traits that better suit certain types of careers, but we often start down that path before we've ever gotten to really develop and know ourselves. We believe our parents, guidance counselors, and spouses more than we do ourselves sometimes.

Realizing your true personality is challenging. Applying that knowledge to your choice of career is even more difficult, but absolutely necessary if you want to be happy in your choice. If you're feeling dissatisfied, try to find at least some small aspect of your job that you find enjoyable, and aggressively apply your personality to it to produce more satisfying results.

If that's not working for you, perhaps it's time to take a long hard look at where you've been and where you are and why you don't like it there. Matthew Arnold said, "Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery." You've probably learned a lot about other people in your lifetime. Aren't you ready to know yourself?

Posted 1/09/2017

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible - and achieve it, generation after generation."

~ Pearl S. Buck

REMEMBER YOUR YOUTH!

Ever watched a healthy smiling child try to walk? For each step attempted, a dozen result in miserable failure and a bump on the head. Does the child admit defeat and stop trying? Never! The child doesn't know enough, doesn't have enough information or experience, to understand the concept of quitting. The child attempts the impossible, and succeeds.

So - what happens over the years that stops us from attempting the "impossible?" Og Mandino reminds us in "The Greatest Miracle In The World":

"You weep for all your childhood dreams that have vanished with the years. You weep for all your self-esteem that has been corrupted by failure. You weep for all your potential that has been bartered for security. You weep for all your individuality that has been trampled by the mobs. You weep for all your talent that has been wasted through misuse."

To paraphrase Og's words, we let our life's experiences rob us of the innocent optimism of our childhood. We come to know too much about life's hard knocks - making us prudent, cautious, afraid, and wary of trying. We avoid failure by not attempting.

OK - so it's too late for us to return to the innocence of the cradle. So . . . what now? We must identify the source of and overcome our fear of failure. By developing courage and faith, we can deny fear a foothold in our lives. As someone once commented, "Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there!"

Posted 1/02/2017

It’s Just Another Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne.

I’m sure you’ve heard this song during the holiday season and like many, have wondered what it means. The character Harry in the film When Harry Met Sally asked, “What does this song mean?  My whole life I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances or does it mean that if we happen to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?” To which Sally replied, “Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends.”

Sally got it partially right. In 1788 a man named Robert Burns sent the poem ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to the Scots Musical Museum. He told them that it was an ancient song, but that he had been the first to record it on paper.  The phrase ‘auld lang syne’ roughly translates as ‘for old times’ sake’, and the song is all about preserving old friendships and looking back over the events of the year. It is sung all over the world, evoking a sense of belonging and fellowship and a touch of nostalgia. So, when Auld Lang Syne comes on the radio or is played at a New Year’s Eve party you are attending, think about the meaning behind the words…remember 2016, the good times and the bad, and keep the friends and family that were there for you close to your heart.

Here are some fun facts about New Year’s Eve:

  • If you are in Las Vegas, Disney World or New York City on December 31st, you will be in one of the three most popular places to ring in the new year in the United States.  Sydney, Australia is the most popular spot for celebrating internationally.
  • The first New Year’s celebration dates back 4,000 years to when Julius Caesar was the Emperor of Rome.  He was the first to declare January 1 a holiday.
  • Forty-five percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. The top resolutions are to lose weight, get organized, spend less, save more, improve health and quit smoking.  Approximately twenty-five percent of Americans give up on their resolutions by the second week of January.
  • Many people ring in the new year by popping a bottle of champagne. Nearly 360 million glasses of sparkling wine are consumed by Americans on New Year’s Eve.
  • About 1 million people gather in Times Square in New York City to watch the ball drop. The Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop came about because of a ban on fireworks. The first ball in 1907 was 700 pounds and was lit with 100 25-watt lights. The current ball puts the old one to shame (thanks to technology). Today, it is covered in 2,688 crystals, is lit by 32,000 LED lights, weighs 11,875 pounds and is 12 feet in diameter.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, have a safe, happy and healthy NEW YEAR! 

Posted 12/19/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy."

~ Brian Tracy

PUT IT IN WRITING!

“How do you get there from here?” A common enough question when you don’t know where you’re going. If you were planning a long trip, you would certainly check Google Maps or a road atlas to verify and write down the directions.

But what about your life, your dreams, your expectations? “How do you get there from here?” Have you bothered to write down the directions? Do you even have a starting point and a destination planned? Here it is – the most important journey you face, and you probably haven’t even written down your thoughts or plans on how to travel.

Writing down your goals and ideas helps to make them more concrete, more real. It helps you realize and take the necessary steps toward achievement. By defining what you want, and your ideas for getting it, you increase the chances that you’ll actually pursue and accomplish your goal.

Don’t know what you want to do? How about thinking of what you “need” to do? Most people have even less of an idea of what they need than what they want. But often, our career choices have more to do with necessity than desire. Yet we all hear that we’re happiest when we’re doing what we love.

A study on “journaling” showed that people who keep some kind of written record of their aspirations are 32% more likely to feel they are making progress in their lives. If a daily entry is too much commitment, at least sit down once a week and write something, anything, whatever comes to you. Thoughts about work, family, food, politics, whatever.

You’ll begin to see patterns and discover things you might have forgotten (or not even known) about yourself. The notion of what you “need” to do will begin to show itself, and then you can begin drawing that road map. Happy motoring!

Posted 12/12/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Forgiving those who hurt us is the key to personal peace."

~ G. Weatherly

HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE HAPPY?

You've been hearing about this sort of thing on the news lately - people who have suffered a terrible loss at the hands of violent criminals, but still find it in their hearts and minds to forgive those who have trespassed against them. Their interviewers pose questions like, "How in the world can you forgive the man who killed your daughter?" or "How do you find the strength to be pardon someone who has wronged you so horribly?"

These people are often guided by their faith, but they sometimes surprisingly answer that their anger and hatred would simply kill them if they did not find a way to get rid of their negative emotions. Before they find a means of forgiveness, they develop ulcers, grey hair, migraine headaches, digestive disorders, and so on.

These people end up realizing that the only way back to health - both mental and physical - is to come to peace with the tragic events that have affected them. They come to realize that they have no control over these events, and they even discover a way to erase any of their own guilt associated with the events. Anger, accusation, guilt, hatred - we all know the mental toll that these emotions take, but all these emotions eventually manifest themselves physically as well.

Hopefully you haven't experienced the kind of loss that these people have, but you can try to learn their difficult lesson. Let go of negative emotions associated with things that are out of your control. You can find personal peace and well-being in the satisfying feeling of forgiveness. It may not even be a specific person that you are forgiving, but maybe just a set of unhappy circumstances.

Take steps this week to identify something or someone that you feel negatively about. Search your heart and your mind for a way to understand that the longer you feel so badly, the worse it will continue to make you feel. Take back the control you've relinquished to people and circumstances around you. You can rise above the negativity around you and create something positive and inspiring.

Posted 12/5/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"It's OK to build castles in the air . . . so long as you build a firm foundation under them."

~ Henry David Thoreau 

WANT TO ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING REALLY GREAT?

Ever dream of becoming a U.S. Senator? Want to become an anonymous benefactor of youth programs in your community? Want to rise to the top 1% of your profession? Inspirational artist D. Morgan puts it this way: "The impossible dream . . . isn't!"

So - how do dreams become reality? Once your dream becomes your passion, you can begin building the foundation that will support the eventual structure of your dream. Begin by reading and studying how others have achieved similar dreams.

For politicians-to-be, there are plenty of biographies that reveal the long road to election. For those who aspire to achieve peak earnings, mentors are plentiful. Hang out with, attend courses with, and "shadow" the real stars in your chosen field. Ask how they began their rise, how they blend their work and family, how they attract and retain clients and customers.

In most cases, you will find that the models you choose have also made hard choices. They have first adopted certain principles upon which their decisions are made. Their actions are congruent with those principles. They are not duplicitous in their dealings with others. Their "word is their bond." Their foundational character sets the tone for the structure of their dreams.

Finally, with the foundation in place - they just build. They create plans, they implement strategies to achieve those plans. They understand that their final success does not occur in one fell swoop. It is the result of many footsteps in the direction of their dreams.

So . . . go ahead and dream! Remember - destiny is not a matter of chance . . . it's a matter of choice!

Posted 11/28/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Pursue the good ardently. But if your efforts fall short, accept the result and move on."

~ Epictetus

WHO ARE YOU?

Who do you want to be? Which are the principles by which you want to live? Do honesty, perseverance, and wisdom define you? Are sincerity, generosity, and a caring attitude your trademark?

Having a vague idea of the benchmark traits you wish to exhibit is not enough. To be extraordinary, it is necessary to define yourself in specific terms. If you haven't adopted a precise set of principles, consider choosing from the list that follows: humility, diligence, moderation, silence, temperance, chastity, courage, resolution, justice, industry, faithfulness, order, tranquility, cleanliness, encouragement, frugality, generosity, sincerity, persistence, honesty, perseverance, or caring.

Choose five that most closely match the person you would choose to be. Next define what each means to you, and how you can adopt them as your trademark traits. Finally, begin acting like the person you would be. Ben Franklin kept a small diary and rated his actions each day by placing a checkmark each time he violated one of his personal principles. Over time, as the checkmarks dwindled for one principle, he would move on to the next.

There's no need to discuss your quest for a principle-centered life with anyone. This is personal, very personal. It's also important to accept the fact that once you've adopted a credo, you won't do a perfect job of living up to it. When you find you've fallen short, "accept the result and move on."

Unless you're living the perfect life right now, and most of us aren't, give some thought to redefining yourself. Decide to be extraordinary and do whatever you must do - NOW!

Posted 11/21/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward."

~ James Thurber (1984-1961)

WHICH WAY WILL YOU FALL?

The humor of today's quote belies its truth, and indeed it's sometimes easier to make a point by making fun of it. But what important lesson can we glean from the words of Mr. Thurber?

It may have something to do with whether we are acting or reacting. You can think of falling flat on your face as being the "action." You've fallen down, but at least you've fallen in a forward direction! Think of leaning too far backward as being the "reaction." Not only have you fallen, but you've fallen in reverse!

The idea is to take chances and not withdraw from them. You've certainly failed if you don't take the chance, and maybe you will fail if you do take the chance. But if you experience disappointment after at least trying to succeed, then at least you have your attempt of which to be proud.

Failure is a given, friends, and it's how you handle that occasional failure that will set you apart from your competition. Anthony Robbins is a favorite source of wisdom: "If you think you can or if you think you can't, either way you are right." If you're going to make your mistakes, make them in a fashion that will at least help you move forward.

Be gracious in defeat, but don't back down from the challenge. If it looks like a no-win situation, at least make yourself look better for having risen to the test. Have you leaned too far backward? Have you ceded too much to someone else, or backed off from a sticky situation? Maybe then you do feel as though you've fallen flat on your face. Either way, the result is the same, and it's time to pick yourself up and move on.

If you've made a fool of yourself, hopefully you can laugh at your little tumble and still maintain a degree of respect for yourself. In time, everyone else will come around too!

Posted 11/14/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"There's nothing as constant as change." - Unknown

FEELING WIRED?

Feel on edge? Not sure what to expect next? Nerves frayed? Feeling overwhelmed by today's complex world situation? How is it that some people are calm, fearless, and content, while others are frightful, worried, overwhelmed, and uncertain about the future?

In the 1950's there were only three models of Chevrolet, about four dry cereals, two or three types of soap, etc. Mom went grocery shopping weekly. There were no shopping malls, computers, cell phones, portable CD players (or CD's), 401(k)s, Internet, or co-ed dorms. Life was simple and calm - and revolved around the family. Technology didn't dominate daily life.

Today, our choices have expanded exponentially. There are hundreds of vehicle models, 50 different cereals on the shelf, software for every occasion, hundreds of cable channels, and millions of pages on the World Wide Web. Think that might clog your thinking just a little? Want to get back to simplicity, peace, and security?

Try a few of the following suggestions. Begin limiting your choices. Spend less than you earn. Limit trips to the store. Spend the evening at home - with your family - with the TV OFF. Go directly home after work. Identify your principles - and live them. Count your blessings daily by entering them in a journal. Read. Treat yourself to a hot bath. 

Think of your life as an extension cord with too many appliances plugged-in. Each vies for the limited energy you have available until a short-circuit or fire occurs. Start unplugging all those peripherals now, and you'll notice your life-light begin to shine.

Posted 11/7/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Leaders are like eagles. They don't flock - you find them one at a time." ~ Unattributed 

BE FREE!

In Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits", he talks about focusing on the important to the exclusion of the unimportant. In his own words, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."

See if you recognize which motivational trainer espoused this similar philosophy:

"There are things within your power, and there are things beyond your power. Within your power are opinion, aim, desire, aversion; in a word, whatever affairs are your own. Beyond your power are body, property, reputation, office; in a word, affairs not properly your own. Concern yourself only with what is within your power.

The essence of good consists of things within your own power; with them there is no room for envy or emulation. For your part, do not desire to be a general, or a senator, or a consul, but to be free; and the only way to do this is a disregard of things which do not lie within your own power."

If you guessed Zig Ziglar, Howard Brinton, or Anthony Robbins, guess again. Its author referred to it as a "field manual for soldiers." It was carried by Frederick the Great on all his campaigns. It was written by the Stoic philosopher Epictetus.

Stephen Covey conveys a similar message when he suggests drawing two concentric circles with a dot in the middle. He equates the dot in the middle to you, the first circle as your area of influence, and the outside circle as your area of concern. He suggests that you concentrate only on the circle of influence, things which you have the power to influence or change. He advises that you disregard those in the area of concern over which you have no influence or power.

YOUR CHALLENGE FOR THIS WEEK:

How much time and energy are you wasting through worry and concern over things you cannot control? Focus your energy and your life on the "main thing" beginning now - then watch your circle of influence begin to grow. Do it now!

Posted 10-31-16

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The world makes way for a man who knows where he is going."~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

THIRTY-ONE SECONDS TO GO!

You may recall the story of how steel-magnate Andrew Carnegie commissioned Napoleon Hill to learn the true philosophy of success from America's most successful individuals of the early 1900's. Hill's search for those success secrets culminated in his well-known book "Think & Grow Rich".

What you may not know was how Hill almost squandered the opportunity offered by Carnegie. At the end of a long interview, Carnegie abruptly told Hill, "We've talked a long time and I have shown you the greatest opportunity a young man ever had to become famous, rich, and useful. Now - if I choose you out of the two hundred and forty other applicants - if I introduce you to the outstandingly successful men in America - if I help you get their collaboration in finding out the true philosophy of success - will you devote twenty years to the job, earning your own living as you go along? We have had sufficient discussion. I want your answer - yes or no."

Hill tells that he spent twenty-nine seconds struggling with a negative mental attitude, thinking of all the hurdles he would face over the twenty-year project. Finally, finding the positive mental attitude he had temporarily lost, Hill replied, "YES!"

How did he know it took 29 seconds to answer? At that point, Carnegie showed Hill the stopwatch he had been holding beneath his desk. Carnegie had allowed Hill just 60 seconds to show his positive state of mind, the one trait he felt most critical to achieving his desired results.

Hill hesitated. We all do from time to time. What's important, like Hill's answer, is that we ultimately grasp that sometimes-elusive positive mental attitude, and adopt it as our own. Had he hesitated for thirty-one seconds more, Napoleon Hill would have given up a wonderful opportunity (as well as depriving us of his inspiring book). He didn't . . . and neither should we.

Posted 10/17/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"You can never get enough of what you don't need to make you happy."~ Eric Hoffer

ARE YOU A BARGAIN HUNTER?

When’s the last time you went to shop at a store because they were advertising a big sale? Or pulled over to check out the offerings at a weekend yard sale? Or spent an hour browsing through listings on eBay?

We all love to get a bargain when we shop, but remember that value is determined not by what you pay but by what you get. Even if it’s a bargain, how ultimately satisfying is your purchase?

It seems to have become second nature to accumulate stuff – call it collecting, if you will. How many “treasured pieces” do you have stored away in your attic, basement or boxes in your closet? Sometimes what we can’t seem to live without ends up becoming “treasure” for the next bargain-hunter who comes to OUR yard sale!

In our acts of acquisition, is it possible that we’re actually looking for something more meaningful, more precious? Are we overlooking gifts of much greater value? Albert Camus once wrote, “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Happiness will find you if you simply stop trying to find (or buy) it.

Those who always want more (of anything) will never have enough of it. There is no end in sight once the search begins, until finally the search turns inward and we realize that we can be happy with what we’ve already got. With so many people who are so much less fortunate than we, how could we possibly want more for ourselves, unless it is to help others?

The next time you reach for that irresistible bargain, reconsider its value in The Big Picture and the satisfaction it will offer over time. Maybe something of even greater value is already within your reach...

Posted 10/10/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The beginning of thought is in disagreement, not only with others but also with ourselves." ~ Eric Hoffer

 A FEW "NO" MEN!

It’s safe to say that the best results are produced when people work together. Solo projects often suffer from a one-sided perspective and lack of meaningful input. This isn’t to say that you can’t accomplish a lot when working on your own – it takes time and concentration to make progress. Just make sure that you involve other people in your work.

It’s especially helpful when those “team mates” aren’t just “yes men” who always agree with you or fear to offer a different point of view. It’s really essential that the problem is analyzed from at least two sides, and that everyone applies their particular strengths where they’re most needed.

Think about it – there are those who are great at organizing and beginning projects, and there are those who are great finishers. Sometimes we describe folks as “big picture” people, while others are really “good at the details.” Some very creative people easily lose interest once a project is begun, while those who display tenacity might not be so talented at dreaming up the next big thing.

You’ve figured out by now that the point is that it takes both types (or even three or four types) of people to create and complete a project successfully. By involving others whose traits and perspectives are opposite from your own, you’re guaranteeing a better chance of wider acceptance of the results.

While it’s great to have confidence in your work, you shouldn’t be so egocentric that you don’t believe anyone else can offer valuable input or find a better way by looking at things from a fresh perspective. You’ll garner respect and find success when you invite criticism and disagreement. Care to debate it?

Posted 10/3/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"When roadblocks, locked gates, and unexpected turns sprout up along the path we've mapped out, we can quit on the spot and progress no further. Or, we can build a new path and follow it in whatever direction our imagination takes us. For those who dream, the choice is simple." ~ from Country Living magazine 

A NEW DIRECTION!

So . . . you've done all those things the greatest minds have suggested - you've planned your life's objectives and created a career/life/family path, and have no doubt where it will lead you. You're on your own "Yellow Brick Road" to happiness and prosperity until . . . ZAP! . . . there appears a sign on the path that reads, "Road Closed."

You peer past the sign to determine the road condition. It looks OK, so you veer around the sign and continue. The road turns to gravel, then dirt, then narrows to a walking path. You leave the car, and continue on foot. Soon your arms are scratched by briars, you begin to tire, and the path abruptly ends at a sheer 200' cliff. Your trip is over. There are no more "yellow bricks" to follow. What now?

If you've ever come to the end of such a road in your life, you well know the sinking feeling that came over you. No matter how much you felt like giving up, the situation was no doubt resolved by creating a new road, a new path leading in an entirely different direction.

You may have had to hack at the briars, trim back the trees, and even bulldoze your way in a new direction. It may have taken time, with compass and hiking shoes, to blaze that new trail. It may have been exhausting work, but in the end you reached your destination.

You have two choices when faced with a roadblock. You can quit, or you can put your imagination to work finding an alternate route. In the words of Sir Winston Churchill "Never give up. Never give up."

Posted 9/26/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."  ~ Carl Bard

BACK TO THE FUTURE! 

Sometimes we look back on past events and wish that we had a "do over." While we should try to avoid regrets, it's still a good idea to analyze what we've done and try to understand how we might have done things better. Of course, there's no changing the past, but that doesn't mean that the past can't or won't change our future.

Maybe there's a relationship that has deteriorated over the years. Perhaps by now you've forgotten who was right or who was wrong, or maybe it's just a question of having lost touch. This is not a case of needing a brand new start, but of reworking the ending.

Since you can't "edit" the past, start writing a new chapter right now! While you have no control over what you have done, you do have complete control over what you are going to do. It can be very empowering when you realize that you actually have it in your command to create the future and the relationships that you want.

And it's not just about relationships - it can be about building wealth if you've squandered opportunities in the past. You simply have to make a commitment and forgive yourself for actions you cannot change. If your dream is to retire in comfort in ten, twenty, or thirty years, analyze your past spending and saving, educate yourself or consult a professional, and take steps now to create the results you want.

Whatever your goals for the future, your real power comes from letting go of the past. Stop worrying about what you have said and done (or haven't said or done) and start focusing on what you will say and do. Turn your negative energies toward positive actions and you'll amaze yourself!

Popular writer and adventurer Louis L'Amour said it well, "Everyone has it within his power to say, this I am today, that I shall be tomorrow." Here's to the future!

Posted 9/19/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY: 

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these."  ~ George Washington Carver

STEP UP!

At a fundraising dinner for a school serving learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students stood up to speak. He began by saying, “I believe that when a child like my Shay comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself.” He went on to tell the following story.

Shay and his dad were walking past a park where some other boys were playing a game of baseball. Shay excitedly asked, “Do you think they’ll let me play?” Reluctantly, but hopefully, Shay’s father approached the boys. The captain looked at the others for some guidance, but finding none, said, “We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning, but I guess he can play. We’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth.”

Still down in the ninth, Shay put on a glove and headed to the outfield. No hits came to him, but he was ecstatic. Then “Shay’s team” came to bat, scored, and got the winning run on base. Now Shay was next at bat. 

Shay’s obvious inexperience inspired the pitcher to move closer and lob the ball in softly enough for Shay to try to make contact. He missed the first toss, but the pitcher moved in even more before his next toss, which Shay ground balled right back to him.

The pitcher picked up the grounder and threw the ball in a high arc toward right field, over the first baseman. Now the crowd started yelling and cheering for Shay to run, run, run to first base! Understanding his pitcher’s intentions, the right fielder threw the ball high over the third baseman’s head, and Shay made it to second while the winning runs headed home.

The opposing shortstop directed Shay to third, while the crowd and all the players on the field went nuts. You might guess that Shay eventually made it around to home base, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam.

“That day,” the father finished, “the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world.” A lovely illustration of the virtue of compassion, and how we all have myriad opportunities to make a huge difference in the lives of those around us. Pay it forward!

Posted 9/12/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"A single thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning." ~ Unknown

THESE SHOES ARE MADE FOR WALKING!!

Remember one of the ancient sayings from your first-grade teacher? It went something like this: "We learn to do by doing." So . . . from "Chicken Soup" comes this story by John Holt:

"Not many years ago I began playing the cello. Most people would say that what I am doing is 'learning to play' the cello. But these words carry into our minds the strange idea that there exist two very different processes: 1) learning to play the cello; and 2) playing the cello. They imply that I will do the first until I have completed it, at which point I will stop the first process and begin the second. In short, I will go on 'learning to play' until I have 'learned to play' and then I will begin to play. Of course, this is nonsense. There are not two processes, but one. We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way."

How do we learn to swim? Do we get the basics in a classroom, taught to us on a chalkboard, and then hit the pool like Mark Spitz or Esther Williams? How about riding a bike? Do we study the laws of physics, the effects of gravitational pull, or other Einstein-like theories, and then launch ourselves into the top spot in the "Tour de France?" No - we just fall down and scrape our knees a lot.

Want to add new direction to your life? Begin walking in that direction. Put one foot in front of the other. In other words, "Just do it!" It all begins with your imagination harnessing the power of your mind and the energy of your body. Once you choose a new role for your life, don't learn the part - act the part. One other thing - don't let that "single thorn of experience" deter you!

Posted 9/6/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches." ~ Rainer Maria Rilke "Somebody's boring me; I think it's me." ~ Dylan Thomas

NOT BED-TIME READING!

There’s been a lot of heated discussion regarding the embellishment of facts in order to make an otherwise “true story” more interesting. You may recall that a "memoir" published within the last couple of years was scrutinized like a journalistic piece, and its author publicly shamed for previously claiming as fact many of the now acknowledged fabricated details in the book.

So why would someone feel compelled to make up details about their life? If you began writing your autobiography today, would it consist of bestseller material, or do you think your life might not be exciting enough to inspire others? Jot down a possible Table of Contents. Look boring? What’s the solution? Live a more exciting life!

Begin to imagine and act every day as though you knew you would be recounting the details and events later on. If you keep a journal or a diary, you’re already familiar with the idea, although you might not expect others to read it. A journal helps you to identify and solidify ideas for success, while a memoir puts your actions in front of the world to see.

Boring job? Find the beauty in it, revel in the good you really do for others, or begin planning today your climb up the ladder or up an entirely different ladder. Boring relationships? Find new things to do, visit new places to do them, or start nurturing new associations with those whom you most admire. Boring personality? Expand your horizons with travel, exercise your mind with reading, and make a commitment to caring for and helping others.

Start living the life you would be confident to share, and before you know it, your autobiography will go from “bargain bin” to “best seller”!

Posted 8/29/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"I keep waitin' for my ship to come in, but all that comes in is the tide."  ~ Lyrics from "Hard Time Losin' Man" by Jim Croce

THE WAITING GAME!

The well-known Nike commercials have hammered into our heads the phrase "Just do it!" Regardless of how you view their advertising, there is magic in the words "just do it." The real key to the message is "doing it," a.k.a. taking action. Anything you have ever desired is available to you if you will it.

Now, consider those who are constantly washed over by the "tide." Note that the lyrics in Jim Croce's song say, "I'm WAITING for my ship to come in . . ." and then, "but all that comes in is the tide." That sounds like a victim's lament, as in, "Oh poor me, here I am ready and excited, waiting for my ship to come in, and I get dumped on by the sorry tide. Bummer. How unfair." Duhh! Helloooo!

It's easy to see that "action" is the opposite of "waiting." Yet, it's so easy to do nothing - waiting passively. Action requires energy, enthusiasm, movement, objectives, while waiting requires not even a thought.

Whether your desire (your "ship") is a relationship, wealth, a healthy body, or a new car, you must be the captain, not the port - the "master of your fate," not a tide- washed, sand covered beach ball. Life is great! On your next trip to the beach, buy a boat, a map, and a compass, and then choose your own port of call. You'll dine at the Captain's Table every day!

Posted 8/22/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it, you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known." ~ Garrison Keillor

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT?

The next time your hope or ambition is thwarted, and you believe that you didn't get what you wanted, think about the quote above. The problem so many of us have is that we're not happy with what we've already got. We believe that there is something or someone else out there, outside of ourselves, that will make us happier than we are now.

It's really so much easier to simply find a way to appreciate what we've got. That's not to say that we should all become complacent. Doing things to make other people happy is a wonderful diversion from trying to do so for ourselves. Just remember that you are the one who is ultimately responsible for your happiness, not the "something or someone" that is outside of you.

While trying to make others happy, also remember that they are ultimately responsible for their happiness as well. Don't blame yourself if you don't think you did enough to cheer up a friend, or you weren't able to give them that gift they really wanted. The greatest gift you can give is to help someone realize that they already have everything they really need. Sometimes this is the gift you need to give yourself.

Sit down today and try counting your blessings - list things like family, friends, pets, mobility, a satisfying job, shelter, financial independence, food in the fridge - any and all things great and small. Stand back and take a look at the "Big Picture." No matter what you think you want, you'll realize that you've got it pretty darn good right here, right now. Anything else is just icing on the cake! Enjoy the sweetness!

Posted 8/15/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship." ~ General Omar Bradley

FEELING LOST?

Do you find yourself drifting on an ocean of indecision, misdirection, unfulfilled aspirations? Feel like you're not getting as far along as your colleagues, or as far along as they say you should? It's probably time to throw out your compass!

While it can be helpful to look to others for inspiration, don't make the mistake of believing that you can or even should try to achieve the same accomplishments. Using a map of your own making, set your individual course according to where you want to go and how quickly you want to get there.

Indeed, you can set your sights much higher than the "landmarks" or "passing ships" of those people around you who tell you what you should do or what you shouldn't do. You'll lose your valuable perspective of the Big Picture if you pay too much attention to the advice or achievements of others.

Whether you are passing them or they are passing you, don't lose sight of what is guiding you and where. Your dreams and ambitions are the unmoving and constant "North Star" in your life. While everything else around you can change so quickly from day to day, it's your own beliefs and convictions that give you the steady course you need to successfully navigate those changes.

You'll never get anywhere by trying to determine the success or even the path of your journey by the "passing ships" around you. Stay focused solely on what you believe and know to be true, and ignore the nay-sayers! They may be gone tomorrow, but your dreams will be the stars in your sky forever.

Posted 8/8/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."  ~ Michelangelo

ELIMINATE THE NEGATIVE! 

"You can't do that! You're not smart enough to accomplish such a thing! Your grades aren't high enough. You're too short (or too tall). You'll lose everything if you try that. Are you crazy - it won't work."

Ever have a relative, friend or business acquaintance who used those types of negative comments to influence you? Being on the receiving end of such dismal drivel doesn't do a lot for your self-esteem, does it?

As Wayne Dyer has said, "No one knows enough to be a pessimist." Do the ones who make negative comments have a positive record of life successes? Are they happy? Can they back up their dreary outlook on life with proof that "the sky is falling?" Does their knowledge level inspire you to follow their low aim? Are you drawn to them as positive role models?

Ever notice how winners like to be around other winners? It's uplifting, isn't it? Their aim is high. They believe in themselves, their abilities, and their future. Their smiles encourage growth and peace. We're not just talking about financial winners here. Think of those around you who love their families, encourage their children in school, and uphold high principles in a world of low morals

Aiming low, or refusing to take aim at all, encourages, promotes, and justifies mediocrity. Don't ever be afraid to reach high or aim for the stars. Eliminate the negative from your relationships. It will free you to see the beauty that abounds in this unlimited world.

Posted 8/1/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY: 

"The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time." ~ Abraham Lincoln

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!

Weddings. Graduations. Birthdays. Holidays. An endless list of important occasions. We all have major events in our lives and others’ lives in which we participate. We and people close to us have sometimes exerted tremendous effort organizing celebrations with the intention that everyone involved will enjoy themselves.

In other words, we actually make plans to be happy and to have a good time. We even map out entire blocks of days in which to have fun in the form of vacations. We develop hobbies in order to ensure that we can devote some hours of our week doing something we know we'll enjoy.

While looking back over some of the happiest, funniest, most fulfilling or most moving experiences in your life, however, how many of them were in fact not planned at all, but completely spontaneous?

If you stop and think about it, you'll probably find that your life is full of these moments, these small events during the course of an otherwise average day that you will retain in your memory as meaningful and recall with pleasure.

It may be as simple as a gathering around the proverbial water cooler that evolves into a joke fest that you later remember as the time you laughed harder than ever before. Or it could be as complex as a first meeting with a person who eventually becomes extremely prominent in your life.

Every single day is full of opportunities to become a day that you'll remember, a day with moments that add up to a lifetime of memories. The trick, of course, is to make yourself aware of that NOW, and to enjoy these moments while they are happening.

The chances are excellent that today... or tomorrow... or this week... will bring you many of these moments. Be open to them. Plan to enjoy this day, and have a great holiday!

Posted 7/25/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there.~ Yogi Berra 

FAST FORWARD!

The past … the present … the future. What if you could make changes in any one of them? Well, obviously, you can’t change the past. Try to change the present, and you’ll discover that it’s suddenly in the past, too. Try to change the future and … who knows?

But … your best bet is still on the future, even though your “best laid plans” may produce unexpected results. The past and the present are great tools for formulating your goals, and here’s a simple exercise to work on.

Before you start worrying about the future, consider how far you’ve already come. Look back five years – were you working hard toward your future, and did you accomplish your goals of five years ago 

If you could possibly have known then where you would be today, would it have thrilled you? Maybe you haven’t done as well as you expected, but I hope that this part of the exercise will show you just how far you’ve come already, and inspire you onward and upward.

Now turn your goggles forward and imagine your personal and business goals for five years from today. Chances are a lot will change between now and then. Your goals may or may not remain the same, but you’ve got to “go with the flow,” and avoid disappointment if you end up in a completely different place than you expected.

Now revise that list of goals, imagining you have just six months to live. Scary, yes, but you may suddenly realize that if you really had so little time to achieve your goal, you’d really bust your butt to get it done.

Finally, apply that “six month” mentality to your long-term goals. Determine what steps you can take this week to speed you toward your destination, and get packing!

Posted 7/18/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity." ~ from the Tao Te Ching by Lao-tsu

TAKE FIVE!

Today we’re pressured to do more, want more, get more. But really, it all leads to having less time, less energy, and less money. Putting more into work leaves less for private pursuits. Acquiring more valued possessions creates more debt and yet more work. 

“Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.” You don’t have to have it all and have it right now. Allow some room for development; give yourself space to grow. Don’t assume you’re accomplished because your bowl is already full. 

“Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.” Don’t overwork yourself. Focusing too hard and too long on any one thing dulls your senses and wears you out. If you’re at the top of your game, why would you need to do better? 

“Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.” Anyone obsessed with wealth probably doesn’t offer compassion or service to others. Those who always seek safety always fear risk. Do what you love, accept risks, and the rest will follow. 

“Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.” Do you work to satisfy yourself or others? Can you ever find happiness if your only concern is pleasing everyone else? Take pride in a job well done, then let it go. Your enthusiasm about your work will show, and anyone who doesn’t like it isn’t worth worrying about. 

“Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.” It’s easier to see where you’ve been than where you’re going. The journey to happiness begins by stepping back and releasing your endeavors. Let them go and free your mind for other pursuits. Good or bad, put it all behind you and look forward. 

Shun the fear of not having enough and not doing enough. Concentrate on one of these lines each day this week, and then have a fantastic weekend!

Posted 7/11/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Begin to be now . . . what you will be hereafter." ~ St. Jerome

TAKE THIS QUIZ!

Here's a short list of questions. Take time to answer them and today's message will be crystal clear. It needs no further explanation, so enjoy!

Name the five wealthiest people in the world. Name the last five Heisman Trophy winners. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are not second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one: 

List four teachers who aided your journey through school. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Easier? The lesson? The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

Posted 7/5/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY: 

"In the midst of our daily lives, we must find the juice to nourish our creative souls." ~ Sark 

TRAVELING AT WARP SPEED?

Familiar with the speed of light? According to science books, light travels at a speed of 186,000 miles per second. That's been common knowledge for years. Now, however, scientists have discovered in experiments that light may travel many times faster. In fact, tests seem to show that light may travel so fast that it arrives BEFORE it even leaves its source.

Business now travels at the speed of the Internet. "Fast Company" magazine reports up-to-the-nanosecond business techniques. You're connected . . . we're connected . . . we're all moving at warp speed!

Whoa! Stop! Put on the brakes. If you're feeling overwhelmed at the breakneck speed of your business . . . and your life . . . take heart. There's a solution, but you must make space for it. Some call it checking out. Others call it meditation. Some describe it as needing "some space" or "quiet time." The name is not important, but the practice is.

Into each day, schedule a time when you can be alone for 15 - 30 minutes. Mornings may be best when the house is quiet. Close your eyes and practice thinking absolutely nothing. If images, worries, or business schedules keep popping into your mind, practice making them go away. Some picture a blank movie or TV screen. If an image pops onto the screen, mentally turn off the TV and watch the screen go blank.

Once you reach this quiet peaceful state, you will notice that your daily family concerns and business challenges begin to resolve themselves. You can attract everything you need into your life by simply spending some time each day with yourself. It may feel awkward at first - thinking about nothing - but you will soon realize the potential of this powerful resource within you.

Go to your Day Planner now. Write in a block of time for each day this week to spend with your alter ego. Now - keep your appointment!

Posted 6/28/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking." ~ William James

YOU'RE THE PHOTOGRAPHER!

Most people, when they have their camera in hand, take snapshots of other people or things. The focus is on anything and everything outside themselves. What many don't realize is that they also have a super high-resolution camera in their minds.

The words of William James are not new. They've been said before in many forms, i.e. "As a man thinketh, so is he," or "You are what you think about all day long," or "A man is what his thoughts make of him."

By simply framing a picture in your mind of the person you would like to become, then acting like that person - you ARE that person! I believe it was Zig Ziglar who said it this way: "Fake it 'til you make it!" In other words, just by "acting" like the person you want to be, you actually become that person.

Likewise, we often create our own limitations by creating small pictures of who we are. In the words of Michelangelo (1475-1564), "The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." 

Why not take a closer look at the image you've created of yourself? Is it in focus? Does it portray the person you really want to be? Should you "zoom" in for a closer look, or go "wide angle" to broaden your horizons? 

Your life is whatever you imagine it to be. Create a masterpiece!

Posted 6/20/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken." ~ James Dent

THE DOG DAYS! 

The quote for today seems appropriate during these hazy summer days of sweltering heat and high grass. It's so easy to picture the perfect summer day and how we might just lie back in the hammock, or take the family to the park. Unfortunately, it's just about as easy for us to picture all the responsibilities we would be ignoring to take just such advantage of the day.

However, don't forget that your physical and mental well-being are also your responsibility, and if you ignore those, you simply won't be able to successfully fulfill your other obligations. Corita Kent said, "Love the moment and the energy of the moment will spread beyond all boundaries."

Take time out to do something really important - taking time out - even if it means "pretending" the lawn mower (computer, phone, pda) is broken. Step back, reevaluate your priorities, and let things fall back in line. "I could have had my presentation done ahead of schedule if we hadn't taken that Sunday drive," becomes "I gave the best presentation of my life because I really cleared my head on that Sunday drive."

There's room for everything you love in your life - your work, your family, your interests. An imbalance in any of these can have a negative impact on the others, so beware and be aware of your priorities. If it's time to devote attention to the (seemingly) "little things," so be it. Don't miss your golden opportunity for a beautiful moment because it seems so small you don't even perceive it.

Wonder at the sun shine, feel the breeze blow, listen to the birds sing, because "life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by day, in all the thousand small, uncaring ways." (Stephen Saint Vincent Benet)

Posted 6/13/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY: 

"A candle loses none of its light by lighting another candle."  ~ Unknown

SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE!

Ever notice how those around you sometimes keep their best ideas to themselves? Perhaps it's you who calls for information from a supplier about a hot new prospecting idea . . . and asks that the information be mailed to your home so others in the office won't see it. Even if the shoe fits, you're not alone and won't be condemned for not sharing.

On the other hand, have you noticed how those who are most successful rarely mind sharing and teaching others their best moves? It's like lighting a candle. Those who are comfortable with their own success rarely feel threatened if they light someone else's candle. They know they will lose none of their own shining light by igniting the candle of opportunity for someone else.

How is candle-lighting best accomplished? First, it takes an understanding of your own strengths. Perhaps you're blessed with a beautiful smile and a never-ending supply of good attitude. If so, the candle you light for others may be words of hope and encouragement. Maybe time management and efficiency in your work ethic are your forte. If so, be a teacher and mentor to those who are not so focused.

The list of possibilities is long, but you probably get the point. Give your strength to others with no thought of reward. Do it every day. The simple candle you carry, when shared, may turn another's life into a multi-colored roman candle of health, happiness . . . and success.

Posted 6/6/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."  ~ Lily Tomlin 

KEEPING (ON) TRACK!

You've heard it a million times, "Less is more!" If less really is better, then maybe it's time to start giving yourself, and even your family, an "allowance." This isn't about money, per se, but more about the other things that either drain our resources or over-complicate our lives.

This “allowance” idea got rolling in light of rising fuel prices. Instead of a monetary gas allowance for the family vehicle(s), consider enforcing a weekly "mileage" allowance. By combining trips and walking or biking whenever possible, there could be enough miles "left over" for the extra trip to the mall or concert hall.

This works with a host of activities, and improves life by simplifying it. How about a television budget? Are there really three hours of television worth viewing every night? One hour a night during the week would leave oodles of time to watch a favorite movie or sports event on the weekend. Or just hit the "Record" button, and watch when there's a better time.

The same could go for time spent surfing the net or sending funny emails. It's easy to convince ourselves that we're "working" when we're on the computer, but often we're just passing time that could be spent more industriously. Leave as much "real" computer work as possible at the office, and try to limit the time spent in front of the screen at home. There is such a thing as becoming too wired!

Likewise, if you're trying to lose weight, you've probably encountered the concept of the "food allowance," or calorie budget. Like everything else, you have to keep track of how much you're consuming, how much is left, and when to stop. Many of us are moving so fast these days that we neglect to tally our activities against our need for "down time." We don't realize that we've maxed out our time and need to stop.

Whether it's driving, watching tv, or net surfing, we could likely benefit from a reduction in any or all. We forget to put "Relax!" on our list of things to do. Work it into your "budget" by using less of your time "allowance" on other things. You don't have to stop completely; you just need to come into balance.

Enlighten yourself this week by keeping a journal of how much time you spend on all your various activities, and look for somewhere to make a cut. By next Monday, you'll be glad you did!

Posted 5/31/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

The test of courage comes when we are in the minority.  ~ Ralph W. Sockman

A LEAGUE OF YOUR OWN!

Have you sometimes felt like you were “out of your league” when reaching toward a lofty goal or competing against others for the “brass ring”? Imagine being a 5-foot-5-inch tall player in the National Basketball Association! Every time Earl Boykins of the Denver Nuggets walks onto the court, he hears jeers like, “Look at the little guy!” and, “Who decided to let the ball boy play?"

Although diminutive in size, Boykins always dreamed of playing in the NBA. Obviously, it took heaps of courage, determination and hard work to make that dream come true. In a year when many college players now recognized as “underachievers” were selected in the first and second rounds, Earl Boykins went undrafted.

But if you do not doubt yourself, you can either ignore the doubts of others or use their disbelief as a tool to motivate your achievement. When you set your goals a little bit higher than what you can reasonably accomplish, it’s surprising how far you can go.

Boykins started his professional career in Canada, and then began a series of short-term contracts with several NBA teams. While no one offered to keep him, he did not give up. In and out of season, he worked out, ran drills, and played every day. He explains, “There are no days off for me. I have to work longer and harder than everyone else to be successful.”

Then he set another goal and refused to waiver from it: He would only join a team that offered him a position as the top backup – setting a reasonable goal, but “kicking it up one notch.”

Now he plays for Denver, with his statistics and playing time on the rise. Another lesson from this? Be aware of the promise in others, recognize greatness in unexpected places, and seize the opportunity to nurture the success lying just below the surface.

Posted 5/23/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

 "Success is counted sweetest by those who never succeed."  ~ Emily Dickinson

HOW GREEN IS YOUR GRASS?

Have you been sowing the seeds of your success? Are you prepared for the harvest? Those who are jealous of other people's successes often have no idea of the consequences. Yes, that rose is sweet and fragrant, but watch out for the thorns! That which you would most value always comes at some cost. 

Picture the most successful person in your office. Now imagine the trappings of their accomplishments - more money means more worrying about money, achievement means maintaining and even increasing that level of achievement, working so hard means having less time for personal pursuits. All the while, the competition is always on their heels.

You should respect the achievements of your colleagues, but never be envious of them. Understand that problems conquered on the way to success are simply replaced by other problems. Max Beerbohm said, "I have known no man of genius who had not to pay, in some affliction or defect either physical or spiritual, for what the gods had given him." Success is a gift, but we know that nothing in life is truly free.

It's wrong to believe that "the grass is always greener" on the other side of the fence. Don't cheat yourself into accepting that "the best is yet to come." If that were really true, you would never reach that elusive day when everything is as you wish - it will always be "yet to come." If you just begin to make NOW the best time of your life, NOW will always be the best time of your life, because NOW is the only time in which you live!

Sure, give yourself goals and pursue them with all your heart and soul, if that's what truly makes you happy. We all need direction - the desire to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. But don't do it in the hopes of BECOMING happy. Happiness comes from enjoying what you have already achieved and are achieving right now.

Respect, don't envy, the accomplishments of your peers and your competitors, and understand that they too must find their own way to accept all the trappings of their success and find happiness. You too may soon learn their secret.

Posted 5/16/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY: 

"Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment." ~ Barry LePatner

PERFECT BACKWARD VISION! 

The reason there's so much humor in the "experience" we gain from our mistakes is that we all share in making errors - some of us learn, and some of us don't! That's where "good judgment" and "bad judgment" come in. When we make mistakes, and learn from them, we develop "good judgment." However, a lot of those mistakes that we have the opportunity to learn from are made because of our "bad judgment"!

Are some of us doomed to repeat history? What if we make the same mistake twice, but realize that we've done it? (You know, "Admitting you have a problem is half the solution"?) It's hard to "study" for the problems that life throws at us, but even if we had a lesson plan, we'd still wing it! As the last quote above illustrates, we have to actually go through the experience, hoping we don't fail, before we really learn the answer to how to handle the problem!

As Bobby McFerrin so popularly expressed it several years ago, "Don't worry, be happy!" If you're successful in your endeavor, congratulations! If you fail (or succeed with some degree of error), congratulations on your opportunity for further improvement! Chances are that life is not going to throw anything at you that you can't ultimately rise above, on your own or with some assistance.

Try a light-hearted approach to problem-solving. You really shouldn't treat this topic too seriously, or you'll get depressed and never try to accomplish anything out of fear of failure. So, it all boils down to this point: love your mistakes! Embrace your errors! They are one thing you can truly call your own!

Posted 5/9/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Ideas come from space. This may seem astonishing and impossible to believe, but it is true. Ideas come from out of space." ~ Thomas Edison

STRIKE IT RICH!

From the "Commercial and Financial Chronicle" (December 10, 1932) comes this quote from an article entitled "El Dorado":

"El Dorado, a country rich beyond all precedent in gold and jewels, lies at every man's door. Your bonanza lies under your feet. Your luck is ready at hand. All is within; nothing is without, though it often appears that men and peoples by dumb luck or avarice or force or overreaching strike upon the sea of prosperity. Man individually and collectively is entitled to life in all abundance. What do you seek? Pay the price and take it away. There is no limit to the supply. By a full and powerful imagination anything can be brought into concrete form."

Thomas Edison was a man of 10,000 ideas - a virtually endless supply. Grasping those ideas that he attributed as coming "from space," he created a long string of life-changing inventions. By his "full and powerful imagination" he brought the light bulb into its tangible form.

Inside each of us lies that same power - to see the future through our own imagination, and then cause it to happen by taking actions consistent with its manifestation. As author Wayne Dyer said in his book by the same name, "You'll see it when you believe it." By understanding the power of your own imagination, you are capable of creating your own "El Dorado," both in the physical and the spiritual plane.

Posted 5/2/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY

"You can't keep blaming yourself. Just blame yourself once and move on." ~ Homer Simpson of Fox Television's "The Simpsons" 

THE BLAME GAME!

Ever made a mistake, or failed at what you set out to do? Here’s some big news that you should already know: You’re not alone!

How many times have you kicked yourself in the pants for screwing up? Fessing up to your mistakes is a mark of maturity, self-confidence, and even progress. Whether admitting it to yourself or acknowledging your fault to others, you know that you simply must pick up from that point, regroup your efforts, and with any luck, not make the same mistake twice.

Cicero wrote, "Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error." We could add that only an idiot persists in his blame. Acknowledge your fault, but once is enough. How will you ever feel competent if you can’t manage occasional mistakes? You’re human, right? So is everybody else, and they will understand.

Don’t dwell on your mistakes, or you’re just making another mistake! You’ll garner more respect if you fail, admit your failure and then avoid another error. Anyone engaging in constant self-blame or over-willingness to accept blame is perceived as weak and ineffectual.

Remember that the winner is the one who made the next-to-last mistake! You and your competition will continually experience challenges that will be managed skillfully or be mishandled. Make sure that your last effort is carried out capably!

Think of your life as a series of games or matches in a long sports career, and consider Bill Vaughan’s words: "In the game of life, it's a good idea to have a few early losses, which relieves you of the pressure of trying to maintain an undefeated season." Nobody wants to lose, but nobody wants to be expected to win every time, either! Be realistic in your expectations, modest in your failures and gracious in your victories!

Posted 4/25/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY: 

"Every conquered temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before." ~ James Buckham

YOU'RE NOT DONE YET!

Ever noticed how great leaders often come from humble beginnings? From the devastating depths of silence and inability to speak, Helen Keller inspired the world once she had overcome great adversity.

Diagnosed with amyontrophic lateral sclerosis and standing before a full-house crowd in Yankee Stadium on July 4th 1939, Lou Gehrig proclaimed, "I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth! I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for." He spent the last two years of his life as Parole Commissioner for New York City, hoping to make a difference in the lives of young people in trouble.

Today, we use more contemporary quotes to explain the same concept. We say, "No pain - no gain!" or, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." No matter how we verbalize it, it is true that through adversity comes strength.

Think back to the toughest times you've faced during your life. Chances are you'll have to agree that you grew and became a better person for the experience. As for temptations, they are more easily given in to than conquered. Nevertheless, the value system to which you subscribe today probably evolved from temptations overcome. 

As Richard Bach put it in his wonderful book "Illusions," "There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts." Whether it be a physical or moral challenge you face, suffer if you must, but look also for its gift. And remember another Richard Bach quote, "Here is a test to find out whether your mission here on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't."

Posted 4/18/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Thought in the mind hath made us. What we are by thought was wrought and built. If a man's mind Hath evil thoughts, pain comes on him as comes The wheel the ox behind . . . . . . If one endure in purity of thought, joy follows him as his own shadow - sure." ~ James Allen, Ph.D.

GO TO THE GARDEN! 

The human mind is like a garden. It directly reflects the care and attention given to it. Consider two gardens side-by-side, in the same soil.

The first is bursting with color, gives off the most delicate of fragrances, is free of weeds, and forest green. New buds continually replace each other, and it's a delightful place to spend a sunny day.

Just a few feet away, you encounter a musty patch of stunted leaves, few blooms, parched soil, and insect infestation. The few plants remaining beg for a kind word and attention of any kind. They look sad from their days of inattention.

Why is there such a disparity between the two gardens? The first has a gardener, while the second has been totally ignored. And just as an untended garden will fail to prosper, so will an untended mind.

Imagine how easy it is for the mind to wither and atrophy when attention is not paid to its simplest needs. The mind can be so creative, unless it is fed passive TV drivel hour after hour. The mind can be so enthusiastic, unless powered by a body nourished by fast food, chips, sugar-filled cereal, and caffeine-packed soft drinks.

Just as a vibrant garden inspires, a well-tended mind can bring forth the best in others. It deserves our attention. It should be watered and fertilized with foods filled with the proper nutrients. It can be expanded greatly through the stimulation of education. It can remain viable only through the practice and application of solid principles. When the care given is incongruous with the results desired, the garden is a disaster. When the mind's actions do not match its stated objectives, chaos is the result. Our minds have the potential to bloom more abundantly than any garden. They deserve our utmost attention.

Posted 4/11/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Plan for gradual improvement, not spectacular leaps. A slow and steady stream of water will, in time, erode the hardest rock." ~ John Campbell, Ph.D.

BATTER UP!

It's exciting to attend a baseball game in any league and see the batter swing into a major home run. It really ramps up the fans, and pumps up the score. Hoorah for the home team! What batter wouldn't be excited running around the bases?

In most baseball seasons, however, there are many more base hits, more runs batted in, and more games won on singles and doubles. Oh sure, the crowd is more subdued, the accolades lower key, and the base-hit batters not as widely recognized. Nevertheless, at the end of the season it's the base hits that win the pennant.

Yet, as youngsters, we've all heard our parents and relatives talk about the day "their ship will come in." This is the mythical tale, beloved by grown-ups, that attributes wealth and financial independence to a single event - the sudden and unexpected arrival of a ship laden with gold and silver.

While awaiting the ship, many others are quietly hitting singles and doubles - getting an excellent education, saving and investing modest sums, quietly improving their service to employers and customers. They understand that each step forward, no matter the size of the step, will pay larger and larger dividends in the form of promotions, added income, and independence later on.

Solid growth in all areas of life is most often the result of carefully laid foundations on solid bedrock, rather than sudden, whimsical actions carried out without consistency, careful forethought, or vision. Before any ship can come in, it must first leave the harbor. It must have a destination, enough fuel, an excellent navigator, food and water, a map and compass, and a captain passionate about reaching the destination.

If you want to leave the harbor, repeat to yourself the words of William Earnest Henley from "Invictus" - "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul." Land ahoy!

Posted 4/4/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"What one has to do usually can be done." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

A BLUE RIBBON EFFORT!

Have you ever surprised yourself with a moment of creativity or lucidity, just when you were sure you didn’t have it in you? Last fall there was a garden club show, and one of the members who always performed well was considering not entering. She had just returned from vacation the day before to discover that unwelcome pests had ravished most everything in her garden.

Trying to back out, she explained that there was nothing in her yard but weeds, but a friend insisted, “I’m sure you’ll find something.” Lacking inspiration, she headed out to the yard with her tools and bucket anyway. She worked, recalling the words of her mother. “You will not always have the things you would like, but you can always make do with what you have.”

She discovered a vine with little blue flowers crawling up the trellis. She realized how pretty the bright yellow dandelions were. Wild daisies and pansies appeared in unexpected places, “sown” by bird droppings.

She headed back to the house and began her arrangement, hiding a coffee can pot inside a sewing basket. She then rushed over to meet the submission deadline. Glad that everyone else had already deposited their entries, she sneaked in her less-than-blue-ribbon quality candidate. She didn’t even stick around for the judging.

When she returned to pick up her contestant, she was shocked to discover a blue ribbon pinned to it, with a note that read, “This entry gets the blue ribbon because it meets all the test requirements for proportion, suitability of container to the contents and beauty, and also is very original.”

So she did “make do” with what she had, although she thought she didn’t have a chance. So remember that your own strength and creativity are always there, you just never know just how much you’ve got until you are called upon to put it to use!

Posted 3/28/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Houses reveal character." ~ Gilbert Highet

IF I WAS A CARPENTER!

A story, written by an unknown author goes like this: 

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife and family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by. 

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he would build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is YOUR house - my gift to you," he said.

Life is no different. Each of us is given lumber, a hammer, some nails, and a saw - but no instructions or blueprint for our lives. If we ignore a bent nail here, a split board there, and a wall out of plumb, we may find ourselves living in a ramshackle cabin where a beautiful home might have stood. Then we step back for a good look and recognize that we were the carpenter in charge.

Build your home with pride. Use the right tools. Get the education you need. Learn from a master. Take no shortcuts. Finish it with your finest touch. Remember - the plaque on the wall says, "Life is a do-it-yourself project."Posted 3/22/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world." ~ Arthur Schopenhauer 

HOW DO YOU SEE IT? 

Have you ever wondered why some people never seem to be satisfied? Or why others always have a smile on their face? In both cases, it often has absolutely nothing to do with external factors, but rather how people internalize what they perceive. 

A perfect case in point is the story about a gentleman who just moved to a small town where he had recently accepted a job. Pulling into a gas station, he casually asked the attendant, “I’ve never lived in this part of the country - what are the people like here?"

The attendant in return asked, “What are the people like where you came from?” To which the man replied, “Not very friendly. They can be quite rude.” The dismayed attendant commented, “I’m afraid that you’ll find the folks around here to be the same.”

While this little conversation was going on, another car pulled up and the driver called out, “I’m moving to this area soon for a new job. Is it nice here?” The attendant turned to the driver and again asked, “Is it nice where you come from?”

“Well, yeah, it’s great there. The people are nice, and I hated to leave,” the gentleman explained. To which the attendant answered, “Well, you’ll find the same to be true here!” What the attendant knew - that the first driver didn’t - is that we all see things as we expect to see them. Act positively and expect positive reactions. Act negatively, and . . . well, you get the picture.

If you’re feeling disappointed or unsatisfied, it may not be the result of external forces. It may be time to take a look at your own role in the dynamics of your life. Even if your vision is fine, you might need to correct your lenses!

Posted 3/14/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY

"Wise sayings often fall on barren ground, but a kind word is never thrown away." ~ Sir Arthur Helps

EASY AS 1-2-3!

Remember the old "Dirty Harry" movies? Clint Eastwood delivered the scowling expression and threatening phrase "Go ahead, make my day." The implication was that Harry's day would be complete if only the criminal facing the end of his gun barrel would just flinch and give Harry the excuse he needed to blow him away.

Okay, that doesn't sound like good fodder for an inspiring Coffee column, but it is a good pop culture reference to beg the question "What does it take to make YOUR day?" Or, even better, "What does it take to make someone else's day?"

You might think it challenging to find a way to really pick someone up, but remember that you don't necessarily have to be "down" to be lifted up. The truth is that we have absolutely no idea when we could be making a life-altering impact on somebody, with just a simple word or act of kindness.

Let someone you work with, out of the clear blue, how much you appreciate their contributions. Or tell them how much confidence you have in their work or their ability to complete an upcoming project with flying colors. You'll be amazed how their expression brightens, their pace suddenly picks up, and everything about them says, "You just made my day!"

We live in an increasingly fast-paced society, where more and better work - completed in less time - is simply expected. Make it clear at work and at home that while performance is expected, it is also nurtured and rewarded, if only with kind words and fair treatment. Soon you'll find everyone around you meeting and exceeding those expectations.

We know the old real estate adage: the three most important features of a property are "location, location, and location." In light of this week's topic, consider that Henry James said, "Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."

Posted 3/7/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY: 

"An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come." ~ Victor Hugo

BE IMPULSIVE! 

There seems to be a lot of anger in the world today. Forget the national and global squabbles, and just take a look closer to home - on your TV, in the schools, among fellow employees - right in your own backyard 

There's another attitude issue that could stand some help - disrespect. It seems like the days are gone when youngsters (even 20-somethings) value their elders, social customs, even the laws of the land. Common courtesy and politeness, even among adults, seems non-existent at times.

Want to be a changing force in your personal world? It's easy, costs nothing, and goes a long way towards making a meaningful contribution for the better. It's accomplished with an electrical impulse. Really. Consider your brain. Everything you think of, each idea you have, each action you take begins with an electrical impulse - a single thought. The thought required to cause change is called an "expectation."

Teachers use this thought daily in their classrooms. They EXPECT students to listen, to observe silence, to walk single-file, to not cut in line, and to learn. They EXPECT not to be challenged, disrespected, or ignored when they speak. The best among them EXPECT nothing less than excellence. Know what? Their students respond positively to those expectations.

The electrical impulse called "expectation" is simple to enact, yet more difficult to enforce. You have to really mean it. As a country, a people, even families, we've grown soft on expectations - and it shows. Fear of offending someone seems the rule. Why not be "impulsive" for the next 30 days with those you love by setting a new, higher standard of expectations. The results will both amaze and delight!

Posted 2/29/2016


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The man who most vividly realizes a difficulty is the man most likely to overcome it." ~ Joseph Farrell


BE A HERO!

Are you one of those people that other people always come to with their problems? It’s easy to become frustrated when your day is interrupted by a crisis you didn’t know existed until now. There are a couple of "attitude adjustments" that might help you cope when you don’t feel like rescuing someone again.

First, be aware of why you are the one being approached for help. In all likelihood, you’re a savior because you’re good at it! People don’t ask for help from those in whom they have no trust. So start out by realizing that you have a talent, one that others recognize, appreciate, and want to exploit!

Second, be aware that solving dilemmas is what makes you valuable and gives you a sense of worth. There’s nothing better than being necessary to give your ego a little boost! When someone approaches you with the crisis-du-jour, don’t shoot the messenger. This is your opportunity to shine up your armor!

Done properly, you shouldn’t have to drop everything to solve the problem immediately. You can gently accept the challenge by saying, “I’ll be able to devote time to this problem and focus on a solution once I’ve given this current project a little more treatment.” That should make a reasonable person quite happy, without your having to resent a lack of time to perform. Establishing some ground rules right away will prevent others from taking advantage of you and your capabilities.

Above all, patience and cooperation are virtues, on both sides of the table. Ben Ames Williams observed that “life is the acceptance of responsibilities or their evasion; it is a business of meeting obligations or avoiding them. To every man the choice is continually being offered, and by the manner of his choosing you may fairly measure him.” Choose to help, on your terms and in your own time.

Posted 2/22/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"One thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows slowly endures." ~ J.G. Hubbard

A SLICE OF LIFE!

We all understand that to achieve a goal, there is a progression of steps to take. Want a sandwich? Well, first you place a slice of bread on the plate, then you pile on the filling, then you dress it, and then you top it with the remaining slice of bread. Simple, right? But frustration results if you change the order. Even if you really love mustard, you wouldn’t ever start out by smearing mustard on the plate first!

However, when we visualize our own goals, we may see all the actions we need to take, but sometimes we want to try to skip some of those less exciting steps. But just like constructing the sandwich, futility results from rearranging the order of things.

You’ve got to take your goals, and your steps, one at a time, and you need to enjoy and appreciate your progress along the way. It’s been said that the first step of the journey is the most difficult, so it might help to imagine things in reverse order. First, visualize the end result, then trace backwards to eventually see how it all begins. 

Don’t worry that parts of the journey don’t seem as thrilling as the destination. The poet Gamaliel Bradford once wrote, “In great matters men show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small matters, as they are.” Your dreams may reveal your ambitions, but it is your smaller actions every day that define who you really are.

Assigning order, importance and appreciation to the progressive stages of your life will carry you swiftly and triumphantly toward your dreams. Satisfying, any way you slice it!

Posted 2/15/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"When you come to the edge of all the light you have known, and are about to step out into darkness, Faith is knowing one of two things will happen - there will be something to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly." ~ "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Richard Bach
 

LEARNING TO FLY!

In the 1930's and 1940's, there were numerous women's magazines. Ladies' Home Journal and Good Housekeeping were two of them. They showed women in the role of the day - housekeeping. They suggested the number of times per week the home should be dusted, scrubbed, organized, and otherwise kept spotless. They suggested ways to look good when the "man of the house" arrived home from a tough day at the office. In short, those magazines and their publishers set up an impossible regimen of expectations for their readers.

Many of us know women who have spent much of their lives trying to live up to the model housewife role prescribed by those magazines. The trouble is, many of them have (or had) dreams of their own, like wanting to write, or to travel, or to participate in the freedoms only men then enjoyed.

Today, any of us can achieve our dreams. All too often, however, we are still denied our destiny by the expectations set by others. We are bombarded by radio, TV, CD, DVD, and WWW messages that insist we follow their example, their guidelines, or their models. We allow our dreams to wither and die - waiting in line for their turn to blossom - never receiving the water of encouragement needed to grow and bloom.

What about your dreams? Need some encouragement to help you "think outside the box?" Begin by spending time with others who have already achieved their dreams. Leave your nay-sayer acquaintances behind. Read inspiring biographies. Pick up a copy of "Think & Grow Rich" or "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." If you haven't yet learned to "fly," pick up "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" or "Illusions" by Richard Bach.

As Jonathan says in the book, "Don't believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you'll see the way to fly.

Posted 2/8/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Cause change and lead; accept change and survive; resist change and die"   ~ Ray Norda

MANTRA FOR SUCCESS!

Today's inspiring quote puts a spin on the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. The question is, how do you handle change? Which of the above categories do you fit into?

Some people choose to handle change by creating it. These are the proactive visionaries who aren't afraid of change, who aren't afraid of the challenges that leaders face. Not everyone can participate in this category, and that's alright. Where would the leaders be without followers?

Followers are the survivors in the category of "accept change and survive." There may not be as much glory in just surviving, but those who can work with change exhibit a strength of their own. These are the positive reactionaries, people who make changes within to help them cope with the outside turmoil that they understand they cannot alter.

Finally, there are those who choose to participate in the final category - the negative reactionaries who suffer from ulcers, chronic fatigue, and headaches that result from banging their heads against the wall. While there is value in questioning the changes around you, there is little value in resisting the inevitable. There is little value in having short-sighted vision. There is little value in stagnation.

Some of us have the courage to cause change. Most of us find a way to accept change. A few of us always fight it, ultimately finding ourselves on the short end of the stick. Ally yourself with those successful people in the first two groups. Change is hard, change is challenging, change is the only thing that you always count on to build your strengths and improve your understanding. Take control of change and convince yourself that nothing grows without it. Repeat Ray Norda's words like a mantra every morning to remind yourself just how much power you have.

Posted 2/1/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"We're not out to change the world, just the way you talk to it." ~ from a Vonage television commercial "The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate." ~ Joseph Priestly


TALK IS CHEAP!

How ironic that today’s “inspiration” comes from a marketing campaign for a communications company. It’s touted that technology saves you time and helps you to communicate better. But isn’t it more apparent that technology now leaves us with so little time that we barely have occasion to properly interact with others?

Anything that “saves time” is simply making more time that you can then devote to some other pursuit. Dishwashers and clothes dryers were supposed to be modern time- and effort-reducing marvels, but did people just sit around and relax after the cleaning was done? No, because all the “extra time” created by technology has only served to increase the hectic pace of our lives, allowing us to do more and more in less and less time.

What about cell phones and email? Promoted as easy and inexpensive ways to communicate, they have ultimately diminished the personal aspect of communication. Ever gotten a phone call from someone who was killing time in line at the grocery store, or even worse, in traffic? Critical for emergencies and conducting business, cell phones otherwise give us an excuse for quick calls on the run, before the battery dies or the signal drops out (or another calls beeps in).

Email is another beast altogether, having reduced our language skills to nothing more than “emoticons” and run-on sentences without capitalization. Email has replaced the answering machine as the new way to ignore communication. The sender feels good because at least they made an effort to get in touch, but the recipient is in the privileged position of responding whenever they wish.

Ideally, we would all be able to sit down at home with undivided attention and give someone an hour of quality time on the phone. Or perhaps sit down with pen and paper and actually handwrite a personal letter to a friend or relative who lives at some distance. But really, who has the time?

Posted 1/25/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY: 

"We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us." ~ Marcel Proust
 

HOW'S ON MY HONOR . . . !

In George Classon's classic "The Boy Scouts have long espoused the same set of principles. It goes like this: "A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent." How simple life could be if we all practiced just that short list. Each in itself denotes a wonderful trait. When put into action, all can make the world a better place.

So, what happens between the age of scouting and age 30, 50, or 75? How is it that we turn from being a friendly 12-year-old to a suspicious, stand-offish adult? How do we turn the corner from being obedient to our elders to challenging the authority of our employers or government? Why won't we open the door for someone who can't? Did simple courtesy die with our youth?

Perhaps experience has taught us that others are not always friendly, courteous and kind. "Turn-about is fair play," we may respond. Why should we be thrifty, taking care to save for our future, when everyone around us has "maxed out" their credit cards? Reverence for all we know to be of value seems to have become the victim of political correctness. Why should we be any different?

The greatness of our country was built on the solid rock of "principles." The soft, easy life of an affluent society may be our undoing. Our forefathers had it tough. Most of us living today had a cake-walk, comparatively speaking. Our forebearers had to live their principles - or face the defeat of poverty, ill-health, and despair.

Our children can bring us back if only we will take the time to teach them those simple principles. More than teaching, we might help them practice those principles in their daily lives until habit makes them permanent. Begin while they are still playing in the sandbox. They will grow soon enough into men and women who live principle-centered lives!

Posted 1/19/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"If thou wouldst keep money, save money; if thou wouldst reap money, sow money."~ Thomas Fuller
 

HOW'S THE FAMILY PURSE?

In George Classon's classic "The Richest Man In Babylon," he urges readers to "set your purse to fattening." His other advice? Pay off your debts - live debt-free. With those two simple bits of advice, he lays out a wealth of financial advice guaranteed to keep the wolf away from the front door - forever.

He has the audacity to suggest that a part of all you earn is yours to keep. Put $100 a month into your "purse" beginning at age 20. Invest it at 10%. At age 65, you will have a purse filled to the brim with $1,048,000. How difficult is it to convince yourself to put away $100 each month?

Poverty is not our fear. It is the insecurity of being vulnerable that we fear - of not being able to meet our obligations. The "fat purse" does not pay our bills. The amount we earn over and above the part "that is ours to keep" does that. The part we keep - our "fattening purse" - is what gives us the confidence that we are okay.

By the way, according to "The Millionaire Next Door," the "haves" spend twice as much time planning their financial success as the "have nots." Forget setting aside $100 a month, the "haves" set aside up to 40% of their pre-tax income for fattening their purse. That also means they live on just 60%. The "have-nots" are hyper-credit users who do no budgeting whatsoever. 

Want to set your purse to fattening? Want to give your children a heads-up on being financially independent? Pick up a copy of Suze Orman's best-seller "The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom". More importantly - put her financial roadmap to work. Don't worry - be happy!

Posted 1/11/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend seven sharpening my axe."~ Abraham Lincoln
 

HOW MANY TREES IN '16?

OK, OK, - you've heard all the New Year Resolution stuff before. I'll try to steer clear of that topic today.

Going back to "Honest Abe's" quote, how many trees do you plan to chop down in 2016? 24? 48? 96? 300? The higher you plan to go, the sharper your axe had better be. What's more, most axe blades lose their edge after only a few trees. That means it will be necessary to step back from the hard work of chopping, and hone the blade numerous times throughout the year.

Here are a few suggestions to keep your "edge" in 2016: Planning is a necessary first step. If you don't know how many trees you want to chop, how will you know when you're finished? Will you be chopping small, medium or large trees? Apple, maple or pine? Will you take long powerful swings, or just hack away 'till they fall? Make some important chopping decisions before you begin.

Education is the next step. It comes in many forms, like books, recordings, videos, seminars, professional courses, and so on. Vary your approach to education to avoid boredom. Seminars and courses are an excellent way to boost your attitude by sharing ideas and strategies with colleagues and associates.

A positive attitude is critical too. It is the magnet that brings trees to your doorstep. Recreation is vital to maintaining that attitude. When you find yourself working 60 and 70-hour weeks, you'll also notice your energy level and attitude begin to dull very quickly. Learn to schedule time off for yourself and family members. Choose activities that leave no room for thoughts about work. You'll notice an immediate improvement in your tree chopping. Soon you'll be off to a flying start with a very sharp axe!

Best wishes for the New Year!

Posted 1/5/2016

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work."~ Aristotle

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING?

Aristotle’s quote seems pretty straightforward: If you like what you're doing, chances are you'll do it pretty well, and will find your work satisfying.

But what about the dozens of smaller jobs that we do on a regular basis and do not particularly enjoy - chores we consider robberies of time, but necessary? You know, housecleaning or mowing the lawn or grocery shopping or washing the car.

The fact is that most of us have too much on our "To Do" lists, and much of our “free time” is spent on what we consider menial work that we often begin to actually resent. Viewed objectively, however, how many of the items on your list of chores have self-imposed deadlines and subjective requirements?

Are you setting standards that are unnecessarily high or that are interfering with your enjoyment of time with your family and friends? When you lament "having no time," stop and consider to what extent that is due to your own personal sense of priorities.

You might re-evaluate what is truly essential. Chances are that duties to which you're giving up your entire Saturday are not as important to others as having time to spend with you. After all, how many of us are introduced, "This is Joe - he really keeps his lawn looking great...” or, “This is Mary - she's a wonderful housekeeper…"? How many of our children tell their friends, "You'll really like my mom and dad. They keep all the windows in our house clean…"?

Put down the car wax and the mop and get out and enjoy some time with friends or family, or - here’s a novelty - just yourself. It’s quite likely that the sun will still rise the next day, and your To Do list will wait for you!

Posted 12/21/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

 "Begin to be now what you will be hereafter." ~ St. Jerome
 
GIVE YOURSELF A PRESENT!

Regardless of who you have been in the past - why not give yourself a "present"? Each of us experiences regret from time to time over what we have done - or left undone - in the past. Perhaps our transgressions were great - or just seemed so in our heart.
 
To become a different person in the future, St. Jerome suggests that you must "begin to be" that person now. If your career is overwhelming you, begging to be tamed, begin now to untangle it. Begin today to simplify your activities.
 
If you would like to be more caring, begin today by complimenting someone. Want to be more understanding? Listen carefully to one you love - today. Want greater financial independence? Analyze your income and your expenses, then earn more and live on less - beginning today.
 
Nothing happens until you "begin to be." Interestingly, however, the moment you BEGIN, you actually ARE the person you desire to be, provided you continue to be. The moment you change anything in your life, the past is over, forever.
 
Want a new beginning in your life? Don't wait for some earth-shattering, life-changing event to get your attention. Get started today!

 

Posted 12/14/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Half the failures in life arise from pulling in one's horse as he is leaping." - J.C. and A.W. Hare
 
GIVE SUCCESS A CHANCE!
 
Have you ever tried to accomplish something, but given up before your plan or actions have come to fruition? Maybe you're just trying to organize a huge stack of paperwork, or perhaps you're trying to build up your database of leads or increase your sales by a certain percentage within a certain amount of time.
 
Of course, you feel a degree of frustration if you don't achieve the results you were hoping for. Frustration points you in one of two directions: either you'll be defeated, or you'll be pushed to try even harder to succeed. The surest way to guarantee failure is to quit before you've given enough time or effort to get the job done.
 
Also consider by whose standards you are measuring your success. Are you trying to live up to someone else's unreasonable expectations or goals? Then it might be time to approach that boss or spouse or instructor and let them know that your progress is guaranteed, but perhaps not on the established schedule. Bill Cosby once said, "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
 
Chances are that whatever goals you've set for yourself, you can achieve them, but setting reasonable goals in the first place will go a long way toward success. Maybe you should "pull in your horse" BEFORE he leaps if you feel he's not going to make it over the hurdle. Also remember that it's your effort to achieve that is ultimately the most important part of that success (kind of like the old adage about the journey vs. the destination). Don't forget the words of Lloyd Jones, who said, "The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed."

Success can be a relative term and depends upon the perspective of yourself and others. Do whatever you can to accomplish your goals or the goals that others set before you, but regardless of the outcome, you should ultimately be satisfied with the work you've done.

Posted 12/7/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Who exactly do you want to be?  What kind of person do you want to be?  What are your personal ideals?  Whom do you admire?  What are their special traits that you would make your own?

 It's time to stop being vague.  If you wish to be an extraordinary person, if you wish to be wise, then you should explicitly identify the kind of person you aspire to become." - Epictetus

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO TODAY?

Microsoft uses that slogan to convince you that with their software you can head in any direction you please.  Earl Nightingale, one of the great motivational speakers, said it better.  "Imagine that you are the captain of a great ocean-going vessel," he suggests.  "Before even leaving the harbor, you lay out plans for your voyage.  Using maps, you choose a destination, then employ your navigational skills to arrive safely".  

"Without a chosen destination and a map to help you arrive," he continues, "you are akin to a ship without a rudder.  If you get out of the harbor at all, you'll probably end up a derelict on some deserted beach."

On this verge of the year 2011, I hope you've decided on a destination for the year and have looked carefully at the map that will take you there.  A word of caution is in order.  Be careful not to choose too many destinations, meaning don't set too many goals for the year.  Including more than a handful of worthy objectives can leave you with maps and navigational instruments strewn all over your desk - resulting in chaos, lack of focus, and questionable navigation.

It's better to have four clearly defined targets for the year, accompanied by a masterful plan for their achievement, than to have only a list of 25 hoped-for achievements.  Anthony Robbins suggests the following agenda for achieving your most worthy objectives.

First, write down a "dream inventory" - a list of everything you want to accomplish in 2011.  Next choose the four most important major goals.  For each of the four make a list of the benefits you will enjoy when you achieve them.  Then list all the resources you currently possess which would be of benefit to achieving your major goals, i.e. experience, knowledge, skills, positive attitude, friendliness, perseverance, etc.

Continue by listing the three most successful times in your life.  Under each, write down a description of how you felt and acted during those times, i.e. felt invincible, presented a professional image, smiled a lot, wasn't afraid to try a new approach, etc.  Next write down the type person you would have to be to achieve your goals, i.e. must be prepared for presentations, must always have confidence, must put others' needs first, must organize my time, etc.  Follow this with a list of "What prevents me from achieving this right now."  Write down your fears, your lack of action, etc.

Finally, write down the steps you must take to achieve each of the four major goals.  This would be a list of each and every task that must be completed in order to produce the maximum results.  By breaking down the objective into individual steps, it becomes more manageable.

Notice that achieving a major goal requires major planning.  Have you already done your homework and feel completely prepared?  Hopefully so.  If not, take the first week of the coming new year to build a plan for your future.  It's well worth the effort!

Posted 11/30/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The greatest pleasure I have known is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident." ~ Charles Lamb (1775-1834)
 

GIVE IT AWAY!

Here's a "feel good" idea that pays big dividends to both giver and receiver: "Give something away every day!"

We all get caught up in our day-to-day routines and responsibilities. Between family and home, work and leisure, our daily schedules are usually packed with the things we do for ourselves. Managing to squeeze in a little time for others is often out of the question.

In the big picture, however, it is not what we do for ourselves but for others that really matters in life. We're not just talking about those who are "less fortunate" in this context. The world of "others" includes family members, associates, the elderly, those experiencing illness, those in our geographical, social, faith community, or the less fortunate.

So . . . what do you give away? Are we talking big money to charities or an endowment to the local university? Nope! What you give away is up to you. It might just be your time - something as simple as taking your grandchild for a walk, offering to take an aging neighbor grocery shopping, or donating a Saturday to Habitat for Humanity. On days when you lack ideas, just give away a smile, a compliment, or some encouragement.

Maybe you give away some of your material possessions. That might include a piece of furniture, an antique, a piece of family heirloom jewelry, or the like-new clothing in your closet that never fit right. Why not donate some of the kids' toys to a day-care center?

Whatever you decide to give away, do it quietly - and anonymously when possible. Make it a habit. It will bring you the special joy of knowing you've made a difference.

Posted 11/23/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The greatest pleasure I have known is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident." ~ Charles Lamb (1775-1834)
 

GIVE IT AWAY!

Here's a "feel good" idea that pays big dividends to both giver and receiver: "Give something away every day!"

We all get caught up in our day-to-day routines and responsibilities. Between family and home, work and leisure, our daily schedules are usually packed with the things we do for ourselves. Managing to squeeze in a little time for others is often out of the question.

In the big picture, however, it is not what we do for ourselves but for others that really matters in life. We're not just talking about those who are "less fortunate" in this context. The world of "others" includes family members, associates, the elderly, those experiencing illness, those in our geographical, social, faith community, or the less fortunate.

So . . . what do you give away? Are we talking big money to charities or an endowment to the local university? Nope! What you give away is up to you. It might just be your time - something as simple as taking your grandchild for a walk, offering to take an aging neighbor grocery shopping, or donating a Saturday to Habitat for Humanity. On days when you lack ideas, just give away a smile, a compliment, or some encouragement. 

Maybe you give away some of your material possessions. That might include a piece of furniture, an antique, a piece of family heirloom jewelry, or the like-new clothing in your closet that never fit right. Why not donate some of the kids' toys to a day-care center?

Whatever you decide to give away, do it quietly - and anonymously when possible. Make it a habit. It will bring you the special joy of knowing you've made a difference.

Posted 11/16/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Opportunities are seldom labeled." ~ John A. Shedd
 

FILL IN THE BLANK! 

From "Wellsprings of Wisdom" by Ralph Woods comes this story: 

A successful businessman was invited to address a group of young executives on the subject of opportunities. He began his talk by tacking to the wall a big sheet of white paper and placing a black dot in the middle of the sheet. "What do you see?" he asked, pointing to the paper on the wall. "A black spot," called out everyone in the audience. "Yes, I see a black dot too," replied the speaker, "but none of you saw the much greater expanse of white. This is the point of my talk on opportunities."

While it is so easy to focus on the "black dots" - the immediate tasks that face us each day - how often do you grasp the opportunities that no one else notices in the white space? Don't answer that you haven't the time to notice the white space. Do you ever find yourself daydreaming? When you do, you're visiting that white space. The question is: Do you recognize your ability to bring those daydreams to fruition?

Look around you. Do you find yourself envying what others accomplish? Perhaps you can learn from their example. All they have done is to act on their dreams - to recognize the value of their white space and put it into motion.

So - what's missing in your life? Why not try filling in the blanks - the white spaces - with the achievement of your dreams? Maybe a legal pad and pencil can help. Try making a list of every dream you've ever had. Write them all down, all of them. When you finish, place an asterisk next to the five you would most like to accomplish or experience.

Finally, make those five items the "black dots" upon which you will focus until completed. Once identified, it becomes much easier to concentrate your attention on them. Opportunity knocks!

Posted 11/9/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Temperance in all things!"  ~ Harry S. Truman
 

Extreme or Temperate?

You can see it on TV almost every day - extreme football, extreme wrestling, extreme police chases, extreme everything. The TV networks seem to be competing to capture our attention with one-upsmanship to the extreme.

If you're in your 20's to mid 30's, doing things to the extreme may be attractive to you. If you're 35-45, you may be starting to question whether it's necessary to carry things quite so far. If you're over 45, your age of wisdom may have set in - leading you in another direction - towards temperance. The good news is that it's beneficial at any age.

Recently on TV, there was an old interview with Harry Truman at the age of 77. The interviewer David Susskind asked, "To what do you attribute your energy and vitality at age 77?" Truman shot back with noticeable conviction, "Temperance in all things. I take plenty of rest, sleep well at night, and eat the right foods. That leaves me ready to face the challenges of being president."

What a simple word - "temperance." Webster defines it as "moderation in action or thought; restraint; marked by moderation, as in keeping within limits." It does not mean total abstinence or prohibition of action. It is merely a concept that takes into account reasonable, self-imposed limits.

Some see temperance as "clean living." By whatever name, it can bring peace, tranquility, good health, high self-esteem, satisfaction, and financial freedom. What are your self-imposed limits?

Posted 11/3/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

 "You were born an original. Don't die a copy." ~ John Mason 

DUPLICATE YOURSELF!

Watch young children on the playground and you will notice them trying to duplicate each other. One hangs upside down on the monkey bars, and soon everyone is doing the same. Check out a pre-teen with a punky new hair-do, or a new style of "radical" footwear, and soon their friends are following suit.

It continues in high school too, with "tricked out" hot cars and cell phones. So . . . is it any wonder that we attempt to duplicate each other as adults as well? We look at our desk mate's approach to getting new business, then we do the same - regardless of the fact that said desk mate is getting no results.

Is there an alternative to this senseless copy-cat approach to life? Yes - but making the change may not be so easy. You begin by looking inside rather than outside. With all the distractions competing for your attention, this may be the most difficult step. Nevertheless, take a look inside to determine your best talents and skills. Ask yourself, "What do I do well? What are my strengths? What do I enjoy doing most?"

Next, write yourself a plan that incorporates your answers into a personal action plan. Remember, you were born an original, so put that originality to work. To help the plan work, avoid distractions from those who question your new direction, and learn to "duplicate yourself".

To avoid distractions, consider moving your desk, working from a home office, or avoiding the social scene at your office. Focus your time and attention on achieving your new-found objectives. To duplicate yourself, hire assistants to prepare direct mail or update your website. Avoid all tasks that you can hire someone else to do.

In short, live and act the part of the original you really are!

Posted 10/26/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it comes softly and sits on your shoulder." ~ Anonymous

DRAW YOUR OWN MAP!

Imagine you've planned the trip of your dreams - say from North Carolina to Colorado. You've charted all the roads, have a fist full of maps just in case, and have your priorities straight in your mind. You get started on a beautiful sunny day, and begin enjoying the ride.

Late in the day, as you approach the Mississippi River, you drive straight into a bank of heavy fog. You turn on your lights, but still cannot see 10 feet ahead. Just because the highway is out of sight doesn't mean you've lost your way. Continuing on the path you've set for yourself, you soon break out into the sunshine again - still headed in the direction of your dreams.

In perspective, consider that the trip represents your life's goal - your first priority. Steering your vehicle down the highway hour by hour represents your efforts to reach your goal. The fog bank illustrates the momentary interruptions and obstacles encountered on your journey.

As day #2 begins, you find that you've come to an unexpected intersection - one that's not on your map. Confused, you pull over and examine the map closely. Stay to the right and you'll end up in Colorado. Take a left and you may arrive at an unanticipated, yet equally wonderful destination.

OK, let's cut to the chase! Sometimes your priorities change, don't they? Just as you think your goal is in sight, a new opportunity arises. Remember the saying that "life is a journey - not a destination"? What's exciting is that YOU are in control of the steering wheel, and whatever destination you choose is OK - so long as it's YOU who has made the choice.

Happy motoring!

Posted 10/19/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Things themselves don't hurt or hinder us.
Things simply are what they are.
How we view these things is another matter.
People think what they will think; it is of no concern to us." ~ Epictetus

DON'T LISTEN!

Someone once said, "When I was in my twenties, I worried about what others thought of me. When I was in my forties, I didn't care what they thought of me, and when I was in my sixties, I realized they weren't thinking about me at all." Who hasn't had a parent or friend tell us "What will people think?"

How easy it is to let the influence of others govern our actions. By listening to others, then carrying out our lives to the tune they wish us to play, we are but puppets. One of "Aesop's Fables" addressed the same issue.

It told of an old man, a boy, and a donkey making their way down a hill. As the boy rode, while the old man led the donkey, they overheard a neighbor comment about the shame of making the old man walk. The next turn in the road saw both man and boy astride the donkey, and the next passer-by shook his head at the shame of putting such a load on the poor donkey. By the time the two reached the final turn in the road, they were seen carrying the donkey on a pole.

The message, of course, was that we should not live our lives to satisfy the expectations of others. It is up to us to set a clear direction for our own lives, and then follow that path to the exclusion of others.

It's really about choices, isn't it? We get to make our own choices in life. When we fail to do so, we have still made a choice - that being to let others make our choices for us. As the final days of the year approach, it's an excellent time to let your vision take hold, to set a bold new direction for your life in the coming year. Make some choices - no matter what "they" think!

Posted 10/12/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Strength of numbers is the delight of the timid. The Valiant in spirit glory in fighting alone." ~ Ghandi

COMMITTEE COMFORT!

It has been said that "a camel is a horse created by a committee." You've probably witnessed the process yourself. You put any twelve decision-makers in a room together, and they can't seem to make a decision at all. Worse yet, they create something that is comfortable to all members - a camel of their own making.

Ghandi says numbers are the "delight of the timid." At some time or another, we all want the comfort of being surrounded by others with interests common to us. Maybe it's on sales meeting day when the discussion turns into a gripe session. Maybe it's in the break room, around the proverbial "water cooler," or in a training class we've just taken. Wherever the group meets, the results are often the same - a lack of action backed up by all the reasons that justify the inaction.

Ghandi also says the glory is "in fighting alone." Look around. Do you see one or two individuals who spend little of their time with the group? Sometimes called "loners," these are usually also the over-achievers, the top producers in life and business. They know where they're going and they don't need your approval to do it. The committee says they aren't "team players."

Being human, it is certainly normal to seek the comfort of others. In the case of those few individuals described as "the Valiant in spirit," however, their strength comes from their accomplishments. In each of us, there is also that "Valiant" spirit - the part of us that wants to strike out on our own. You can do that by resigning from the committees of your life. Elect yourself President and Chairman of the Board of your own future - and make it unanimous!

Posted 10/6/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for" ~ William Shedd

CAST OFF YOUR SAFETY NET!

Taken any chances lately? Have you had a strong desire or some sense of wanderlust, but feared the consequences, or simply thought better of it? Just remember the old adage, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Of course we all desire a sense of security, and we don't relish the idea of courting danger. But look back on some of your most satisfying accomplishments - didn't they result from taking action that you or others first thought might be risky?

If we always stick to the path most traveled, we'll never discover anything new about our world or ourselves. Fearing the unknown will never allow us to understand it. Only by coming to understand the risks we might take can we develop the confidence and the courage necessary to overcome the dangers associated with trying to achieve our imaginative goals.

Don't allow yourself to be numbered among those who look back and wonder, "What if . . ." A well-developed plan of action and some caution in its execution are advisable, but by all means move forward! Staying where you are and following the status quo is easy and safe, but it's likely that your dreams go way beyond where you are now. Don't let those dreams remain unrealized because you're afraid of the hazards involved in making them come true.

Like the ship in the harbor, you were built for greater things. It is the very meaning of life to struggle for what we most want and push the boundaries of our understanding, thereby improving the quality of our life and even of those around us.

Finally, consider the words of Brooks Atkinson, who said, "This nation was built by men who took risks - pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, business men who were not afraid of failure, scientists who were not afraid of the truth, thinkers who were not afraid of progress, dreamers who were not afraid of action."

Posted 9/28/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor sprits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." ~ Theodore Roosevelt

BETTER TO ATTEMPT AND FAIL...

In an old "Peanuts" cartoon, Sally is making a list while Charlie Brown looks on. Sally says, "I'm making a list of all the things I've learned in life..." In the next panel she continues with, "Well, actually, I'm making two lists." Charlie asks, "Why is one list longer than the other?" Holding up the much longer list, Sally explains, "These are the things I've learned the hard way!"

It's easy to chuckle a little at the part about "learning things the hard way," isn't it? We've all done that. There's really a more revealing message though in this simple cartoon.

The short list of things we've learned generally contains lessons that required no effort, or lessons we learned passively, while just listening. For instance, we learned simple courtesies from our first grade teacher. We learned historical names and dates from our history teacher. We learned to tie knots from our scout leader. Our parents taught us to share. The list goes on.

The important list, the one that's much longer, contains the things we've learned from experience. These lessons are endless, and no matter how trifling the lesson, we learned one every time we took action. We dared to try a two-wheel bicycle and crashed - several times. We tried out for the school play - and made fools of ourselves in front of friends.

By attempting - at the possible expense of our pride, our self-esteem, or our physical well-being - we either succeeded or failed (and learned a lesson). It is our actions that produce results and teach us those valuable lessons. Teddy Roosevelt said it right: "Far better to dare mighty things..."

Posted 9/21/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Competition will always place your life in the hands of others, while initiative gives you the freedom to choose your own destiny." ~ Willard & Marguerite Beecher

BEAT THE OTHER GUYS!

From childhood we learn to win by competing. If one marble player wins, the other loses. If our football team wins, the opposition loses. If we earn top honors for the greatest sales volume or number of transactions, our fellow associates don't. We are taught to be competitive - and we learn the lesson well.

In being competitive, however, we must always measure our success in relation to others. First we choose the leader whom we must surpass. Our objective is to exceed the performance of that individual - the current Number One. Then, when we become the leader, we live in constant fear of having our performance exceeded by those striving from below to surpass us.

By always competing, then, we are not free to focus on doing our very best. Everything we do is related to what others have done or may do. A refreshing alternative is to put initiative to work. You freely choose your own destiny, then work to achieve it - totally oblivious to what others around you are doing.

Initiative begins with a delightful vision of yourself achieving what you think is important. Followed up with action, you achieve not only your objectives, but also the thrill and satisfaction of knowing you are in charge!

Posted 9/14/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." ~ Goethe

BE ALL THAT THEY CAN BE?

On a recent A&E Biography segment, Oprah Winfrey was being interviewed. She was asked whether she considered all the competing talk shows to be a threat to her own daytime show. She answered with a personal story about running in a marathon.

It seems Oprah had always had a dream of running in a marathon. She trained for two years to get ready, and she ran her marathon. Oprah explained that, to her, competition was like that marathon. As long as she was hitting her stride with her goal of winning in clear focus, there was no time to consider the competition. She added that just turning her head backward to see how close competing runners were to her position was enough to rob her of energy needed to win the race.

Oprah's view of the competition brought to mind the U.S. Army recruiting slogan: "Be all that you can be!" Note that it doesn't say, "Be all that THEY can be!" Even when your competition has a recognizable face, why would you want to be them? If you want to improve yourself, speed up your achievements, or earn more money, why not just better your own time? Comparing yourself to others is a waste of precious time and energy.

Realizing your dreams requires a roadmap. First, you decide on a destination - your dream. Next, you choose a route. For Oprah, that involved hiring a personal trainer, improving her aerobic capacity, and adding strength training to her daily regimen. It also helps to identify some stops or landmarks along the way to help you measure your progress. Finally, you apply all your energy to running the race - and achieving your dream.

Oprah's dream was to run a marathon. What's yours?

Posted 9/8/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Take your life in your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame." ~ Erica Jong

BAN THE BLAME!

So . . . which brochure have you been reading? Maybe it's the one that promises "clear sailing" or " "The dog ate my homework." Teachers hear that one every week. "Jimmy made me do it!" Parents hear that one often, too. Fast-forward a few years to the college student with bad grades, and you hear, "The professor doesn't like me." Then, before we know it, we're all grown up. Now we hear, "My manager didn't give me enough time to complete the project," and, "She doesn't understand me," or, "The customer wasn't honest with me, so I couldn't close the sale."

Where do these fabrications of blame originate? They probably begin in our childhood imagination - and that's also where they should stop. Blaming comes easy since we tend to do it when the person blamed isn't around. Who's going to dispute our blame claim?

Take a moment to re-read the first part of today's quote: "Take your life in your own hands . . ." What a breath of fresh air emerges from that phrase. By accepting responsibility for our life and all its actions, we no longer need to alienate those around us by blaming. We can live a no-excuses life.

We either accept the low classroom grade without complaint - after all, we earned it - or we change our approach to homework the next time. We simply allot enough time to complete our manager's special project on deadline, or be willing to be employed at a lower level on the food chain. We invest ourselves more deeply in our personal relationships, or accept a less-than-fulfilling bond with those we love.

As quoted before, "All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts." If you're tired of perpetually being on the defensive, ban blame from your life - forever. It's a wonderful way to live stress-free!

Posted 8/31/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Life is not always what the brochure promises." ~ Amb Alon Pinkas

AWAKE THE SLEEPING GIANT!

So . . . which brochure have you been reading? Maybe it's the one that promises "clear sailing" or "romantic sunsets" or "excitement guaranteed!" Maybe you're into the financial brochures that read "no money down" or "financial freedom in 30 days" or "sell a million dollars a month without leaving home."

For many years now, the brochures of our lives have promised and delivered success, satisfaction, and wealth. It's been a good run. There's another brochure many of us have signed onto - "for better or for worse." Notice that the "for better" comes first, and so it has been for a long time.

Nevertheless, our country experiences cycles, as do our lives. Few of us living today have ever experienced a serious "for worse" part of the national cycle. Yet, it has been those periods in the history of our country that have brought out the best in us. The Great Depression of the thirties was the catalyst for the strong work ethic of the baby boomers. Two world wars taught us to value our freedom.

So, maybe life isn't always "what the brochure promises." If we're entering one of those periods when we are to be tested, so be it. We are a resilient people. While we may have been dozing at the internal security wheel, lulled by the smooth purring of our national economic engine, we are also able to awaken in an instant. Our purpose and principles can quickly be brought to full throttle.

No matter the threat, we are a people united by the brochure's great promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - ready, willing, and able to serve. Be alert and be of service!

Posted 8/24/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"When people are highly motivated, it's easy to accomplish the impossible. And when they're not, it's impossible to accomplish the easy." ~ Bob Collings (Cited in BITS & PIECES)

ASK WHY?

Beginning in the late '60s, a revolution of sorts began in this country. It was a revolution that was irreverent at times, almost always anti-establishment, and it turned many traditional social customs upside-down.

How did it begin? The young, many of college-student age, began to ask WHY? They challenged everything by asking a simple question - WHY? Why must it be so? Why is this or that the "right" way? Why can't I try a new approach? Everything that had been taken for granted by the establishment up to that time was up for grabs.

Voila! The country changed and will never be the same. Was the change all for the good? Hardly. Families suffered. The security blanket of social customs was yanked away. Collectively, we had to find a new direction, new meaning, for our lives. Was it worth two decades of turmoil? So it would seem.

Today's young families seem to be returning to principle-centered living. They are more sophisticated. They understand and adopt good personal money-management philosophies, and they still ask "why?"

The "why" of today, however, is more constructive. It has led to astounding advances in technology. When you ask a "why" today, you can locate the answer in minutes via the Internet. Audio books, motivational tapes, and "online" educational courses make it possible to become enlightened without the need for social revolution.

What about you? Are you asking "WHY?" often enough? Today, the world is yours if you know how to ask the right questions! The "ask why" generation's gift to all of us was the freedom to question and learn, guilt-free. Want to grow as a person? Start asking "WHY?"!

Posted 8/17/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

Everyone says it differently, but the message is the same. Here are three oft-quoted thoughts on "thinking":
"You are what you think about all day long."
"Your life is what your thoughts make of it."
"As you think, so shall you be." TOUGH LESSONS!

THINK!

What is a thought? Scientifically speaking, it is nothing more than a random electrical impulse in the brain. If you are relaxing, not focusing on any particular thoughts, your brain continues to fire off those random impulses which, in turn, are triggering random, unfocused thoughts - like the itch on your arm, how hummingbirds fly, or your Aunt Ellen's new car.

What's interesting is that everything in sight of you right now is the result of someone's focused thoughts. The computer screen, the window nearby, and the chair in which you are sitting came into existence as the result of a single focused thought. Henry Ford thought about a V-8 engine for his cars, and then insisted that his engineers create it. Jonas Sauk thought about eliminating polio - and did.

Whether you choose to focus your thoughts or not, your day will be filled with them. They just don't stop. But wait - there's an "Aha!" or a "Voila!" in here for you. Just think of the possibilities when you realize the power of thought - and put it to work for you. The amazing thing about thoughts is that you have complete control over them. You either put these electrical impulses to work for you through focused attention - or they happen anyway, but in a random, impotent manner akin to a static electrical discharge.

Everything tangible in our world today was created by an action, preceded by someone's thought - from a straight pin to a Pentium processor, from a blight-free American chestnut tree to your garage-door opener. So - what thoughts will you be having today?

They don't have to be life-changing or global in scope to make your personal world better. They need only be focused. Just remember, you control your thoughts - and their possibilities are endless.

Posted 8/10/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

TOUGH LESSONS!

In an old "Peanuts" cartoon, Sally is making a list while Charlie Brown looks on. Sally says, "I'm making a list of all the things I've learned in life . . ." In the next panel she continues with, "Well, actually, I'm making two lists." Charlie questions, "Why is one list longer than the other?" Holding up the much longer list, Sally explains, "These are the things I've learned the hard way!"

It's easy to chuckle a little at the part about "learning things the hard way," isn't it? We've all done that. There's really a more revealing message in this simple cartoon.

The short list of things we've learned generally contains lessons that required no effort, or lessons we learned passively, while just listening or observing. For instance, we learned simple courtesies from our first grade teacher. We learned historical names and dates from our history teacher. We learned to tie knots from our scout leader. Our parents taught us to share. The list goes on.

The important list, the one that's much longer, contains the things we've learned from experience. These lessons are endless, and no matter how trifling the lesson, we learned one every time we took action. We dared to try a two-wheel bicycle and crashed - several times. We tried out for the school play - and made fools of ourselves in front of friends.

By attempting - at the possible expense of our pride, our self-esteem, or our physical well-being - we either succeeded or failed (and learned a lesson). It is our actions that produce results and teach us those valuable lessons. Teddy Roosevelt said it right: "Far better to dare mighty things . . ."

Posted 8/3/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"'Lucky' is what others will call you after your hard work produces results." - Og Mandino

WHAT ABOUT THE PROVERBIAL GRINDSTONE?

Ever hear your parents or grandparents tell you to "keep your nose to the grindstone" when explaining the secret to success? If so, they probably ended your education right there . . . leaving you totally in the dark about the meaning behind the expression.

Looking deeper, there were probably three key words: "keep," "nose," and "grindstone." "Keep" meant "Keep on keeping on!" It was another way of saying "Be persistent" or "Never, never, never quit!" Results in any legitimate pursuit are the product of total commitment to the outcome.

The second keyword - "nose" - referred to staying close to the matter at hand. Picture yourself at the grindstone, with your face - and nose - close to the turning stone. By keeping a close eye on the grinding process - by being completely focused - few errors can occur which, in turn, assures a successful outcome.

The final word - "grindstone" - refers to the work (or job) itself. You must first choose your objective, i.e. sharpening the blade at the grindstone, before applying any effort. You must choose a worthy objective before applying either persistence or focus.

Success is inevitable when you apply the grindstone principle. It's a cryptic message, yet so simple. Apply it to all aspects of your life and others will surely call you "lucky!"

Posted 7/27/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."

WHO'S GRADING YOUR EXAM?

Ah, the concepts of failure and success. Our perspective on each has an effect on nearly every aspect of our lives - work, play, and relationships. How do we define our failures and our successes, or our potential for each? If you're taking a multiple-choice exam, then the answer is pretty easy - it's how many correct answers you mark versus how many incorrect answers. The more you mark correctly, the more successful you are on the exam.

Although life can be seen as a series of "multiple choice" problems, there is not necessarily an instructor giving us the answers from which to choose, or who can "grade" our performance once we've chosen. It is really up to us to evaluate our choices and our actions. Yet so many of us look to others to measure our success. 

Who's the top producer in your office? Who has the most base hits on your league's softball team? We often define success by a single aspect of someone's performance. Every person is an individual, who needs to decide for himself or herself how to define his or her success. If you're simply measuring yourself against everyone else, or what you believe everyone else expects of you, you may be cheating yourself out of true happiness.

Don't try to please everyone, because it simply cannot be done. But pleasing yourself is easy when you do the best you can - at work, at the gym, at home - and know in your heart that you've succeeded according to the goals you've established for yourself. Don't let anyone tell you that you're a failure because you haven't "measured up" against someone else or their definition of success.

You're a winner every day that you believe you're a winner. Start telling yourself today that you are a success, that you will be a success, and follow your ambition as far as it will lead you - that's all there is to it!

Posted 7/20/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Riches do not consist in the possession of treasures, but in the use made of them." ~ Napoleon

SEPARATE TRASH FROM TREASURE!

Written by Dr. Fred Craddock, the following story was passed along to me:

One of my schoolmates spent many years ministering in China. He was under house arrest and the soldiers came one day and told him that he could return to America. The family was celebrating. The soldiers said, 'You can take 200 pounds with you.'

They had been there for years! Two hundred pounds. They got the scales and they started the family arguments - two children, wife, and husband. Must have this vase . . . Well, this is a new typewriter . . . What about my books? . . . What about our toys? They weighed everything and took it off, until at last they had it right on the dot: two hundred pounds.

The soldiers asked if they were ready to go and they said, "Yes!" "Did you weigh everything?" They said, "Yes!" "Did you weigh the kids?" "No, we did not." "You will have to weigh the kids." In the blink of an eye, the typewriter, vase, books, all became trash. Trash. It happens.

Talk about a paradigm shift. How often have we all weighed our goods without considering our "kids"? Think of the times we placed value on our "stuff," only to be swiftly reminded of the value of a loved one.

This concept is confirmed with the story of a man who showed up at the pearly gates with a wheelbarrow full of gold bars. St. Peter explained that he could not "take it with him." Nevertheless, St. Peter consulted with God about the man being allowed to bring the gold bars. God answered with a simple question: "Why does he want to bring in paving materials?"

Posted 7/13/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"If you want to learn something new, concentrate on getting that 'right feeling' that is true to yourself. Take the risk of letting go the precious little control you've struggled to gain, letting go enough to immerse yourself in what you are doing. Then - do it!"  ~ Drs. Tom Rusk & Randy Read

THE SEARCH IS OVER! 

Have you ever read Shel Silverstein's wonderful book, "The Missing Piece and the Big O"? It's a whimsical fable that has touched readers of all ages. It chronicles the search most of us have undertaken at one time or another in our lives to find the one person who can make us whole.

As the "Missing Piece" searches, it encounters other "parts." Some of them fit, but cannot roll. Others have too many pieces missing - while still others have too many pieces. The missing piece continues the futile search until one day it meets the "Big O" - a whole (not a part) with no pieces missing.

Thinking it had, at last, found its whole, the Missing Piece exclaims, "I think you are the one I have been waiting for - maybe I am your missing piece . . . I was hoping that I could roll with you." The Big O replied, "But I am not missing a piece . . . perhaps you could roll by yourself."

How often have we all felt that we needed someone else to be whole (or to roll) - not realizing that we are all in fact already the "Big O." We are already self-contained, have the ability to roll in any direction we like, and need nothing else to achieve every dream we've ever had. Then, unexpectedly, we find that there are others who are also "Big O's," with whom we can share our own "wholeness."

If I've lost you with this mysterious tale, go by the library or pick up a copy of this unusual story. Trust me - you'll understand. It's the type of book you can give to a loved one who may be feeling like a "Missing Piece."

Posted 7/6/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss." ~ Thomas Carlyle

TAKE A SIESTA!

When setting goals and planning our future, we sometimes fail to look far enough ahead. Consider the following story:

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, "Only a little while." The American then asked, "Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" The Mexican said, "With this I have more than enough to support my family's needs." The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, then stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life."

The banker scoffed, "I'm a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. You would eventually open your own cannery and control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually New York where you will run your ever-expanding enterprise."

The fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?" To which the American replied, "15 to 20 years." "But what then?" asked the fisherman. The banker laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."

"Millions? And then what?" The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos." (!!!)

So . . . what are you working for? The IPO or the good life? Stop working toward "someday," and appreciate your success on this day. Take time to enjoy the siesta!

Posted 6/29/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Repentance is another name for aspiration." ~ Henry Ward Beecher

THE ART OF APOLOGY!

“To forgive is divine.” That’s wonderful for the one who forgives, but what about the one who is apologizing? How do you say you’re sorry without making things worse? What’s the best way to make reparation and regain your integrity?

None of us are saints. For any number of reasons, we’ve committed any variety of offenses. Maybe we did or said something unkind, or made a mistake that cost someone time or money. The question isn’t about making mistakes, because we all do that. The question is how to apologize after the fact. It has become a lost art.

First and foremost in regard to saying “I’m sorry” is to do it as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more it sounds like “I’m sorry . . . I got caught.” Next comes the explanation of what you did wrong and why it happened. Just be careful not to put more emphasis on the “why” than the “what,” because apologizing is not the same as justifying.

You don’t necessarily have to go whole hog, either. “I regret what happened” sounds a little weak, but “Everything was my fault” can be downright dangerous! Hopefully there is a middle ground where you can simply express how badly you feel about what you did or said.

Now that you’ve shown your repentance, your “victim” can relax, you can relax, and now you can take the opportunity to do something especially nice for the wronged party. Just be sure to say you’re sorry and THEN do something nice – otherwise, you might just arouse suspicion! Oh, and don’t forget – don’t make the same mistake twice!

Posted 6/22/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

I always wanted to be somebody. Now I realize I should have been more specific. ~ Lily Tomlin (from her "One Woman Show")

AGE DOESN'T MATTER!

Whether you're 23, 43 or 73, ask yourself this wonderfully refreshing question: "What do I want to be when I grow up?" Regardless of our age, it's so easy to lose sight of the specific "somebody" we always wanted to be. What's more, the "somebody" we had in mind in our 20's may be someone different in our 50's.

Worse yet, maybe we grew up to be the "somebody" someone else had in mind - like our mother or father. The influence of those around us often prevents us from even asking the question "What do I want to be . . . ?" We try so hard to be their somebody that we don't allow ourselves to grow up at all.

So . . . going back to the matter of age, it doesn't matter WHEN we decide who we want to be so much as that we DO decide. It is at that moment that a catharsis takes place, and we rid ourselves of everyone else's determination of our identity. We are free . . . free to become the person of our dreams.

Is it easy to develop and maintain our new identity? No. Our day-to-day activities will still attempt to distract us from our new persona. Nevertheless, as artist D. Morgan points out in one of her paintings, "The impossible dream - isn't!" Take a quiet moment today, just for yourself, and ask, "Am I the somebody I wanted to be?"

Posted 6/15/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best ~ Epictetus

GIVE YOURSELF A LIFT!

Have you ever aspired to be deeply depressed? On your list of major life's achievements, have you included becoming an itinerant ne'er-do-well? Does your daily task list include hanging out at the local pub, gossiping over the back fence with nosy neighbors, or spending time with a loser who does nothing but grouse about how the world has dealt him a lousy hand?

Did that first paragraph seem to pull you down? Did you say, "Ridiculous! Who would want to do those things?" If so, congratulations, you've already received this week's message.

Now, let's give this message a lift. Have you ever met someone with a bright inspiring spirit about them, and thought to yourself, "Wow, I'd like to know them better!" Have you noticed that when you attend a community education course, you leave with many fresh new ideas and a powerful boost in your attitude?

A well-known quote says, "You are what you think about all day long." If you hang out with the losers, your thoughts are likely to be dark and depressing. Spend time with those who possess magic in their attitude and enthusiastic vitality in their work ethic, and your thoughts are likely to soar.

Take a close look at your list of goals for this year. Have you included the addition of positive new personal relationships in your work and play environment? Remember that "to have a friend, you must first be a friend." Consider expanding your sphere of contacts to include those who would inspire you to greatness!

Posted 6/8/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten. ~ American book title (Robert Fulghum, author)

The children are watching us. ~ Italian film title (Vittorio De Sica, director)

BACK TO SCHOOL!

Turns out the children are listening, too. The question is, what are they learning and what are we teaching?

No matter whom we interact with, we should all take some time to reflect upon how our practices are matching up to our ethics and beliefs. We all have the potential to produce a profound effect on the people in our lives, both directly and indirectly. How we choose to act in our encounters helps define who we are: are we good stewards, good managers, good parents?

Consider the language we use when we deal with other people. Those who value power over action will use the language of judgment and superiority: “That idea is doomed..." or "You will never succeed..." or "That project is a waste of time.” Such language only serves to predict its own end and unfortunately, that end is often failure.

Now consider language that recognizes individuality while setting us up as collaborators: “I understand what you want..." or "I can only imagine how hard this is for you..." or "I'd like to help.” As we acknowledge the needs and feelings of others, we have better opportunities to show the same respect we’d expect in return. The encounter becomes a win-win situation.

As we interact with others, a good yardstick by which to measure our actions is to imagine how children would perceive them. Do we play by the rules? Are we being fair? Do we share? Are we doing unto others as we would have done to ourselves? During your next meeting, imagine a seven year old is watching the proceedings. Would you conduct yourself any differently?

Before children start to learn the later lessons of failure and success associated with competition, they first learn to “play well with others.” The politics of the playground still hold some powerful lessons for us, too!

Posted 6/1/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can't be done. ~ Henry Ford

EVER BEEN CRITICIZED?

If you've ever had a dream - you've also had critics. It seems they show up right on cue every time that special new dream begins to form. Critics come in the form of family members, employers, friends, and associates.

Interestingly, the only opinion worth listening to is your own. The opinions of others simply reflect their own limitations - and have nothing to do with the achievement of your dreams. Just imagine how shallow the world would be today if the following individuals had listened to their critics:

Arnold Schwarzenegger's family said, "How long will you go on training all day in a gymnasium and living in a dream world?"

Mary Kay Ash's attorney advised two weeks before her first store opening, "Liquidate the business right now and recoup whatever cash you can. If you don't, you'll end up penniless."

His teachers to Ray Charles: "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."

What Diana Ross heard her teacher say when auditioning for a high school play: "You have a nice voice, but it's nothing special."

Have a dream? Live it, pursue it, and achieve it - with a passion!

Posted 5/26/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves. ~ Katherine Mansfield

PLAY THE FAMILY GAME!

Feel like you're losing touch with your children? Wish you understood your spouse better? Want to enjoy closer family ties without the background noise of X-Box games or loud music? Does everyone seem to scatter the moment their last bite of food is swallowed? Introduce them to "the family game!"

It's a fun way to bring your family together at the dinner table and keep them there - without complaints. Furthermore, you'll soon have them willingly sharing their dreams, disappointments, likes & dislikes, interests, successes, and innermost thoughts. Finally, you will have created a new family tradition your children will delight in passing on to their own families.

Introduce your version of the family game at the end of a dinnertime meal when everyone is present. Don't make a big production of it, just ask everyone to remain at the table. Tell them you've heard of a fun game and would like to play it with them. Explain that each person at the table gets one turn (and only one turn). You begin by asking a question that everyone, including yourself, has to answer. For instance, your question might be, "What's the most embarrassing moment you've ever had?" Go around the table and let each family member contribute.

Once everyone answers, let the person at your left ask the next question. It might be, "What's the worst birthday present you've ever received?" or maybe, "If you could go back in the past and live in a different time, when would it be and why?" You'll be amazed at the sharing your family will suddenly experience.

Once the "family game" becomes a regular part of meals, add this twist: Before being seated, tell family members that they may sit in any seat at the table except their normal seat. The catch is that they must also "act" like the person normally seated in the chair they choose. This can produce hilarious results.

If your family seems fragmented and scattered, play "the family game." It's a natural for bringing joy, depth, communication and understanding back to your loved ones.

Posted 5/18/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

There isn't a person anywhere who isn't capable of doing more than he thinks he can. ~ Henry Ford

LISTEN! 

Ever notice how difficult it is to break out of your routine to take time just for you? Yet, when you do, you experience a sense of refreshment. You're more observant, more aware of your surroundings - if only for a short time.

Those brief periods are when the mind is most receptive to creative thinking. The sub-conscious, with its defensive barriers temporarily lowered, is more likely to receive and accept new ideas. Use that time wisely by letting go, giving yourself permission to dream new dreams, to reach for the "brass ring."

You don't have to analyze or give form to those dreams - just allow them to occur. When an idea begins to grab you and arouses inner excitement, pay attention. Avoid letting your conscious mind scoff at the value of your idea or throw roadblocks in your way. Listen to your quiet inner voice. Allow what Napoleon Hill describes as "infinite intelligence" to speak to you.

Read Henry Ford's quote again and concentrate on the last seven words, "doing more than he thinks he can." It's what your conscious self "thinks you can do" that is so limiting. Remember the expression "Think you can, think you can't - either way you're right"? Whatever your conscious self thinks is the limit to your doing - IS the limit. To exceed the limits you have placed upon yourself requires expanded thinking.

To get started, find your own quiet place - and go there for just fifteen minutes each day. In good weather, sit outside at dawn with a fresh cup of coffee. If you're a night person, find a quiet corner after the house is settled for the evening. Let the family know you want 15 uninterrupted minutes - just for you. Close your eyes and begin by clearing your mind of trivia - like wiping off a blackboard - then just let go. You'll be amazed at the results.

Posted 5/11/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome trying to succeed." ~ Booker T. Washington 


ON-THE-JOB STRAINING? 

Ever get that “burned out” feeling? You’re operating at maximum capacity and doing a darn good job of it, but the inspiration and the motivation start to wane. Don’t feel badly about it – after all, you can only really hit a slump when you’ve been experiencing a streak of success! Slumps do not happen to “losers,” because frankly, they’re always in a perpetual slump! 

So what can be done when you hit a bump in the road? Dr. Robert H. Schuller once observed that “when you can’t solve the problem, manage it.” Maybe you can’t control whatever outside forces are weighing down on your ability to move forward. You can, however, take a break and take a step back to look at things you actually can control. 

If you’re banging your head against a wall, please stop and walk away! If success lies beyond that wall, you’ll have a much better chance of getting there by going around your obstacles and not through them. Walls are not doorways – you need to refresh your perspective and find passage back to your previously winning ways. 

Perhaps you’ve just gotten so good at what you do that you’ve forgotten “the basics” of your activities. It’s like you’re operating on “auto-pilot,” and there are a thousand little details that you don’t even think about anymore as you carry on your routine. Take some time to “re-train” yourself. Start by pretending it’s your first day on the job and everything is new. 

New employees who have to learn the ropes often bring a fresh perspective that exposes ways to do things more efficiently. Look through your “apprentice” eyes for new ways of working, and it’s a good bet that your performance will improve, and you’ll find yourself operating with renewed enthusiasm. Now, give yourself a bonus! 

Posted 5/4/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken." ~ James Dent 
 

THE DOG DAYS!

The quote for today seems appropriate during these hazy summer days of sweltering heat and high grass. It's so easy to picture the perfect summer day and how we might just lie back in the hammock, or take the family to the park. Unfortunately, it's just about as easy for us to picture all the responsibilities we would be ignoring to take just such advantage of the day. 

However, don't forget that your physical and mental well-being are also your responsibility, and if you ignore those, you simply won't be able to successfully fulfill your other obligations. Corita Kent said, "Love the moment and the energy of the moment will spread beyond all boundaries." 

Take time out to do something really important - taking time out - even if it means "pretending" the lawn mower (computer, phone, pda) is broken. Step back, reevaluate your priorities, and let things fall back in line. "I could have had my presentation done ahead of schedule if we hadn't taken that Sunday drive," becomes "I gave the best presentation of my life because I really cleared my head on that Sunday drive." 

There's room for everything you love in your life - your work, your family, your interests. An imbalance in any of these can have a negative impact on the others, so beware and be aware of your priorities. If it's time to devote attention to the (seemingly) "little things," so be it. Don't miss your golden opportunity for a beautiful moment because it seems so small you don't even perceive it. 

Wonder at the sun shine, feel the breeze blow, listen to the birds sing, because "life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by day, in all the thousand small, uncaring ways." (Stephen Saint Vincent Benet) 

Posted 4/27/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." ~ Henry David Thoreau

SOUND FAMILIAR?

How many times have you told a friend or associate about a bold new idea for succeeding, only to have them shoot down the idea? How often do you hear a parent tell their child, "You can't do that!" or, "You're too little (or too short or too ugly)." With just a word, a child's future can be stunted. The alternative is to believe in yourself. Take a look at a few of those "You'll never amount to anything" comments made to the wrong people:

"You have a perfect voice for broadcasting, but you should get a job as a secretary. We're not using women." - What announcers for NBC told Sally Jesse Raphael when she applied for a job after graduation from Columbia University.

"It's a cutthroat business and you've got no chance of success." - So said an accountant for Estee Lauder, founder of a multibillion-dollar cosmetics empire.

"You have a nice voice, but it's nothing special." - That's what a teacher told Diana Ross after she auditioned for a part in a high school musical.

"It's too hard to crack into the late-night ratings. Television isn't ready for a black talk show host. This is America and you can forget it." - That's some conventional wisdom offered to Arsenio Hall prior to his acceptance of Paramount's offer to host a late-night talk show.

A dream, an idea, a vision of greatness - all can be shattered by a word or two from a total stranger. If you are the one with a dream, keep it to yourself as you methodically achieve all that you desire. If it's another who tells you theirs - encourage them to nurture it to fruition. Remember Thoreau's thoughts on this: "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

Posted 4/20/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds." ~ Francis Bacon

SOW GOOD SEEDS!

James Bender, in his book "How to Talk Well," tells of a farmer who grew prize-winning corn. Each year he won the blue ribbon at the state fair. When asked how he did it, the farmer explained that he shared his seed corn with his neighbors.

Pollen from ripening corn is carried by the wind from field to field. If the farmer's neighbors grew inferior corn, he felt that cross-pollination would steadily degrade his own prize-winning variety. If he was to grow good corn, the farmer felt he first had to help his neighbors grow good corn.

Having a good attitude and achieving your goals works the same way. How you view the world is affected by the attitudes of others, and vice-versa. Surely you can think of a time that someone else's dark outlook on life caused you to have a bad day. Your positive, can-do attitude can be easily cross-pollinated by the negative thoughts of others.

So . . . why not share your award-winning, success-oriented approach to life with your neighbors? By simply sharing a smile and a kind word with those around you, you can improve everyone's outlook. That thought can be carried a step further, too.

Can you imagine a farmer purposely planting corn in a field adjoined by a field full of briars, thorns and thistles, owned by a farmer with no intention of improving it? While it's a noble cause to improve the lives of others by sowing good seeds all around, it is sometimes necessary to do your farming elsewhere. By spending your time with others who share your aptitude for excellence, your own personal value will increase.

When picking a field in which to grow your dreams, choose your neighbors wisely - then sow only seeds that improve everyone involved. It's your choice.

Posted 4/13/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence." - Aristotle 


WHY ARE YOU WORKING?

When is the last time you sat down and analyzed your goals and dreams? At least once a year, you should review your financial situation to try to determine how much closer you are to achieving your goals from the same time last year. Every step you take should bring you nearer to your dream. 

Of course, you need to evaluate your dreams every year, too. Sometimes you imagine something that you want when it is simply the "heat of the moment," before you've thought it through to its logical conclusion. When you look back a few months later, you say to yourself, "What was I thinking?" Sometimes it's only someone else's ideas that affect or determine our own desires. 

Your dreams don't have to be of "castles in the clouds," but also avoid setting your goals too low! While respectable, if all you're working for is to make sure you don't miss a mortgage payment and you can cover your credit card bill, you definitely need to take the time to determine what would make you happy beyond just making sure the bills are paid. 

You shouldn't have to feel that you're working simply because you have to. If your work itself doesn't make you happy, at least try to see that your work can help you to achieve those goals that you dream of. When you feel you are wholeheartedly pursuing your happiness, then you can put yourself wholeheartedly into your work. 

When you make your happiness and the happiness of others your purpose, you'll find the journey to that destination all the more enjoyable. Seeking joy and peace is not selfish - it is as Aristotle said, "the whole aim and end of human existence." Take a good look at where you are now and where you want to be one year from now, ten years from now, twenty years from now. Apply your heart, body and mind to shaping your future - take whatever you have today and run with it!  

Posted 4/6/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"It is a simple procedure to calculate the number of seeds in an apple. But, who among us can say how many apples there are in a seed?" ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer
 

WANT ABUNDANCE IN YOUR LIFE?

Who among us would answer "NO" to that question? Yet abundance often seems beyond our reach. We see it in others, but do not believe it is in us. We see ourselves as the apple (limited), rather than the seed (limitless).

So, what's the first step on the road to abundance? Wayne Dyer thinks it is giving thanks - for what you already have. That might include good health, a new baby on the way, loving parents, a career you enjoy, or money in the bank. You do have a few things going for you - right?

Just as the potential of the seed in the apple is limitless, so is your ability to attract abundance. By focusing on what you already have, you begin to deny what you don't. Your attention is drawn away from the scarcity in your life - and towards the abundance that already exists in your world.

You may be thinking that when you achieve abundance, you will finally be complete. Therein lies the surprise - that you are already complete. You are never going to get it all, because you have it all already. That's right. If you are not currently thankful for the good in your life, having more of it will make no difference.

The secret to abundance then lies within you. Place your thoughts squarely on what you already have, be grateful, and it will expand beyond your wildest dreams. Believe you have nothing until you get more, and you will spiral endlessly downward in despair at how unjustly the world is treating you.

Want abundance in your life? Think about it!

Posted 3/31/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss."  ~ Thomas Carlyle 

TAKE A SIESTA! 

When setting goals and planning our future, we sometimes fail to look far enough ahead. Consider the following story: 

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. 

The Mexican replied, "Only a little while." The American then asked, "Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" The Mexican said, "With this I have more than enough to support my family's needs." The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?" 

The fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, then stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life." 

The banker scoffed, "I'm a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. You would eventually open your own cannery and control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually New York where you will run your ever-expanding enterprise." 

The fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?" To which the American replied, "15 to 20 years." "But what then?" asked the fisherman. The banker laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions." 

"Millions? And then what?" The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos." (!!!) 

So . . . what are you working for? The IPO or the good life? Stop working toward "someday," and appreciate your success on this day. Take time to enjoy the siesta! 


Posted 3/23/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true." ~ James B. Cabell 

THE SKY IS FALLING . . . NOT! 

"The glass is half-full." "The glass is half-empty." "Looks like a beautiful day!" "I think it's going to rain." "I'm happy." "I'm depressed." "I'm an optimist!" "How can you be an optimist with things the way they are?" 

OK, we all know the difference between an optimist and a pessimist - right? In some of Steven Covey's material, he states that "no one knows enough to be a pessimist." Pessimism, more often than not, is generated by inner fears, most likely fears "of the unknown." Hence, "No one knows enough to be a pessimist." 

Consider the child about to learn the art of riding a bike. "I know I'm going to fall," proclaims the child - just before taking a skinned knee. After a week of practice, is the child still fearful? Once bike riding becomes second nature, i.e. once the child "knows" enough about bike riding, the fear (a.k.a. pessimism) disappears. 

Just as the child's pessimism ("I'm going to fall...") precedes the skinned knee, our other pessimistic thoughts may precede our worst fears. By substituting a positive thought for a negative one, therefore, is it not possible that the action that follows might also be positive? 

Add to that positive thought an extra measure of learning and knowledge, and it's highly unlikely there will continue to be room for either the pessimism or the subsequent negative action. From one optimist to another, heed this advice: "Don't worry - be happy!" 

Posted 3/16/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Gardner's Law: Eighty-seven percent of all people in all professions are incompetent." ~ John Gardner 

PERSONALITY TEST!

Let's hope today's "inspiration" isn't actually true, although we've all probably felt that way at one time or another. Regardless of the percentage, however, it cannot be denied that incompetence really does exist in every profession, even those like physicians, attorneys, school bus drivers and stock brokers. 

Some people do a great job no matter what it is they do, while others can't seem to succeed even after trying several careers. Sometimes it's not really a matter of competence so much as matching a job to specific abilities, interests and personality. An introvert who enjoys working alone probably shouldn't pursue a career in communications, while a creative person who enjoys the outdoors likely wouldn't be happy in accounting. No matter how hard you try, you just can't force yourself to love brussels sprouts! 

How much of the "incompetence" that we encounter is simply the result of a person who is mismatched for their job? We all have certain skills and personality traits that better suit certain types of careers, but we often start down that path before we've ever gotten to really develop and know ourselves. We believe our parents, guidance counselors, and spouses more than we do ourselves sometimes. 

Realizing your true personality is challenging. Applying that knowledge to your choice of career is even more difficult, but absolutely necessary if you want to be happy in your choice. If you're feeling dissatisfied, try to find at least some small aspect of your job that you find enjoyable, and aggressively apply your personality to it to produce more satisfying results. 

If that's not working for you, perhaps it's time to take a long hard look at where you've been and where you are and why you don't like it there. Matthew Arnold said, "Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery." You've probably learned a lot about other people in your lifetime. Aren't you ready to know yourself? 

Posted 3/9/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The path you're on looks different when you turn around." - Cynthia Copeland Lewis 

LOOK BACK TO THE FUTURE!

Life has been described as a path, a direction in which we travel over time - rather than a single event. Each of us gets to choose the direction our path will take us. By making those choices, we also clear the way to achieving the objectives we've set for ourselves. 

When we fail to choose the path we will travel, that is also a choice. In that case, the path we travel becomes less distinct with more twists and turns than we would have liked. Each side path we encounter tempts us to change direction. Lacking any roadmap of objectives we might have chosen, we often end up somewhere - else. 

Regardless of the quality of our choices, we can get a clear understanding of where we are likely to end up - just by turning around. By simply looking back at the path we have been following, much can be learned. For example, is the path behind us straight, or filled with curves and detours taken? Is it paved with solid, masterfully laid stepping stones, or filled with muddy ruts that zig-zag around every obstacle? 

Chances are that, as teenagers, most of our paths seemed to have had many twists and turns. As we matured and learned from our mistakes, however, it is also likely that we began improving the direction and quality of the path we travelled. The more attention we paid to the path, the more enjoyable the journey became. 

Posted 3/2/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Just because you're the lone voice in the wilderness, it doesn't mean you're wrong." ~ Ghandi

ME, MYSELF & I - A GROUP OF ONE!

Remember this tune from the protest era? "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do." The poignant lyrics call attention to the reality that being alone, being a group of one, can be a very lonely, uncomfortable, and sometimes challenging situation.

When it comes to the important issues in your life, it's much more comforting to know that others are standing with you. You stand up for a student issue at a PTO meeting, and others stand with you. You call attention to a social injustice, and are backed by a majority of the members in your organization. Together, the group gives strength and credibility to the views of its leader.

What, then, if the leader and followers are a group of just one? What value is there in taking a position with no one to back you up? What's more, acting alone often stimulates inner questioning, self-doubt, and ultimately self-defeat.

So, where do you stand when it comes to defending your own principles of living? When you witness cheating, dishonesty, or unfair criticism of others, do you stand up as a group of one when no one else cares to stand with you? Do you then feel like the "lone voice in the wilderness?"

Our world has few leaders and many followers. The stand you take alone may provide the inspiration needed by followers who agree, but who do not have the ability to speak out on their own. As Ghandi counseled, just because you're "the lone voice . . . doesn't mean you're wrong." 

Posted 2/23/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault."  ~ John Henry Cardinal Newman 

SELF PROMOTION!

Been chasing success? Have you caught it yet? Maybe you finally landed a big contract, got that promotion, or reached bonus level at work. Setting a goal and achieving it is gratifying, but it's not usually the end of the journey. Most of us tend to set yet another goal, and take off running again. 

There's no such thing as taking one grand step and reaching the summit, even when that one step is the last of many already taken on the journey. If you are not satisfied with every small success, and are always looking towards the next achievement for your ultimate gratification, the likelihood is that you will never reach it. 

What drives your need for the big listing or promotion or bonus will not leave you once you've gotten what you thought you wanted. You must take great care not to let your drive for more and more success belittle what you have accomplished so far. Ultimate success does not come with this or any future achievement. It's about the "whole package" or the "big picture." 

Do you love what you do for a living? If you say yes, but find yourself constantly pushing for more fulfillment, you might need to reconsider that question. Loving what you do creates a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, regardless of your position on the ladder. If you're happy not to "keep up with the Joneses," or build mountains of wealth, you are to be congratulated on reaching your own form of nirvana. 

Your sense of self-worth is not (nor should be) tied to any one positive or negative event. A happy and successful self is a combination of feelings and beliefs, based on experiences at home and at work. Remember that you are greater than the sum of your parts! 

Posted 2/16/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"If you're gonna go, go like hell.  If your mind's not made up, don't use your spurs."   From "Don't Squat With Your Spurs On!" ("A Cowboy's Guide to Life" by Texas Bix Bender) 

LIVE WITH PASSION!

When you're ready to ride, don't wear your Nikes. Put on your boots and spurs, and let your horse know you mean to ride hard. Then - ride with passion. 

How many times have you thought of achieving a dream - only to spend more time in the dreaming and planning than in the doing? No problem - we all do it from time to time. The old nemesis - fear of failure and the unknown - haunts all of us occasionally, keeping us from reaching our objective. 

Think back to the last time you took action with a burning passion! Were you competing for a gold medal, fighting for your life under adverse circumstances, or vying for the heart of your beloved? Something was motivating you to the limit, and you refused to quit. 

So, what's your passion right now - today? Maybe it's an education, a new career, getting in shape, having more freedom, money & status, or closer family ties. Whatever your desired direction in life, put on your spurs, mount your horse, and hit the trail! There's no greater joy in life than putting everything you've got into an achievement - and then realizing you've overcome all the obstacles. 

Ride hard, buckaroo! 

Posted 2/9/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"What is more mortifying than to feel you've missed the Plum for want of courage to shake the Tree?"  ~Logan Pearsall Smith 

WOULD YOU ENTER THE BLACK DOOR? 

Many years ago, in a country far away, a ruthless dictator terrorized his prisoners. On their execution day, each prisoner was summoned for an audience with the cruel dictator. Standing face-to-face, the dictator gave each condemned man a final choice - to either face the firing squad - or go through the "black door." 

Having experienced countless episodes of torture and cruelty already, the prisoners invariably chose death over the unknown terror that they imagined must lie beyond the "black door." Finally, the day came when the dictator himself lay on his deathbed. Curious, his inner circle of advisors asked him, "What lies beyond the 'black door'?" His answer? "Freedom!" 

People are still making that choice today - choosing lives dampened by fear, rather than taking a chance on the unknown beyond the black door. That awful, scary feeling that comes from "fear of the unknown" is often just enough to keep us from breaking out into the clear light of day that illuminates our success. 

The next time an opportunity presents itself, yet fear threatens to smother success, take time to understand your fear. Make a list of what you fear may happen. Write down the worst that could happen. Next, make a list of the benefits you would reap by taking positive action. When the benefits exceed the risks, the decision will become clear. 

Get in the habit of setting clear, concise daily goals for yourself. As you set and achieve them, you will notice that "fear of the unknown" begins to fade. You will accomplish more in a day than you otherwise would in a month. 

Finally, remember one of my favorite and often used quotes: "Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there." 

Posted 2/2/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking."  ~ William James 

YOU’RE THE PHOTOGRAPHER!

Most people, when they have their camera in hand, take snapshots of other people or things. The focus is on anything and everything outside themselves. What many don't realize is that they also have a super high-resolution camera in their minds. 

The words of William James are not new. They've been said before in many forms, i.e. "As a man thinketh, so is he," or "You are what you think about all day long," or "A man is what his thoughts make of him." 

By simply framing a picture in your mind of the person you would like to become, then acting like that person - you ARE that person! I believe it was Zig Ziglar who said it this way: "Fake it 'til you make it!" In other words, just by "acting" like the person you want to be, you actually become that person. 

Likewise, we often create our own limitations by creating small pictures of who we are. In the words of Michelangelo (1475-1564), "The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." 

Why not take a closer look at the image you've created of yourself? Is it in focus? Does it portray the person you really want to be? Should you "zoom" in for a closer look, or go "wide angle" to broaden your horizons? 

Your life is whatever you imagine it to be. Create a masterpiece! 

Posted 1/126/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

 "Always remember the distinction between contribution and commitment. Take the matter of bacon and eggs. The chicken makes a contribution. The pig makes a commitment." ~ John Mack Carter

HOW'S THE FAMILY?

OK, sure - you prepare the meals, maintain the yard, balance the checkbook, take the kids to soccer, wash and iron the clothes, tune-up the car. You take care of all the daily needs of the family. So - is that your contribution to them, or a contribution to your commitment to them?

Our world today is frantic. As adults, our responsibilities are awesome. Our careers require long and odd hours away from family. Our children are lured by television towards needs and desires for more and more material possessions, i.e. logo clothing, "gaming" accessories, makeup, or cool vehicles. Our spouse wonders why there's never enough time for "us." Where will it all end? How can we slow down?

If your family is moving at the speed of life, and there seems to be no end in sight, maybe it's time to take a look at your commitment to all involved. A great place to start is time alone with your spouse - away from home. If possible, that means an overnight or weekend trip. It's a time to re-examine your values, your goals in life, and the direction you would like your family to take. Finally, it's a time to re-commit to the health of your marriage.

You may quickly realize that it's a time to simplify your life - and that of your family. That's easy to say - more difficult to accomplish - yet attainable with a firm commitment. If you like the idea of simplification, there are three excellent books that can move you in that direction.

First is a great primer, Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift From The Sea." Next, for both men and women is "The Simplicity Reader" by Elaine St. James. Finally, and especially for women, is "Simple Abundance" by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Why not make a new commitment to your family, beginning today? Your contributions will be much more enjoyable!

Posted 1/19/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"If ever I go looking for my heart's desire, I won't look any further than my own backyard!"  ~ Dorothy (from the The Wizard of Oz) 

HAVE NO REGRETS! 

Soon after beginning your quest, however, maybe you realized it wasn't for you. Guilt or embarrassment may have set in, and you weren't sure what to do. After all, you already told everyone about your grand plans, and now what would they think of you for making a 180¼ turn in midstream? 

John Greenleaf Whittier, in his well-known poem "Maud Muller," wrote "For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been!" His message? Take a risk! Strike out on your own if that be your desire. Give it a try! Don't be afraid! In other words, don't let fear rob you of the opportunity to learn what "might have been." 

Better to take the chance and have no regrets, than to fear giving it a try. If you later find, to your chagrin, that the new direction is not right for you, try looking, as did Dorothy, in your own backyard. Very often, everything you needed to be totally fulfilled already existed at your beginning point. 

Remember - "There's no place like home!" 

Posted 1/12/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"There isn't a person anywhere who isn't capable of doing more than he thinks he can."  ~ Henry Ford 

LISTEN!  

Ever notice how difficult it is to break out of your routine to take time just for you? Yet, when you do, you experience a sense of refreshment. You're more observant, more aware of your surroundings - if only for a short time. 

Those brief periods are when the mind is most receptive to creative thinking. The sub-conscious, with its defensive barriers temporarily lowered, is more likely to receive and accept new ideas. Use that time wisely by letting go, giving yourself permission to dream new dreams, to reach for the "brass ring." 

You don't have to analyze or give form to those dreams - just allow them to occur. When an idea begins to grab you and arouses inner excitement, pay attention. Avoid letting your conscious mind scoff at the value of your idea or throw roadblocks in your way. Listen to your quiet inner voice. Allow what Napoleon Hill describes as "infinite intelligence" to speak to you. 

Read Henry Ford's quote again and concentrate on the last seven words, "doing more than he thinks he can." It's what your conscious self "thinks you can do" that is so limiting. Remember the expression "Think you can, think you can't - either way you're right"? Whatever your conscious self thinks is the limit to your doing - IS the limit. To exceed the limits you have placed upon yourself requires expanded thinking. 

To get started, find your own quiet place - and go there for just fifteen minutes each day. In good weather, sit outside at dawn with a fresh cup of coffee. If you're a night person, find a quiet corner after the house is settled for the evening. Let the family know you want 15 uninterrupted minutes - just for you. Close your eyes and begin by clearing your mind of trivia - like wiping off a blackboard - then just let go. You'll be amazed at the results. 

Posted 1/5/2015

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The manner in which it is given is worth more than the gift." ~ Pierre Corneille (1606-1684) 

JOIN THE VOLUNTEER BRIGADE! 

Back in the 70's, CB radios became popular, especially among the nation's truckers. You could tune in Channel 19 and listen to a constant chatter among truckers and others with radios. If you were traveling on an interstate highway, you could get info on traffic, weather, wreck scenes to avoid, radar traps, and other useful tidbits. It was like there was a whole other world of activity going on around you IF you had a CB radio. Those who didn't were oblivious to the activity - yet it was still there.

The same is true of the volunteer brigade - those who offer their time and talents to worthy causes without reward. In any given community, there is a work force that operates 24/7 without any expectation of reward. If you're not one of them, you are probably oblivious to their daily actions to serve the community - but they are out there working whether or not you know it. One example that comes to mind is a recent wreck scene. At 1:00 AM a vehicle traveling at over 90 mph left the road, went over an embankment, and hit the bottom upside down. A witness to the crash was amazed to see about 15 firefighters, EMT's, and rescue squad volunteers on the scene within 5 minutes after the wreck was reported. The witness asked in surprise, "Where did you guys come from?" One minute traffic was normal, and those 15 volunteers were in their warm beds. Five minutes later they were saving a life.

There are many ways to make a life-altering contribution to others as a volunteer. Most are not as glamorous as saving a life, yet all contribute to the many unmet needs of community members. Each of us has talents that can be put to use for those in need. A little self-examination will help identify your potential contribution. With all the blessings we enjoy in this country, each of us should make an effort to reach out to others. Why not join the volunteer brigade today? 

Posted 12/29/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Whoever gossips to you will gossip of you." ~ Spanish Proverb  

JUDGE NOT . . . 

You know the type - there's a gossip in everyone's life. It may be a friend, an acquaintance, or a total stranger. Regardless, it is the person who shares with you any amount of information about another, either about what they have accomplished, or more often, what they have not. 

Why does a gossip perform his or her service so readily? Self-aggrandizement is often the culprit. Knowing such valuable information about another as to be able to share it, reasons the gossip, reflects favorably on the provider of such knowledge. In fact, however, gossiping is nothing more than the act of judging others. 

When a friend passes judgment on another, might it be that, in your absence, they also pass judgment on you? In most cases that is true. Thus, one measure of another's character might be the presence or absence of such a tendency. 

Steven Covey (of "Seven Habits..." fame) offers a solution when he says, "If you do not judge others, they will not judge you." In other words, if you are of such character as to never discuss the merits or actions of others, unless they be favorable, it is highly likely that others will reciprocate in kind. If someone makes a negative comment about another, Covey suggests that your reply might be, "That's interesting. He has always spoken very highly of YOU." 

Many wise men, in many languages, over many centuries, have repeated and paraphrased the maxim "Judge not, that ye be not judged." It's easy to neutralize the gossip's sting by practicing such clear advice! 

Posted 12/16/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"It is best to act with confidence, no matter how little right you have to it."  ~ Lillian Hellman 

EVALUATE THIS! 

So, when was the last test or exam that you took? Or have you experienced a recent evaluation of your work? Many of us, even if we're "the boss," have to go through a periodic appraisal of how well we carry out our jobs. Often, this assessment comes from outside - a supervisor "objectively" examines our performance. But what if you yourself could take the responsibility for your own evaluation? 

The trouble with some people is that they give themselves poor grades, sometimes in spite of the fact that others may highly regard their work. Those who lack confidence in their own ability to lead and to succeed often dismiss evidence that clearly illustrates their potential. If you're not happy with your own work, it simply won't matter how others feel about it. 

Remember that feelings don't depend on the facts. Feelings actually create the truth. Think of it this way: your feeling of confidence begins with the feeling, and it's that feeling that then creates the confidence! You become self-assured by first believing in yourself. You don't break out of the starting gate, dash first across the finish line, and then begin to believe you're a winner. That's putting the cart before the horse! 

Beginning with the belief that you will succeed is the first and necessary step toward achieving your goal. Sometimes you will win and sometimes you will not, that's a fact of life. But as long as you carry your faith in yourself, you'll always possess that potential to win that some people simply lack. They haven't yet realized that improving their performance begins with improving their feelings about themselves. 

Roy L. Smith said, "The man who cannot believe in himself cannot believe in anything else." So choose whatever goal your heart desires, but first choose to believe in your ability to reach it! 

Posted 12/11/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"We stand at the crossroads each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we've selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make." - Benjamin Franklin  

ENJOY PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP! 

Remember the day you made the decision to go to college? What about the day you decided to buy that sporty red car? Surely you remember the day you decided you would get married. What about your present career path? Did you purposely decide it's what you want to do? Do you remember making a conscious decision to have three children? 

Some decisions are relatively simple. You decide to buy a TV, go to the store, write a check - and it's yours. You own it! Other decisions are also easy to make, i.e. the red sports car, but carry a higher price. The decision comes quickly, but entails both a down payment and a commitment to make payments on time for several years. Again, you make the decision to buy and the car is yours - you own it! 

At some point in life come decisions that shouldn't have been made, but were, as well as those you should have withheld. In high school, a day of classes skipped may have resulted in grades lower than acceptable to your choice of colleges. Later, a poor choice of friends may have resulted in a blemish on your "permanent" record. As an adult, poor decision-making not only may reduce the quality of your life, but of those you love. 

Regardless, each decision made is yours to keep - you own it! You also own the responsibilities created by the decision, i.e. following a healthy lifestyle to stay trim, working two jobs to keep your commitment to the mortgage company, giving up poorly chosen friends and activities to provide your children with a happy, nurturing home life. 

Every decision made can turn positive or negative, depending on the actions taken once the decision has been made. Either way - making the decision is followed by ownership of the results. Does "pride of ownership" appeal to you? Buy it, own it, love it! 

Posted 12/2/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
“Between you and me, sir, I’ll have to see him before I’ll believe he’s invisible.”  
 
~ Lester Cole, screenwriter for “The Invisible Man Returns”
 
DOES IT STILL FIT?
 
Last year, scientists reported creating an “invisibility cloak.” The device bends electromagnetic radiation around itself, making whatever it covers appear invisible. So far they have only tested the device with microwaves, but the theory may work with visible light, too. In the world of fantasy, young wizard Harry Potter already often benefits from a magic invisibility cloak.
 
How many of us have wondered what it would be like to be invisible? As children, we marveled at the power of anonymity to create havoc, and imagined listening undetected to forbidden conversations. As teenagers, perhaps we longed for invisibility from the difficulties posed during that stage of life. Then, the fantasy of invisibility was a good and fun one, in the spirit of escapism.
 
But as adults, does the desire for invisibility leave us? By and large, “grown-ups” view invisibility in a negative light. To be invisible is to be overlooked, unimportant, or even sinister. To be invisible is to be an outsider.
 
However, from time to time, we all could use a little invisibility - invisibility from the cell phone, from the kids, from being "on call," or just from the chaos of modern life. Sure, the fantasy has changed from when we were children. Now we may just long for an hour during the day that is all ours, with no interruptions.
 
So, go find your old invisibility cloak and dust it off. Try it on for an hour - and remember just how much fun it is to be invisible!

Posted 11/26/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"People fail forward to success."  ~ Mary Kay Ash

FAILING FORWARD!

It's been observed that although experience can be the best teacher, you get it by taking the exam before you've actually taken the course!

Quite expectedly, many of us don't perform well initially when attempting something new. While there is such a thing as a "natural talent" in just about any field of endeavor, it's probably safe to assume that most people working (or playing) at anything, from the practice of law to the game of tennis, have a long road behind them paved with what they considered (at the time) to be failures.

Every experience we have, however, should be a learning process. And our so-called "failures" are in fact the “experiences” from which we learn the most. Early on in life, the way we gain our sense of balance is from falling down when we first attempt to walk. Every fall, every "failure," eventually led to success.

It's a rare individual who does well in his or her first attempt at anything. Despite Yoda's philosophy in the Star Wars saga that "there is no try; there is only do," most of us ending up "doing" after repeated attempts at "trying." Eventually, we “do” manage to succeed.

So perhaps what Yoda was saying, after all, is that when we finally achieve our goals, it's only the end result that matters - because of everything we previously considered, failure simply becomes part of the process of success. Then we have indeed "failed forward!"

Posted 11/18/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Let us then be up and doing
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait."
 
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
 
EVER NOTICE THE CHANGE?
 
You may have noticed that towards the end of summer your energy level begins to sag. Depending on the heat level in your area, your tendency to accomplish less may be obvious or even quite subtle. Nevertheless, when that first fresh breath of autumn passes through, drying up the humidity, you suddenly feel rejuvenated. Your energy returns, your objectives come back into focus, and you're back on track.
 
What a great time of year to formulate some positive autumn resolutions - to literally "turn over a new leaf." In a 1949 issue of "Good Housekeeping," an author notes that we make negative resolutions in January, i.e. "lose" weight, "quit" smoking, etc. - and we do it at a time when we are "worn out in spirit, body, and pocketbook, and have no real urge to do anything but rest."
 
So - why not use October's entrance into the new season as your excuse to formulate some new goals? Instead of concentrating on the negatives (as in January), take some time alone to work on the positives you want to invite into your life. It can include everything from simple joys of time with family and loved ones to a complex plan to pump up the production level of your business.
 
Best of all, you won't be distracted by blaring horns, confetti, or a Champagne hangover. In fact, there's no need to share your revitalized outlook with anyone. Work quietly, think outside the box, and plant some new seeds for future growth. Happy "New Year!"

Posted 11/12/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
~ Henry David Thoreau
 
BUILD YOUR OWN!
 
"Follow the yellow brick road," sang Dorothy and her unusual entourage in The Wizard of Oz, as they marched toward the Emerald City. The road was clear and their direction set. What they didn't know was that the good witch and the joyful munchkins had sent them down a road leading to a wanna-be fake wizard behind a curtain.
 
Have you ever had friends or family direct you to take a "yellow brick road" of their imagining? If you blindly followed their advice, you may have ended up in your own Emerald City of disappointment. The truth is that you have the power to create and follow a yellow brick road of your own, one that leads to the realization of your dreams.
 
The hard part is that YOU must also lay the paving stones of that road. You must first decide on a destination, and then be certain that each brick faces in that direction. Along the way, you may be distracted by winged monkeys or a wicked witch of your own making. If you succumb to those distractions, you may look back to find that your paving stones are uneven and lead in the wrong direction.
 
Only by having your destination clearly in mind will you arrive unscathed by life's many dead-ends and hairpin twists and turns. You must also be committed to the work involved - choosing only the right bricks, having the patience and perseverance to lay them straight, and the strength to avoid life's temptations as you work.
 
In the words of Thoreau - "If you have built castles in the air…"

Posted 11/4/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"The best laid plans o' mice and men often go astray." - Robert Burns "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" - Haw (from "Who Moved My Cheese?")
 
DON'T GET TOO COMFORTABLE!
 
Are you enjoying the good times? Have you achieved your goals and become comfortable in the knowledge that you have reached the zenith of your life and career? But wait! Hold on just a minute. What if things were to change suddenly . . . and you ended up back at the proverbial "Square One"?
 
Maybe that's already happened to you a time or two. Perhaps your career took a sudden turn in a direction you hadn't anticipated, or a health problem caught you totally by surprise. What did you do then? Were you paralyzed by fear? Did you feel cheated, or angry? Did you blame circumstances for your new situation?
 
No doubt you are able to rationalize objectively that all of us face change from time to time, that it's a part of life. It's difficult, however, to be objective when change suddenly stares you straight in the eye.
 
Some answers popped up this week to the challenges of change. You'll find those answers in a short, easy-to-read book entitled "Who Moved My Cheese?" Written by Spencer Johnson (co-author of "The One-Minute Manager"), it's the story of two little mice named "Sniffy" and "Scurry" and two little people the size of mice called "Hem" and Haw." The story traces the whimsical challenges faced by these tiny characters as they travel through the maze called "real life."
 
If you have ever been challenged by change in your world, you'll find comfort and sage advice in this simple story. It's waiting for you to read, and it's worth the short time you'll need to absorb the lessons it contains. This is a great story - don't miss it!

Posted 10/28/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"You've failed many times, although you may not remember. You fell down the first time you tried to walk. You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim, didn't you? Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat? Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot. R.H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on. English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books. Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs. Don't worry about failure. Worry about the chances you miss when you don't even try."
~ Full-page ad published in the Wall Street Journal by United Technologies
 
"I CAN'T" IS DEAD!"
 
There's a wonderful story in "Chicken Soup For The Soul" about a 4th grade teacher and a funeral. The teacher had her students fill a sheet of notebook paper with all the things they couldn't do. They wrote furiously for quite a while filling their paper with "I can't do ten push-ups," or "I can't kick the soccer ball past second base," or "I can't get Debbie to like me."
 
The students were then instructed to fold their papers and place them into a shoe-box at the front of the room. The teacher then tucked the box under her arm, and invited the students to follow her out into the playground. There, they each took a turn at the shovel and dug a hole four feet deep. The box was placed in the hole and quickly covered with dirt.
 
The students then held hands while the instructor delivered a eulogy in memory of "I can't." In it, she noted that "I can't" was survived by his brothers and sister, "I can," "I will," and "I'm going to right away."
 
"I can't" is a close relative to most of us, yet maybe with a little extra effort we can finally let him go. It won't be easy since he's been such a close relation, yet maybe by dwelling on his brothers and sister and their importance to us - we can!
 
Remember the unforgettable line from "The Little Engine That Could"? "I think I can - I THINK I can! I THINK I CAN!" Don't forget the last line of our quote for the day. "Worry about the chances you'll miss when you don't even try!"

Posted 10/22/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Your imagination is the preview to life's coming attractions."
~ Albert Einstein
 
YOU'RE THE STAR!
 
Do you believe Orville & Wilbur were first to fly because they had a hammer, nails and a free weekend? Think the television was created by accident? Did Bill Gates just stumble upon the software code that has changed the world? Not a chance!
 
The Wright brothers created the previews of their first flight in the theatre of their minds. Naturally, there were no limitations to their imaginings as they dreamed of flying. Who knows how the dream of television became reality . . . how it was transformed from a mere visualization into vacuum tubes, knobs, and channels?
 
What went through Bill Gates' mind prior to his early experiments? Surely his first visions were not of a colorful package entitled "Windows 2000." Nevertheless, his vivid imagination took us all from the concept of "1's" and "0's" to today's monumentally complex world of computer software and internet browsers.
 
What about you? What goes on in your mind's eye while no one is looking? What do you see yourself doing in one, three, or five years? Do you hear a special future beckoning you to create an action thriller from the previews running through your imagination? Is there a stirring inside you that begs to be brought to fruition?
 
Why not grab some popcorn, a soft drink, and settle quietly into your favorite chair to enjoy the previews of your own imagination? Then, with a clear picture fresh in your mind, create the main attraction - your life!

Posted 10/14/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"No matter where you go, there you are." ~ Unknown
 
TURN ON THE LIGHT!
 
Ever felt crippled by fear? Perhaps you dread that unwanted phone call, that knock on the door, or the return of pain. What makes it worse is your imagination. Your mind conjures up all sorts of imaginary shadows on the wall or things that go bump in the night.
 
Remember when you were just a kid? You saw those shadows on the wall and cried out in fear. Your mom or dad came in, turned on the light, and "Voila!" - no more shadows on the wall. Simply by exposing your fear to light you learned to overcome your fear.
 
Now you're an adult and your fears are different, more complex, yet most are still conjured up by your imagination. Fear of the unknown holds you in its grip. Where is the light that used to save you?
 
The light is still there - with one difference. Now, as the adult that you are, you must be the one to turn on the light. It is up to you to expose the fear for what it usually is - a figment of your imagination. Fear is most easily overcome through exposure. Take time alone to examine your fears, determine their origin, and overcome their crippling effect on you.
 
If you suffer from a health problem, get a diagnosis and begin a treatment plan. If creditors are calling, face them, and then determine how you allowed yourself into the present situation. If sales are down, adjust your marketing approach.
 
It takes faith on your part to know you have the power to overcome your fears. Hence another quote: "Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there."

Posted 10/7/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"To have a friend, you must first be a friend."
- Unknown
 
ARE YOU RELATED?

 
In the long distant past, all generations of a family lived in the same town, if not just across the road or down the lane. Each member of the family knew all the good - and the bad - about every other member (as well as all the neighbors). They worked together, played, and prayed together.
 
Today, families are scattered throughout the country. What we call relationships now are often only acquaintances introduced through business situations or chance meetings. They may be casual and based only on a single shared interest, i.e. golf, fitness, children's school activities, etc. These relationships may lack depth and rarely go beyond that single shared interest.
 
Even with family relations more scattered and unavailable to us on a day-to-day basis, our human side still has a need and desire for deeper relationships. The good news is that they are not only possible but also available to us with just a little effort.
 
A single common interest through school-aged children may result in having lunch together. The lunch may reveal that both individuals appreciate the arts, with one being an amateur photographer and the other a proficient watercolor artist. Further conversation may find that both are caring for aging parents, have endured similar life challenges, or witnessed brilliant successes.
 
In short, deep relationships, akin to those shared by families in the past, are still possible. Yes, they must be cultivated. They don't just passively occur as in the daily activities of a family. The result is the same, however, as these relationships can provide a richness to life that is missing in their absence. Try to find some missing relations today!

Posted 9/30/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"A man will find that as he alters his thoughts toward things and other people, things and other people will alter towards him.... Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life. Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.... The divinity that shapes our ends is in ourselves. It is our very self.... All that a man achieves is the direct result of his own thoughts.... A man can only rise, conquer and achieve by lifting up his thoughts. He can only remain weak and abject and miserable by refusing to lift up his thoughts."
 
~ James Allen, "As A Man Thinketh"
 
ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE!
 
It's so simple . . . the advice given in the above quote . . . and so true. Each of us has the power to elevate the value and quality of our life, simply by "lifting up" our thoughts, by placing our hands firmly on the wheel of positive thinking. Earl Nightingale gave an example in one of his taped programs. He said imagine that you are the operator of a huge piece of earth-moving equipment. You are perched in a small cab, hands on the wheel, and have the ability to move vast amounts of earth. Would you take your hands off the wheel and let it run itself into a ditch?
 
Your mind, and hence your thoughts, mirror that steering wheel. Through positive thoughts, you guide your life in a direction that produces positive actions, resulting in positive re-actions from others. Refusing to keep your hands on the wheel will quickly deliver you into life's ditches.
 
Life today is complex. It brings with it many opportunities for negative thinking. They range from the personal early morning "Hurry up, we're going to be late!" to the mid-day business crisis of "The deal isn't going to close!" Another quote goes like this: "Think you can, think you can't, either way you're right!" Again, it's your choice, isn't it?
 
The next time you feel frustration and doubt creeping into your vocabulary, think of a time when you felt really good about a similar situation . . . then replace the negative thought with a positive statement. As another wise individual once said, "Our lives are what our thoughts make of it."
 

Posted 9/24/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace - and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock."  
~ From the movie "The Third Man" (1949)
 
THE CUCKOO BIRD OF HAPPINESS!
 
This passage makes you ponder where our inspiration and our motivation come from. How many great movements came out of times of peace? Not to knock happiness, but complacency tends to breed laziness, unless we keep ourselves aware of the issues that might truly affect us.
 
We're all familiar with the concept of the "starving artist" - rationalized for ages now by saying one must suffer for one's art. Of course, this isn't necessarily true. Plenty of beautiful art and literature has been produced by "happy" people. But isn't it interesting that the most controversial, thought-provoking, and powerful works do in fact come out of suffering and a desire to educate others about suffering, cruelty, and wrong-doing?
 
It seems that people really get motivated by what angers them - when we're happy and complacent, we tend not to get involved in troubling issues. Apathy often arises when we feel that we simply have no say in the result, when we feel disempowered or our vote doesn't really count. But very often our apathy is the result of the fact that overall, we feel pretty good about our situation and feel that we don't necessarily need to get involved - we're happy with the way things are, so let them be and let other people worry about the issues that affect them.
 
It's our problems - and how we handle them - that help us to grow as individuals. Those challenges in our lives force us to find solutions, solutions that sometimes mean changing ourselves in some way, or changing how we interact with others. Too much "smooth sailing" can leave you asleep at the rudder! Try to see your problems and challenges as opportunities to produce something great or effect a change for the better.
 
If you're fortunate enough to say, "I am truly happy with all things as they are in my life," then don't become complacent. Find yourself a cause that you believe in and become involved in its promotion. Your life and the lives of those around you will become better for it!

Posted 9/10/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality."
 
~ Dante
 
STAND UP AND BE COUNTED!
 
Think there's any "moral crisis" going on in our country right now? What about in our city? Our schools? Our neighborhood? Where did it come from, and why are we facing these challenges?
 
We are a country - city - neighborhood - blessed with peace and prosperity. Our daily choices range from which SUV we will drive, to where we will dine next, to how we will redecorate our home this year. Our concerns include our child's upcoming soccer match, whether or not to refinance the house, making "Salesperson of the Year," and taking more time for golf or tennis.
 
With all the choices complemented by our affluence, we have also become compliant, accepting, and politically correct. We strive to please everyone, avoid "rocking the boat," and prefer the status quo. It's so much easier that way, isn't it?
 
In doing so, however, we may also abdicate responsibility for teaching our children the value of principle-centered living. What principles should we be teaching - and practicing? Why not adopt and teach the value of courage, diligence, faithfulness, generosity, cleanliness, honesty, encouragement, frugality, humility, industry, justice, moderation, order, resolution, silence, honesty, sincerity, temperance, and tranquility?
 
Imagine how the world around us would change if we taught and participated in more of these time-honored values. Remember that our country IS our cities, our neighborhoods, and our homes. What begins at the grass roots level - literally in our own backyards - can be spread throughout the world. Abandon neutrality and you can change the world!

Posted 9/2/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"A man's reputation is the opinion people have of him; his character is what he really is."
 
- Jack Miner, conservationist (1865-1944)
 
HOW'S YOUR CREDIT?
 
Ever hear someone say, "I have good credit"? They are probably referring to their credit "rating" - a score bestowed upon them by creditors, banks or rating agencies. Simply stating, "I have good credit" changes nothing, nor does the statement merit the attention of creditors. Credit can only be given by others for service to them, i.e. paying them on time.
 
So, credit is the result of serving others - in many ways. You cannot claim education, victory, experience, success, reputation, or a suave demeanor. Each of these is a gift from others, as a result of your service to them. Friends recognize your courage as a result of your being cool under pressure. Your success is recognized by others only once you have served them well. Knowledge of your career field is recognized by others only after it's been applied to situations in the form of more service.
 
In the accounting world of income and expense, a debit is something paid out, while a credit is something received. Thus all credits are received from others - not by our own making. The debits - what we pay out - are our efforts, persistence, and service. How they are rated is not under our control, but is determined by those served.
 
Without service, there are few rewards. Yet, you've seen those who insist on getting more attention than they deserve. They feel they're being short changed, that they are not appreciated, that they are always the victim. If you look more closely at their contributions, you are also likely to see the dearth of service they are offering.
 
With service, credit follows. It may be subtle or quite visible - but it always follows. Concentrate on what you have to offer and forget the rewards. Those who are served will pick up the tab!

Posted 8/13/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference."
~ Robert Frost
 
FORGET THE LEADER!
 
On the playground of any school, and on any day, you can witness examples of children playing "follow the leader." One hops, skips, or jumps, and all the others follow. As adults, however, many of those children play a variation of that game - called "follow the follower."
 
On the job, they look around, see how someone else is doing their work, and duplicate the effort. What they don't realize is that their fellow employee is also watching someone else. A circular game of "follow the follower" evolves, resulting in a mediocre work force. The same can be true in marriages, education, hobbies, and sports.
 
Consider the story of a telephone operator in a small town. Every day she received a call from a gentleman asking for the correct time. Finally, one day, she asked the mystery caller who he was and why he called every day. His answer? "I'm the one who blows the whistle at the factory each day at noon. I like to be right on time!" The operator laughed and then responded, "Here at the telephone company, we set our watches and clocks by the noon whistle at the factory!"
 
Tired of playing follow the follower? Want to rejuvenate your life? Begin acting like the unique person you already are. See what everyone else is doing . . . and do something different. Strike out in the direction of your own imagination instead of theirs.
 
In the words of Henry David Thoreau, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined."

Posted 8/6/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Lose this day loitering - 'twill be the same story
To-morrow - and the next more dilatory;
Each indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting o'er lost days.
Are you in earnest? seize this very minute -
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Only engage, and then the mind grows heated -
Begin it, and then the work will be completed!"
 
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
 
ENGAGE IT!
 
Ever driven a car? Of course you have, but what makes it move?
 
You enter a car with a standard transmission, place it in neutral, and start the engine. It idles - waiting for what? The engine is running, but you are going nowhere. What must be done to get to your destination?
 
Your vehicle is like your mind and body. Goethe says, "Are you in earnest? . . . Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." He questions whether you are in earnest . . . calls attention to the fact that there is genius, power and magic in boldness. It's like your vehicle idling in neutral. It has the power to take you wherever you want to go . . . yet is goes nowhere - until what happens?
 
"Only engage," urges Goethe. The only thing keeping you from moving is your willingness to engage. Place the transmission in first gear, and what happens? You begin moving - slowly at first. Moving the gearshift into 2nd, your movement speeds up. As it does, you are soon in 3rd, and well on the way to your destination.
 
Goethe speaks of achieving your objectives in life: "Only engage, and then the mind grows heated . . . ." In other words, put your life in gear - get started - get moving! When you do . . . when your "mind grows heated" . . . that which you desire to achieve will be attracted to you.
 
So - what do you say? Are you in earnest?

Posted 7/29/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"You can be happy without expecting others to agree with you."
 
~ Kathleen Russell & Larry Wall, from "Achieving Your Dreams"
 
DON'T TELL!
 
One of Garth Brooks' tunes goes like this: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained - sometimes you've got to go against the grain!" What is this "grain" we seem to fear going against? Chances are it's really what people will think about us for venturing in a new direction - not some immobile obstacle we cannot physically overcome.
 
Author/philosopher Wayne Dyer speaks on this topic in one of his programs. He equates our lives to being in a boat and watching the wake it leaves behind as it moves through the water. He explains that the wake is not what powers us through life, It is merely what we leave behind - our history - where we have been.
 
Often, the "grain" we go against is really someone else's "wake." Others may say something like "That's never been done before," or "We've always done it this way," or "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." That's their wake - not yours!
 
Do you have a dream? Is there something you want to achieve that others might not understand? Don't tell them! It's not necessary to tell anyone what you are doing or planning. If your plan is radical, "they" probably wouldn't understand anyway.
 
So - live your dream. Plan it, execute it, and enjoy it. Make your own wake!

Posted 7/22/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"The best laid plans o' mice and men often go astray." - Robert Burns
 
"What would you do if you weren't afraid?" - Haw (from "Who Moved My Cheese?")
 
DON'T GET TOO COMFORTABLE!
 
Are you enjoying the good times? Have you achieved your goals and become comfortable in the knowledge that you have reached the zenith of your life and career? But wait! Hold on just a minute. What if things were to change suddenly . . . and you ended up back at the proverbial "Square One"?
 
Maybe that's already happened to you a time or two. Perhaps your career took a sudden turn in a direction you hadn't anticipated, or a health problem caught you totally by surprise. What did you do then? Were you paralyzed by fear? Did you feel cheated, or angry? Did you blame circumstances for your new situation?
 
No doubt you are able to rationalize objectively that all of us face change from time to time, that it's a part of life. It's difficult, however, to be objective when change suddenly stares you straight in the eye.
 
Some answers popped up this week to the challenges of change. You'll find those answers in a short, easy-to-read book entitled "Who Moved My Cheese?" Written by Spencer Johnson (co-author of "The One-Minute Manager"), it's the story of two little mice named "Sniffy" and "Scurry" and two little people the size of mice called "Hem" and Haw." The story traces the whimsical challenges faced by these tiny characters as they travel through the maze called "real life."
 
If you have ever been challenged by change in your world, you'll find comfort and sage advice in this simple story. It's waiting for you to read, and it's worth the short time you'll need to absorb the lessons it contains. This is a great story - don't miss it!

Posted 7/15/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
THE SIX MISTAKES OF MAN
1. The illusion that personal gain is made up of crushing others
2. The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected
3. Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it
4. Refusing to set aside trivial preferences
5. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and study
6. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do  
 
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C. - 43 B.C.)
 
COULD YOU IMAGINE?
 
Imagine that you lived 50 years before the birth of Christ. What if one of the educated sages suggested that if you travelled to the ends of the known world he could still carry on a conversation with you? What would you say to him? No doubt, "That's impossible!!!" would have been your answer. Yet, even then, radio sound waves existed. They were undiscovered, but they existed.
 
What if someone said it were possible to travel to the moon and back? Same answer - "Impossible!"
 
Would your answer to those questions be the same today? Think how often we fail to set goals for ourselves because we believe them to be "impossible". We won't even dare to try because of the artificial limitations we place upon ourselves. Just because we haven't seen or heard of something being accomplished before, we assume it to be impossible.
 
So . . . what would you like to accomplish? What steps would you need to take to bring your objective to fruition? The solution, the realization of, the path to your objective already exists - it just lies hidden at the present moment. Because it is not in sight, however, is no reason to assume it is not within your grasp.
 
Sometimes it is necessary to "let go" of the limitations that hold us back. In letting go of the need to control the outcome, we allow our desired objective to approach us without hindrance. If it sounds a little deep and complex, it's really not. For more on this fascinating concept, pick up a copy of Wayne Dyer's "Wisdom of the Ages."

Posted 7/8/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."
~Henry David Thoreau
 
"To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition."
~Samuel Johnson
 
"Before I built a wall I'd ask to know What I was walling in or walling out."
~Robert Frost
 
BUILD A WALL OF HAPPINESS!
 
To affect the quality of anything first requires action of some sort. Affecting is the opposite of passivity. In a passive state we can only BE affected, but we ourselves have no effect on our surroundings or other people. Hold that thought for a moment and consider next the result of your "affecting."
 
Ambition leads to action. Your ambition leads you to affect the quality of the day through some action. So what is the ultimate result of your ambition transformed into action? Johnson suggests it is "to be happy at home."
 
If, as Johnson recites, being "happy at home" is the ultimate result of your ambition, then why are you working so hard? Is there a way to avoid working evenings and weekends? Could you schedule your child's soccer game into the week's plans? Is that next appointment more important than celebrating life with your spouse at anniversary time?
 
One way to affect the quality of your day, which in turn may result in happiness at home, is to "build a wall," to paraphrase Frost. Keep in mind that walls may limit you if they are constructed of heavy gauge steel mesh rimmed with concertina wire. Walls can also be formed as a low hedge or a split-rail fence - even more simply as a line in the sand. Rather than limiting us, they become a mere reminder of how far we are willing to go.
 
As we affect the quality of our life and push our ambition to the limit, we may also make choices about the boundaries of our lives. By choosing sound principles of living, for example, we may say, "No!" to friendships with those who operate outside our boundaries of accepted activities. We may decline meaningless activities, or the occasional committee appointment, which robs us of our valuable time.
 
In the end, WE are solely responsible for affecting the quality of our individual lives. We must choose wisely.

Posted 7/1/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Only the educated are free. - Epictetus
 
READY TO BEGIN AGAIN?
 
Have a child or grandchild who graduated last month?  Whether it's high school or college, commencement exercises mark the end of a full curriculum of education - or do they?  In fact, why not ask the graduate?
 
After four or more years of study, homework, reports, science projects, and exams, many graduates would quickly answer that commencement marks the end of their education.  In fact, you can often hear students reinforce that line of thinking in their lament, "I'll never pick up another book as long as I live!"
 
The definition of "commencement" leads, however, in another direction.  It is the beginning, not the end, of a bright future.  It is the beginning of a life-long quest for knowledge, not the slamming shut of the books that opened so many new doors.
 
If it's been a few years since you graduated, perhaps you might also benefit from a renewed commencement - by opening some new doors to your own life-long learning curve. When's the last time you attended a workshop, bought a taped educational series, or thought about taking college courses or embarking on a new degree track?
 
No longer are books the only on-ramp to education. Distance learning over the Internet, tapes, videos, workshops, seminars, and many other educational resources are yours for the taking.  Why not let your graduating family member be the inspiration for your own commencement?

Posted 6/24/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." ~ George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
 
MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING!
 
When's the last time someone told you it's okay to screw things up? Well, unless you're a neurosurgeon or a ballot counter, it's okay! For most of us, a mistake is an action that can be corrected - it's not usually the end of the world, although we're sometimes made to feel that way. Everyone makes mistakes, so don't let somebody else tell you that your mistakes are any worse than theirs.
 
Of course, we all prefer to succeed rather than to fail. Just remember that most successes actually are the result of at least one failure, if not dozens. Just imagine the realm of scientific discovery - almost every step forward in the name of science really came from taking a lot of steps back! Although trying does not always mean you'll succeed, you'll obviously never succeed without at least trying.
 
Our mistakes are at least a sign of effort (and of room for improvement!). We just have to keep going until we get it right - study harder, pay more attention to details, listen more carefully. There is honor in persistence - you can't be faulted unless you just give up. We're taught from an early age that mistakes are acceptable as long as you learn from them.
 
By focusing only on successfully reaching our destination, we tend to overlook the journey and all we can learn (and teach) along the way. Every mistake is an opportunity from which either we or our peers can learn something. In "Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun," author Wess Roberts illustrates that "every hun is useful, if only to serve as a bad example."
 
We all know the adage about "nothing ventured, nothing gained." If we do nothing, then we teach nothing, learn nothing, and gain nothing. If we are afraid of failure, then we are ultimately doomed to experience it. Embrace life's challenges, do the best that you can do, and be willing to accept the consequences! Make mistakes, but at least make something!

Posted 6/10/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN  ~ Robert Frost
 
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
 

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
 
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
 
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
 
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Posted 6/3/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Money is like manure; it's not worth a thing unless it's spread around encouraging young things to grow."  ~ from "The Matchmaker" by Thornton Wilder
 
LEARNING AND EARNING!
 
A fresh year and a fresh start. Time to size everything up and rearrange our plans for the future. If you have children, maybe 2014 will be the year that you begin to prepare them for their future by beginning their "economic education."
 
In this age of debit and credit cards, Internet shopping and in-your-face advertising, an excellent place to start is by teaching your kids the difference between "saving" and "investing." They might "save" for a short-term goal like buying the latest X-Box game, and they might "invest" toward a long-term goal like college.
 
You can make it fun for everyone by setting up a "mock portfolio," containing companies your children are already familiar with, like McDonald's, Disney and Nike. With that done, show them how to find the stock prices in the newspaper or on the web. Perform some weekly monitoring for a few months, so they can learn to observe market trends.
 
Once they've got their brains around the concepts of diversification, liquidity and the relationship between risk and reward, you and your financial prodigy may be ready to open a mutual fund. Some are actually designed for young investors and provide educational materials.
 
If you don't know enough about investing to teach your child, then this will be a great project for both of you! Franklin Roosevelt observed that "happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort." By making investing fun and creative, you can encourage children (and yourself) to be more involved. It's never too early or too late to begin, and if you haven't already, then make 2014 the year to do so!

Posted 5/27/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

DON'T FORGET TO PACK YOUR INSIGHT!

How wonderful it is to learn new things and see new places! How would we ever grow as individuals if we never experienced anything different from that which we see and do in our daily lives? Two different voyages come to mind, however, when considering the discovery of that which is "new" - an outward journey, and one which turns inward.

Your outward "voyage of discovery" takes you to different places and new people. You begin to understand other things outside yourself. This can be as simple as discovering new-found beauty on a wilderness "adventure," or having an engaging conversation or correspondence with someone from a completely different part of the country or the world. The ultimate goal here is not just looking at new things, but looking at things in a new way! A change of scenery can effect a change of mind.

But you can still experience a voyage of discovery even if you don't travel anywhere, even if you don't meet anyone new. You don't have to change your surroundings, just the way you look at them - with "new eyes!" Sometimes stepping back and looking again at the Big Picture can reveal things that you never saw before. The solution to an ongoing problem can suddenly manifest itself.

This can often be the key to unlocking the door to your happiness - finding a way to change yourself instead of changing what surrounds you. For all those situations that seem to be out of your control, you have to realize that you are always in control of yourself. So much stress comes from frustration. Don't keep running up against that rock that represents your problems. Try to act like the water that simply flows around the rock as it continues its journey downstream. Your inward voyage of change can have dramatic results on how you see what's around you! Enjoy your new outlook!

Posted 5/20/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do . . . Build, therefore, your own world."  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
IF I WERE A CARPENTER . . . !
 
Picture a builder hiring a new framing carpenter to help construct his new homes. The first day on the job, the new carpenter shows up without a tool belt . . . and without any tools . . . and asks, "Where do I begin?" How much progress do you think would be made by the end of the first day?
 
Most of us at some point in our lives are like the unprepared carpenter. We show up, but have no tools, and haven't the slightest clue what we want to build. Within us, we have the power to build any life we choose, yet at day's end, nothing has changed.
 
Oh sure, we actively pursue the day-to-day activities of our chosen career, yet we don't take time to visualize the finished product - our life. Thoreau said it best: "Live the life you've imagined." Steven Covey said it this way: "Begin with the end in mind."
 
To "build your own world," begin by deciding what that world will be like. Next, gather the tools required to begin construction. Finally, begin practicing until you are an accomplished master.
 
If you want to be a renowned musician, choose an instrument, take lessons, and practice eight hours each day. If you want financial independence, determine a method, learn how others have achieved wealth, and mimic their approach and techniques.
 
Just remember, the world you get is the world you chose. It's an awesome responsibility - knowing that what you become is the result of the choices you have made. It's also an awesome opportunity to enjoy all the peace, contentment, freedom and riches life has to offer.
 
Carpe diem! Seize the day!

 

Posted 5/13/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly." ~ Henri Bergson
 
"All things change; nothing perishes." ~ Ovid
 
HAVE YOU SPRUNG FORWARD?
 
The changing of the seasons presents several opportunities throughout the year to consider how life itself changes and how it remains the same. Hearing the first frog calls of spring feels at once reassuring, and also just a little unsettling.
 
It’s consoling to know that the spring will always follow the winter, that autumn will always follow summer, and so on. But of course, the pattern also points to the fact that another winter has got behind us, and while we enjoy the offerings of spring, that winter season is now gone forever, and there is one less winter in the seasons of our lives.
 
But the flowers and birds of spring also remind us of the futility of dwelling on seasons gone by. “Be here now,” they tell us, “because the party’s just starting!” The vestiges of the past year haven’t really disappeared, they’ve only morphed into something different and new (again). And the memories don’t vanish; they persist, unchanged, for as long as our minds can hold them.
 
It’s a basic law of physics that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, so “turn yourself in,” and allow yourself to be subject to the rules of nature. Everything that you can be, you already are. You just have to make the change, like the butterfly from the chrysalis. Then summer will be here before you know it!

Posted 5/6/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance." ~ Samuel Johnson
 
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!
 
How many times have you heard it? "Don't work harder, work smarter." This modern cliche has almost become an annoyance - its meaning seems so obvious that we don't even pay attention to it anymore. But such simple sentiments often bear closer consideration, especially since they become cliched because of their inherent truth.
 
You see, sometimes it really isn't how hard you try. Think back to high school: some students studied for hours for an exam and did poorly, while others studied a few notes and highlights for thirty minutes and got A's. Sometimes it just came down to smarts, but often it came down to how well prepared and organized the students were. Performing well on an exam or project doesn't necessarily reflect higher intelligence - it reflects ability to apply intelligence or strength efficiently. It's qualitative instead of quantitative.
 
Expend great effort inefficiently and you may well end up farther behind than if you expend less effort in a more resourceful manner. The whole goal should be progress, not the total expense of your resources. It's those folks who can analyze and implement an approach that requires less effort who enjoy the greatest success. We all want to minimize our investment and maximize our returns, right?
 
If you find yourself trying so hard and not getting anywhere, you're probably experiencing a deep feeling of discouragement. Help yourself out by looking at changes you can make to help you focus more on the solution to the task. Eliminate energy spent that isn't producing results.
 
Apply a little effort on a consistent and targeted basis, and you'll achieve the progress you're seeking. Jacob Riis observed, "When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before."

Posted 4/16/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Learn to let go. That is the key to happiness." ~ The Buddha

PLEASE RELEASE ME!

Remember the song "Please release me, let me go"? If you've ever felt that someone or something had a hold on you and wouldn't let go, perhaps you needed an "attitude adjustment."

Why? Unless you are literally chained to a wall, people and things don't have a "hold" on you. It is you who have taken hold of them, and refuse to let go. It's so easy to latch on to the situations, relationships, and baggage of others - believing it possible to have some control over their outcome.

The result is never-ending worry, sleeplessness, feelings of helplessness, and other symptoms of being "out-of-control." Anger is another matter - there seems to be so much of it today. TV shows are full of it. Anger is directed at family, the boss, the spouse, or anyone else in sight. Yet anger results from feeling that things or people are not doing what you think should be done. Anger is felt when you can't control the outcome.

The truth is we are only in control of our own lives and actions - nothing more. Buddha had it right when he said, "Learn to let go." Martin Luther said, "Let go and let God." Regardless of who said it, or how it was said, letting go will open many doors of happiness in your future.

Posted 4/8/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"You will become a great philanthropist in your later years."  
 
~ Chinese Fortune
 
THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLES!
 
Today’s quote was lifted from an actual fortune cookie that a friend opened after a recent dinner at the local Chinese restaurant (Lucky Numbers: 34, 15, 26, 38, 17, 8). It’s got to be the best cookie fortune ever! Its positive message is twofold, a doubly wonderful possibility for the future.
 
Becoming a great philanthropist is hopefully founded on the premise of becoming very wealthy, so the fortune seems to imply that not only will my friend become rich, but that he'll also be responsible enough to put that wealth to good use.
 
Capitalism is a “necessary evil” of this global age, and it creates a sense of obligation to help those less fortunate. Or to help them to help themselves, primarily through the improvement of education systems throughout the world.
 
The idea of the dog-eat-dog corporate mentality (see “The Apprentice”) is becoming outdated. Selfishness is no longer in style, and trampling everyone else down is no longer seen as the best road to success. More and more “celebrity” entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Paul Newman, and Richard Branson are teaching a message of social responsibility.
 
Even if my friend never attains the kind of wealth those gentlemen have built, it's still certain that the cookie’s fortune will come true, because everyone has a responsibility to help others, no matter who you are, where you live, or the balance in your back account.

Posted 3/26/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
“So is cheerfulness, or a good temper, the more it is spent, the more remains.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
THE POWER OF NEGATIVE THINKING!
 
"If everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane." We've all read or heard similar humorous observations regarding the idea that, when all seems to be going well, it's merely the precursor to some sort of disaster. Unfortunately, many people seem to base their attitudes on that perception and, even more regrettably, they often permit such negativity to influence not only their lives but also the lives of others.
 
Is it possible you’ve never been guilty of this transgression? When a colleague made a particularly impressive sale, did you ever say something along the lines of "Well, it'll probably take forever to top that one!" or "Too bad you can't do that all the time, huh?"
 
Ever told someone going on a trip that you've been there before and had a terrible time? Even telling a child who brings home a good report card to "Keep it up!" can lessen the moment, because it implies that the current achievement isn't truly enough or that you fear poor performance in the future. Such statements carry “conditional approval” that demands future accomplishment as well.
 
One of the keys to harmony, in the workplace or at home, is for everyone to feel good - about themselves and about their accomplishments. The next time you have the opportunity to make a comment, take a moment and carefully consider what you're saying - and how you're saying it. Squash any negativity right then and there.
 
It's an attitude that’s easy to change once you're aware of it and its effect on those around you. Simply put, view the glass as being half full, not half empty. The power of negative thinking can make an even stronger impression than that of positive thinking, so be careful how you wield that power!

Posted 3/19/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday
afternoon."  ~ Susan Ertz, writer (1894-1985)
 
THE FRENCH CALL IT "ENNUI"!
 
Can you remember the last time you were bored? It’s kind of hard to pull off these days, what with DVD players in our mini-vans, BlackBerries in our pockets, iPods clipped to our waists, and cell phones that surf the net, take photographs, and download the latest sports scores. There are vast numbers of quick and easy diversions available to us at almost any time in almost any place.
 
You’d think that these modern marvels would be welcome harbingers of the Death of Boredom. But does the quantity of the time we devote to such pursuits measure up in quality? In some cases, the argument could be made that doing nothing is indeed better than doing something, and that boredom may not be the adversary we’ve all been led to believe it is.
 
Indeed, boredom is a kind of a dare unto itself. To quote journalist Michael Crowley, “It sets you up on a date with yourself and challenges you to find some chemistry.” Do you feel uncomfortable and awkward during those times when all is quiet and there is no opportunity to bombard yourself with the gadgets of work and of play? Can you make sense of the voice(s) in your head, or do you even want to hear it?
 
Even Superman had to retreat to his Fortress of Solitude once in awhile! If you had time, just a little of it, to be alone and quiet, without any distractions, what do you think your mind would finally formulate? You don’t have to be a Luddite to appreciate the spiritual freedom you can feel when you escape from all of life’s electronic input.
 
Fear of boredom may indicate a fear of oneself. Take some time to confront that anxiety. Sit down on the front porch, back deck, beach, wherever, and be quiet – very, very quiet. You may just hear your imagination calling you – listen!

Posted 3/12/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"The moment of change is the only poem."  ~ Adrienne Rich 
 
SPRING FORWARD! 
 
The beginning of Spring always seems like a good time to appreciate the changing of the seasons, and to ruminate on how the cycle of life continues. The shrubs and flowering plants are all green now, and we're just waiting to see those first beautiful blossoms that symbolize another cycle of death and rebirth. 
 
Sooner than we know it, Spring will blend into Summer, which will likewise end, and then Fall, and finally Winter again. While we certainly look forward to Spring during the chill of Winter, it must be said that even during the Summer we sometimes find ourselves longing for a view through the leaf-barren trees and the first flakes of snow. 
 
But we have to be careful not to look so far ahead that we're missing what's right in front of us! Don't wait to take an opportunity to watch the plants bloom and the hummingbirds return. Waiting until next Spring just won't do. 
 
Ponder how the fluidity of the seasons gives us the chance to realize change in our own lives. It teaches us to learn to accept how everything changes, everything passes, and everything eventually returns. It reveals a spirituality that goes beyond, and yet includes, any religion. We begin to recognize and embrace these ever-changing yet never-changing cycles in nature and ourselves. 
 

If you already abandoned your New Year's Resolutions a couple months ago, why not look at Spring as truly the ideal time to imagine changes you'd like to make? It seems to make more sense at this time of year anyhow, when everything is transforming and thriving and beginning anew, while Winter passes away behind us. And when Winter does come again, how will it find you different? Now is the "moment" to write the first line of your "poem of change."

Posted 3/4/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
 
 ~ Woody Hayes (Ohio State University Football Coach
and WWII Veteran)
 
THE ART OF FAILURE!
 
Have you noticed that there are fewer “losers” in schools these days? That there are more "awards" for achievement than actual accomplishments? There seems to be a trend developing whereby we are afraid to let our children fail.
 
Are you successful simply because you do not fail? What of the lessons of disappointment that go unlearned? The highest achievers lack recognition, while those who place second, third or fourth still get gold medals!
 
It’s no joke – a recent article about a rural youth horse show reported that all of the riders in the class who “placed” took home a BLUE ribbon. This is disastrous. What meaning does winning have when everyone is a winner?
 
We’re robbing our children of the developmental opportunity to fail and then lose their fear of failing. They must lose the championship and learn that the sun will rise tomorrow, and that another season will come with its prospects for victory.
 
Scientist and inventor Charles Kettering once wrote, “We need to teach… that it is not a disgrace to fail and that [we] must analyze every failure to find its cause. [We] must learn how to fail intelligently, for failing is one of the greatest arts of the world.”
 
By all means, do encourage young people to try their very hardest and to enjoy victory when it is theirs. But do not try to protect them from the disappointment of failure when it falls to them. It is an absolutely critical building block in developing their ability to have faith in themselves.
 
We love to see their smiles when they win an award, and we hate to see their despondence when they do not. Now let them experience those same contrary feelings, and continue their growth into the balanced and well-adjusted folks we strive to be!

Posted 2/26/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
"There is only one thing people like that is good for them; a good night's sleep."
 
~ Edgar Watson Howe
 
SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DREAM!
 
How did you sleep last night? Hopefully, you didn't toss and turn worrying about the start of another workweek. A lot of us have trouble these days getting what our minds and bodies need most - rest. We rush around all day, do chores into the evening, don't eat as well as we should, and go to bed later than we ought to. Then we lie awake thinking about everything we did today, and everything we have to do tomorrow. We're so darned tired when we go to bed that we we can't actually sleep!
 
It's a modern day dilemma of our fast-paced, do-more-in-less-time culture. The irony, however, is that our periods of rest and relaxation are vitally important to our success. When we sleep, we heal - and we dream. Bedtime is the time to put aside worries of today and plans of tomorrow - to take a reckoning of the day and be satisfied that you made it through.
 
Try to squeeze in some "downtime" before turning out the lights - some light reading or a little quiet time on the porch or patio. Anything you do to put the day's cares out of your mind will help you sleep when you finally close your eyes.
 
A big factor in clearing your mind? Forgiveness. It has been said that "one of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody everything every night before you go to bed." Whether for ourselves or others, forgiving what's happened today will greatly improve your outlook for tomorrow.
 
Imagine the beauty of going to bed with no anger or regret in your heart. Imagine waking up in that same state. Forgive our hectic world, forgive yourself for trying to do too much. Tonight, relax and let yourself dream.

Posted 2/18/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference."
 
~ Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"
 
PLAYING FOLLOW THE FOLLOWER?
 
Every morning a telephone operator in a small town received a phone call in which she was asked the time of day. One day, the operator asked her mysterious caller why he called every day to ask the correct time.
 
His answer? "I'm responsible for blowing the town whistle every day at noon, and just want to be sure I'm right on the second when I do it." With a chuckle, the operator replied, "Here at the telephone exchange, we set our watches and clocks by the town whistle!"
 
Watch children in a schoolyard and you'll notice the same thing. Children watch the child they perceive to be the leader, and then mimic his or her actions. They never realize that the other child is following the lead of still another.
 
So how will your day play out? Have you made original choices for the day, or will you be playing follow the follower? Either way, by bedtime tonight you will have been awake for about 16 hours and involved in some activity. Why not end the day with thanks - knowing that whatever you accomplished was by choice - not chance?

Posted 2/11/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself. I will be rich by myself, and not by borrowing." ~ Michel de Montaigne
 
PERSONAL BANKRUPTCY?
 
We spend a lot of time worrying about how others see us, how we appear and how we act. It’s a form of self-awareness, perhaps, but how much help does it offer us as we try to appraise our own value? Our personal worth lies not so much in other people’s estimation, but in how comfortable we are with ourselves.
 
At last year's convention of the National Association of REALTORS®, a keynote speech was given by Phil McGraw, the clinical psychologist popularly known as “Dr. Phil.” His take on this week’s quote is to think of your life as a bank account. If you keep making withdrawals without making any deposits, you’ll end up bankrupt.
 
Withdrawals might include things like working late hours, handling emergency situations, mental anguish over money or relationships – you get the idea. We all have a list of activities that drain our energy, whether or not they are for our good or the good of others.
 
Then there are deposits, like taking a vacation, spending time on a favorite hobby, a romantic evening with our spouse or partner. Surely you can think of a lot things you’d love to do, but don’t feel you’ve got that much time to devote to just yourself.
 
In the words of Dr. Phil, “The most important relationship you have in your life is with yourself.” It’s true – how can you possibly nurture successful personal and business relationships if you aren’t happy with who you are and how you feel? Unless you put yourself first, you’ll end up physically and emotionally bankrupt – leaving you with nothing to invest in your relationships with others.
 
You can’t borrow from others what you need to achieve success. You’ve heard it before that it’s never too late to begin building equity – in yourself!

Posted 2/5/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"If your riches are yours, why don't you take them to t'other world?" ~ Benjamin Franklin
 
LEAVE A LEGACY!
 
In one of William Bennett's books, he tells a story about Ben Franklin's death. It seems that old Ben made a special gift in his will. In it, he left 1,000 pounds to the cities of Philadelphia and Boston with specific instructions. They were to set up a program of loans to young men under the age of 25, married, and who had successfully completed an apprenticeship, needing startup money for a trade or business. The money was to be loaned at 5% interest. The loan program was to continue for 200 years.
 
At the end of 100 years, the two cities were to withdraw $100,000 each for public projects, and continue lending the balance as stated above. At the end of 200 years, the fund was to be split between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Boston, and Massachusetts. In the year 1990 there was $6,500,000 in the fund. For 200 years, Ben Franklin helped young men get started in business by making those funds available, and had $6.5 million left over.
 
Just think of the many ways you and I could benefit our families, the community, or the lives of total strangers if we just took the initiative exhibited by Ben Franklin. By setting up a similar fund that earns just 5%, it would contain $17,292,581 at the end of 200 years. The purpose could be educational loans for family members.
 
Set aside $1,000 now and add just $100 per month to it for ten years, earning 5% on loans made from the account, and the fund would have $17,157. After the ten-year period of adding $100 per month, no more money is added and it continues to be loaned at 5% for the next 190 years. At the end of 200 years, the fund would contain $181,141,192. At that point, it could be converted to an outright "grant" program to which family members could apply for education funds.
 
Instead of focusing on just your immediate family, think about the legacy you could leave by planning much further into the future. Thanks to the "future value of money" concept, you could provide valuable support to many future generations. It's just a thought, but why couldn't we give it a try?
 

Posted 1/28/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out." ~ Anton Chekhov
 
IMPROVING THE DAILY GRIND!
 
Conventional Wisdom tells us that life’s most traumatic moments provide opportunity for personal growth and discovery. More often, however, it’s the mundane, everyday trials and tribulations that really push us to discover the scope of both our achievements and our patience.
 
We undervalue our daily functions, simply because we do them on such a regular basis. But consistently performing those “menial” jobs, and consistently performing them well, is the real gauge of accomplishment.
 
Just trying to prevent boredom is a real challenge. You have to be careful not to neglect the “small stuff” as you look ahead to bigger and more exciting things. You needn’t be in “crisis mode” all the time, but do be aware that even your most routine responsibilities are critically important. That’s why you have to do them so often!
 
If you’re becoming bored by your “day to day living,” then you need to “change things up.” You insult yourself with boredom – you have it within you to educate and entertain yourself, to fill your time with activities that develop your mind or your body.
 
This is why so many people actually fear retirement. They fear they’ll have nothing to do. They’ve spent so long on “autopilot” that they have trouble imagining new routines. But there’s always volunteerism, continuing education, recreational activities and hobbies, second careers, and more.
 
If your autopilot has taken command, imagine what you would suddenly try to do if you discovered you had one year to live.

Posted 1/21/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Success is counted sweetest by those who never succeed." ~ Emily Dickinson
 
"Men are all the same. They always think that something they are going to get is better than what they have got."  ~ John Oliver Hobbes
 
HOW GREEN IS YOUR GRASS?
 
Have you been sowing the seeds of your success? Are you prepared for the harvest? Those who are jealous of other people's successes often have no idea of the consequences. Yes, that rose is sweet and fragrant, but watch out for the thorns! That which you would most value always comes at some cost.
 
Picture the most successful person in your office. Now imagine the trappings of their accomplishments - more money means more worrying about money, achievement means maintaining and even increasing that level of achievement, working so hard means having less time for personal pursuits. All the while, the competition is always on their heels.
 
You should respect the achievements of your colleagues, but never be jealous of them. Understand that problems conquered on the way to success are simply replaced by other problems. Max Beerbohm said, "I have known no man of genius who had not to pay, in some affliction or defect either physical or spiritual, for what the gods had given him." Success is a gift, but we know that nothing in life is truly free.
 
It's wrong to believe that "the grass is always greener" on the other side of the fence. Don't cheat yourself into accepting that "the best is yet to come." If that were really true, you would never reach that elusive day when everything is as you wish - it will always be "yet to come." If you just begin to make NOW the best time of your life, NOW will always be the best time of your life, because NOW is the only time in which you live!
 
Sure, give yourself goals and pursue them with all your heart and soul, if that's what truly makes you happy. We all need direction - the desire to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. But don't do it in the hopes of BECOMING happy. Happiness comes from enjoying what you have already achieved and are achieving right now.
 
Respect, don't envy, the accomplishments of your peers and your competitors, and understand that they too must find their own way to accept all the trappings of their success and find happiness. You too may soon learn their secret.

Posted 1/14/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the instruments of the wise." ~ Samuel Lover
 
GIVE YOURSELF A HAND!
 
Success and failure - people love taking credit for their achievements, but often blame outside factors when they fail or fall short. We have the power to accomplish our objectives, but when we fail to use that power to our advantage, we tend to fall back on excuses. The trick is to stop making excuses and accept full responsibility for all of our actions and reactions.
 
Instead of wondering why something happened to you, start wondering how you could have reacted differently. Your response to any given incident defines your power (or lack thereof) to produce the results you seek. Consider the following formula presented in Jack Canfield's book, "The Success Principles":
 
E + R = O, where E is the Event, R is your Response to the Event, and O is the Outcome.
 
Thus, every single Outcome you experience is the direct result of how you Respond to a given Event. The Event is an unchangeable constant, but your Response is the variable that changes the Outcome.
 
Our choice of two options determines our level of happiness and success. Either A. Blame the Event for lack of the desired Outcome, or B. Change our Response until we achieve the desired Outcome. In today's inspiring quote, option A is for the "weak" and option B is for the "wise."
 
An old Swedish proverb says, "The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm." Don't look to outside people or circumstances when planning to achieve your goals. When you realize - and start acting like - you are 100% responsible, it's amazing how much power you feel. Many of the greatest achievers in history faced seemingly insurmountable outside forces, but obviously it was not those forces that were the deciding factor - it was how they faced those challenges. You too can stop making excuses and take control of your reactions and results - and you can start right now.

Posted 1/8/2014

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"We will either find a way, or make one."
- Hannibal (247-183 B.C.)
 
ARE YOU A MARKET MAKER?
 
From well-known author Napoleon Hill ("Think & Grow Rich") comes this story about Napoleon Bonaparte. It seems that he was called the "100,000 man" because despite the size of his army, it seemed to the enemy that he had 100,000 men going into battle with him every time. Just before one successful battle, Napoleon called his officers to discuss the impending clash. One of them told him the battle would have to be delayed because "the conditions were not just right." Napoleon's answer was, "The conditions are not right? I MAKE the conditions - ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK!"
 
Napoleon, you see, was a "market maker" - someone who created the situations required to be successful. He was proactive rather than reactive. He acted upon others, instead of re-acting to them.
 
No matter what your objectives, your success is as close as your ability to act upon your "market." In business, that means choosing to cause others to be attracted to you, rather than waiting for them to call. In your personal life, it means acting upon your family and loved-ones in such a way that peace, harmony, and love are the result.
 
Want to lose weight, have more energy, enjoy greater stamina? Maybe it's time to act upon your own body. That can mean grocery shopping for fruit and nuts rather than snacks and sodas. It can mean treating your body to a brisk walk or strength training rather than more TV (and snacks & sodas).
 
As has been said many times, "Think you can, think you can't - either way, you're right." It's your choice: financial success or failure, stressful living or family peace, low blood pressure and trim body or . . . well, you get the picture.
 
It's not necessary to suddenly become a human dynamo. Choose to act in favor of small changes at first. Watch what happens. For every action, you will see an "equal and opposite reaction." Try delivering a cheerful "Good morning!" to the first person you meet today. Chances are they'll return the gesture with a smile. Go ahead, make your day happen the way you've imagined it!

Posted 12/16/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Too many of us are hung up on what we don't have, can't have, or won't ever have. We spend too much energy being down, when we could use that same energy - if not less of it - doing, or at least trying to do, some of the things we really want to do." ~ Terry McMillan (Cited in The Best of BITS & PIECES)
 

SPREAD THE TABLE!
 
Here we are in the midst of the holiday rush - buying gifts, attending parties, decorating, sending cards, and preparing for the feast of the season. We're doing all this for whom?
 
We tell ourselves it's for the ones we love. We want to make them happy, fill them with joy, and make their world bright. We want to make everything perfect for them at this special time of year.
 
In a way, that's like preparing the holiday feast for those who matter most to us, then eating it for them and commenting on how tasty it was. Truth is - we can't "make them" do anything, we can only spread the table before them.
 
Whether they choose to consume the feast, or be happy doing it, is their choice - not ours. We can give the presents, offer our own good holiday spirit, or bake the cookies, but we cannot "make" anything happen.
 
Epictetus once said, "Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. If you think that you have free rein over things that are naturally beyond your control, or if you attempt to adopt the affairs of others as your own, your pursuits will be thwarted and you will become a frustrated, anxious, and fault-finding person."
 
Why not take a little of the pressure off yourself this holiday season? Feel free to give whatever gifts, energy, creativity, or love you have to offer, but let go of the desire to control the outcome. The gifts that will make the most difference are those that arise from the heart with no expectation of reward.
 
My wish for you is the joy and freedom that results from giving. Happy holidays and best wishes to you and yours!

Posted 12/9/2013

RETURN THIS GIFT, PLEASE!
 
One major holiday down, at least one more to go, and then it’s the New Year. At this time of year, it’s very easy to get caught up in expectations and to lose sight of reality. Some are trying to squeeze an entire year of visits with friends and family into a one-month time frame, while others may be experiencing that certain melancholy that attends the circumstance of not having friends or family with whom to share the joy of the season.
 
Why do we feel so overwhelmed during these last months of the year? Partly, it’s the impression that society has commercialized what should otherwise be an opportunity to gather in love, fellowship and gratitude. Regardless of the warmly glowing lights and the gifts wrapped in glittering paper and bows, the magic is absent.
 
Skeptics of the season find that “nothing is a miracle,” because they feel that the significance and majesty of our holidays have been sucked dry by high prices and higher expectations. However, there are those lucky folks out there who have found that everything is a miracle, not just at the holidays, but also throughout life.
 
It’s time to put on your “miracle goggles” by shunning the exchange of piles of presents and avoiding the bright and shiny department stores. Those things simply confirm our worst suspicions, and rob us of the joy we’re supposed to feel and share with others.
 
This year, your gifts to friends and family could take the form of donations to charitable organizations, given in their name. If you give it some thought, you’d recognize that everyone you know has some cause for which they feel strongly.
 
Remember that Philanthropy always comes in the right size and color, and never needs dusting or ironing. If you’re lucky, this gift just might be returned!

Posted 12/2/2013

MAKE A WISH!
 
Remember when, as a kid, you took the wishbone from the Thanksgiving turkey, set it aside, and let it dry for several days? You probably argued with brothers or sisters about who would get to make the wish. Then, finally, you took one end, made your wish, got the bigger piece and . . . nothing happened.
 
On a recent news interview, someone made the statement that "Hope is not a method." Neither is wishing. On a cold autumn day, you can hope or wish you were warm all day long, but until you turn up the thermostat or build a fire, nothing will change. Action always produces results.
 
So we just “gave thanks” last week for all our blessings. Chances are good that what you call "blessings" did not occur as a result of wishes and hopes. You probably reached out and worked hard - you took action - to allow them to come into your life. If you did - good for you.
 
Not everyone can do that. Unfortunately, a great percentage of the population lives only on hope and wishes. They just do not have the ability to comprehend the concept of cause and effect. Nor do they possess the motivation or skills to act on their circumstances. The result? Their blessings are fewer than most.
 
Since you are blessed with the ability to make things happen, why not reach out this holiday season to those who aren't. Don't expect anything in return, and whatever you do - do it anonymously. You'll be twice blessed!

Posted 11/25/2013

GOBBLE! GOBBLE!
 
Remember when you were a teenager leaving the house on a date? Your parents' last words as you went out the door were, "We'll leave the light on for you". Think about that. So what if they did or didn't leave the light on? Their words were really more of a verbal hug. They cared about you - wanted you to know it - and applied the hug with kind words.
 
With Thanksgiving in just a few days, why not take the time to "leave the light on" for someone who may not get many hugs? There's still time, and it's easy.
 
First, learn who needs hugs. Check with your local fire, police, or sheriff's department. Ask whether they know of three or four families or individuals who could use a hug. Ask also whether they would consider delivering your hugs at the appropriate time. Two groups stand out as needy - the elderly and families with small children. Of course, we're talking about individuals who are experiencing difficult circumstances in their lives, be they physical or financial.
 
Next, consider what type of hugs you have to offer. Perhaps you might prepare three or four Thanksgiving turkeys with all the trimmings. Live in the country where people heat their homes with a wood stove? Deliver firewood. Live in a cold climate? Add some warm socks or a sweater to your dinner box. It's really not that difficult to come up with ideas that would make a difference to your chosen recipients. If you aren't able to provide "things," consider visiting with some nursing home residents. Brighten their day by listening for a while.
 
It goes without saying that our country is truly blessed. Although practically invisible to most of us, however, there are some individuals who are being challenged. They need a hug, and we can brighten their lives by way of simple gestures. Make a family project out of it - involve your kids. Do it anonymously. Afterwards, when you get home, we'll leave the light on for you!

Posted 11/18/2013

THANKS FOR NOTHING!

Who ever heard of an unsuccessful "self-made" man? Does anybody set out to become a failure? Well, of course not, but a lot of people who end up that way often end up finding fault with their circumstances or the people that surround them.

What is so honorable about Joseph Heller's man is that he doesn't blame anyone for his admitted lack of success. And just because he hasn't reached the summit, it doesn't stop him from feeling like a self-made man or taking full responsibility. He's still confident in himself and accepting of his situation.

We should be careful, however, not to confuse acceptance with apathy. Accepting the way things are does not make us weak, because acceptance acknowledges the difference between the things we can change and those over which we have no control. Blame and apathy are the benchmarks of someone who has relinquished their control.
Part of the secret of taking the sour with the sweet is applying your own perspective and coming to grips with your control or lack of control over the circumstances and the results. If you screwed up, well, so be it, as long as you personally accept your responsibility before someone else tries to make you feel incompetent. And if it wasn't your fault, why in the world would you let someone try to convince you otherwise?

Eleanor Roosevelt has been attributed with wisely observing, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." This explains the implied confidence of the gentleman in today's quote. He's not "successful," yet by blaming no one but himself, he avoids the contempt and derision of his peers. In other words, as long as you are comfortable with yourself and your decisions, no one can touch you. Follow your bliss!

Posted 11/12/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

 "Set your purse to fattening." - George S. Clason ("The Richest Man in Babylon")
 
RISE TO THE OCCASION!
 
In 1926, George Clason introduced a series of pamphlets on thrift and financial success which were widely distributed by banks and insurance companies. He used fables, set in ancient Babylon, to make his points. The most famous of them, "The Richest Man in Babylon," is familiar to millions.
 
In the story was a very rich man named Arkad. Arkad was generous with all and spent liberally, yet he grew wealthier with each passing year. A group of friends from his youth approached him, asking how he had amassed such wealth while they lived a lifestyle of mere subsistence. His answer was, "If you have not acquired more than a bare existence in the years since we were youths, it is because you have either failed to learn the laws that govern the building of wealth, or else you do not observe them." The pamphlet then goes on to explain the "Seven Cures For a Lean Purse."
 
So, who are you most like - Arkad . . . or his friends? If you know and practice Arkad's teachings, your primary obligation now is to teach your children, and their children. If you have not been so fortunate as to learn the "laws" and practice them, take heart. It is not too late.
 
In simple terms, "spend less than you earn" is the critical element that produces wealth. It also requires self-discipline, learned behavior, persistence, wisdom, knowledge, integrity, and more. But, hey, why rewrite the book here when you can just order the paperback online? It's an easy read packed with simple to follow steps to financial independence. If you're tired of the stress, worry, and frustration of never having enough, try giving this book a read!"The Richest Man in Babylon")

Posted 11/5/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"What isn't tried won't work." ~ Claude McDonald

READY TO PLAY FEAR FACTOR?

We're all familiar with the idea that the things we really regret are the things that we never did. Our mistakes are easier to live with because at least we dared to achieve something, even if we failed. So when we fear to try, and fear to succeed or fail, what do we do? We complain.

But have you noticed that folks only complain about things that can actually be changed? How useless is it to complain about the weather, after all? A violent thunderstorm may wreck our plans, but we ultimately just accept it and adjust our plans to accommodate Mother Nature. But our real complaints are based on the belief that there is something better out there.

Believing in something better is different from achieving something better. The difference is risk. We may believe there's a better job out there, but we may risk being unemployed to find it. We may believe there is a better partner for us, but we may risk being alone while we search. We may believe there is a better solution to a problem at work, but we risk ridicule when we share our ideas.

How could it be better to just complain about something, when you can actually risk having everything you desire? Charles Dubois wrote that "the important thing is this. To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become." Why have a problem letting go of mediocrity? Why fear accomplishing your dreams and becoming the person you want to be?

Stop complaining to colleagues about your personal life, stop complaining to your spouse about work! Stop complaining to anyone who cannot help you make a change. Go straight to the source of your unhappiness and start working toward your vision. If you know it can better, make it so, or simply remain where you are. Doing nothing risks nothing, but risking something could give you everything!

Posted 10/22/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy." ~ Brian Tracy

 PUT IT IN WRITING!

“How do you get there from here?” A common enough question when you don’t know where you’re going. If you were planning a long trip, you would certainly check MapQuest or a road atlas to verify and write down the directions.

But what about your life, your dreams, your expectations? “How do you get there from here?” Have you bothered to write down the directions? Do you even have a starting point and a destination planned? Here it is – the most important journey you face, and you probably haven’t even written down your thoughts or plans on how to travel.

Writing down your goals and ideas helps to make them more concrete, more real. It helps you realize and take the necessary steps toward achievement. By defining what you want, and your ideas for getting it, you increase the chances that you’ll actually pursue and accomplish your goal.

Don’t know what you want to do? How about thinking of what you “need” to do? Most people have even less of an idea of what they need than what they want. But often, our career choices have more to do with necessity than desire. Yet we all hear that we’re happiest when we’re doing what we love.

A study on “journaling” showed that people who keep some kind of written record of their aspirations are 32% more likely to feel they are making progress in their lives. If a daily entry is too much commitment, at least sit down once a week and write something, anything, whatever comes to you. Thoughts about work, family, food, politics, whatever.

You’ll begin to see patterns and discover things you might have forgotten (or not even known) about yourself. The notion of what you “need” to do will begin to show itself, and then you can begin drawing that road map. Happy motoring!

Posted 10/15/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome trying to succeed."

~ Booker T. Washington

IN-THE-JOB STRAINING?

Ever get that “burned out” feeling? You’re operating at maximum capacity and doing a darn good job of it, but the inspiration and the motivation start to wane. Don’t feel badly about it – after all, you can only really hit a slump when you’ve been experiencing a streak of success! Slumps do not happen to “losers,” because frankly, they’re always in a perpetual slump!

So what can be done when you hit a bump in the road? Dr. Robert H. Schuller once observed that “when you can’t solve the problem, manage it.” Maybe you can’t control whatever outside forces are weighing down on your ability to move forward. You can, however, take a break and take a step back to look at things you actually can control.

If you’re banging your head against a wall, please stop and walk away! If success lies beyond that wall, you’ll have a much better chance of getting there by going around your obstacles and not through them. Walls are not doorways – you need to refresh your perspective and find passage back to your previously winning ways.

Perhaps you’ve just gotten so good at what you do that you’ve forgotten “the basics” of your activities. It’s like you’re operating on “auto-pilot,” and there are a thousand little details that you don’t even think about anymore as you carry on your routine. Take some time to “re-train” yourself. Start by pretending it’s your first day on the job and everything is new.

New employees who have to learn the ropes often bring a fresh perspective that exposes ways to do things more efficiently. Look through your “apprentice” eyes for new ways of working, and it’s a good bet that your performance will improve, and you’ll find yourself operating with renewed enthusiasm. Now, give yourself a bonus!

Posted 10/1/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Lost, yesterday, somewhere between Sunrise and Sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever." ~ Horace Mann

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." ~ Annie Dillard

LOSING YOUR MARBLES?

It’s Monday morning, and we’re back at the office or factory or wherever we work for a living. How was your weekend? Did you do anything important, or fun, or that you’ll remember for some time to come? Were you away from family because you needed to work? You need to remind yourself that you’re losing your marbles.

No, no, you’re not going crazy. Just consider this story of a very perceptive gentleman: He sat down one day and did some arithmetic. Figuring the average person lives seventy-five years, he multiplied 75 times 52 and came up with 3,900. That would be the number of Saturdays the average person would have to experience during their lifetime.

He was already fifty-five years old when he first figured this out, so by that time he had already spent over 2,800 Saturdays. Doing the math, he realized he had only a little over 1,000 Saturdays left if he lived to seventy-five.

He went to every toy store in town, buying out all the marbles they had in stock, and he managed to collect 1,000 marbles. Taking them home, he placed them in a large clear container positioned in plain view. Every Saturday since that day, he removed one marble and threw it away.

If you start now, no matter how many marbles you have, watching those marbles diminish week after week will, without doubt, inspire and motivate you to focus on what’s really important in your life. There is nothing like having a physical manifestation of your remaining time on Earth to get your priorities straight.

In his seventy-fifth year, that gentleman took the last marble out of the jar. He figured if he made it to the next Saturday, he’d been given a little extra time. And isn’t that one thing we could all use a little more of?

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Posted 9/23/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

 "Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little." ~ Edmund Burke
 
"Inches make a champion." ~ Vince Lombardi
 
LESS IS MORE!
 
During an NFL matchup, one of the announcers observed that the favored team’s quarterback had been guilty of trying to do too much on the field. Apparently linemen, receivers, and running backs had not been pulling their weight last season, and the quarterback was feeling all of the pressure to produce a winning performance for the team.
 
What changes did the coaching staff make? For one, they brought in players who could run the ball better and more often, relieving their offensive leader of having to throw so many passes. With other players stepping up their performances, the quarterback didn’t feel so much pressure, and his completion percentage went way up.
 
It’s a classic case of “less is more.” When the pressure is released and we feel that we don’t have to do so much, we actually feel free to do more! We learn to share the responsibility with those who are there to support us when we let go of our “universe will end if I don’t make this work” mentality.
 
By asking others to step up and share responsibility, we become more successful. It should never be up to one person to make the project work, although having a leader helps keep everything organized and focused.
 
The leader understands that success is not all about leaps and bounds. It’s about each individual taking the right small steps that will carry everyone forward. Louis L’Amour wrote that "victory is won not in miles, but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later win a little more."
 
Don’t make the mistake of doing nothing because you think you can only do a little. On the flip side, don’t try to do everything because you feel you must. Sometimes doing less will allow you to do even more.

Posted 9/17/2013


INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Learning is the fountain of youth.
No matter how old you are,
You mustn't stop growing."
 
- Taoist Meditation, Deng Ming-Dao
 
KEEP A YOUNG MIND!
 
Don't believe the phrase "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Creativity isn't only for artists, writers, or musicians. Creativity isn't just what is represented by a canvas or a novel or a song. We can all be creative in our own way, and the most common way that we can all do this is through learning.
 
As long as we continue to learn and to try new things, we keep our minds fresh and young, and we engage in the act of "creating ourselves" continually. Today's world presents plenty of opportunities for learning, especially about the environment, other cultures, and technology. Technology itself provides ever-easier ways of accessing knowledge through computers and the Internet. And no one is too young or too old to start!
 
Look around you at the most vital and energetic seniors you know. What do they have in common? A continuing interest in learning and sharing their knowledge and experience with others - so they are engaged constantly in the process. They keep their minds challenged and young, and in so doing, feel younger in body and spirit. They are certainly different than in their youth, but they continue the learning that began there.
 
Each new phase of our lives brings us new challenges and opportunities for growth. Growing older necessarily means learning new things. We are constantly creating ourselves in this way, and we can adapt ourselves to any situation by that continuing act of creativity that keeps us young.

Posted 9/3/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt
 
TOUGH LESSONS!
 
In an old "Peanuts" cartoon, Sally is making a list while Charlie Brown looks on. Sally says, "I'm making a list of all the things I've learned in life . . ." In the next panel she continues with, "Well, actually, I'm making two lists." Charlie questions, "Why is one list longer than the other?" Holding up the much longer list, Sally explains, "These are the things I've learned the hard way!"
 
It's easy to chuckle a little at the part about "learning things the hard way," isn't it? We've all done that. There's really a more revealing message in this simple cartoon.
 
The short list of things we've learned generally contains lessons that required no effort, or lessons we learned passively, while just listening or observing. For instance, we learned simple courtesies from our first grade teacher. We learned historical names and dates from our history teacher. We learned to tie knots from our scout leader. Our parents taught us to share. The list goes on.
 
The important list, the one that's much longer, contains the things we've learned from experience. These lessons are endless, and no matter how trifling the lesson, we learned one every time we took action. We dared to try a two-wheel bicycle and crashed - several times. We tried out for the school play - and made fools of ourselves in front of friends.
 
By attempting - at the possible expense of our pride, our self-esteem, or our physical well-being - we either succeeded or failed (and learned a lesson). It is our actions that produce results and teach us those valuable lessons. Teddy Roosevelt said it right: "Far better to dare mighty things . . ."

Posted 8/27/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"Thought in the mind hath made us. What we are
By thought was wrought and built. If a man's mind
Hath evil thoughts, pain comes on him as comes
The wheel the ox behind . . .
 
. . . If one endure
In purity of thought, joy follows him
As his own shadow - sure."
~ James Allen
 
GO TO THE GARDEN!
 
The human mind is like a garden. It directly reflects the care and attention given to it. Consider two gardens side-by-side, in the same soil.
 
The first is bursting with color, gives off the most delicate of fragrances, is free of weeds, and forest green. New buds continually replace each other, and it's a delightful place to spend a sunny day.
 
Just a few feet away, you encounter a musty patch of stunted leaves, few blooms, parched soil, and insect infestation. The few plants remaining beg for a kind word and attention of any kind. They look sad from their days of inattention.
 
Why is there such a disparity between the two gardens? The first has a gardener, while the second has been totally ignored. And just as an untended garden will fail to prosper, so will an untended mind.
 
Imagine how easy it is for the mind to wither and atrophy when attention is not paid to its simplest needs. The mind can be so creative, unless it is fed passive TV drivel hour after hour. The mind can be so enthusiastic, unless powered by a body nourished by fast food, chips, sugar-filled cereal, and caffeine-packed soft drinks.
 
Just as a vibrant garden inspires, a well-tended mind can bring forth the best in others. It deserves our attention. It should be watered and fertilized with foods filled with the proper nutrients. It can be expanded greatly through the stimulation of education. It can remain viable only through the practice and application of solid principles.
 
When the care given is incongruous with the results desired, the garden is a disaster. When the mind's actions do not match its stated objectives, chaos is the result. Our minds have the potential to bloom more abundantly than any garden. They deserve our utmost attention.


Posted 8/20/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time." ~ Abraham Lincoln
 
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!
 
Weddings. Graduations. Birthdays. Holidays. An endless list of important occasions. We all have major events in our lives and others’ lives in which we participate. We and people close to us have sometimes exerted tremendous effort organizing celebrations with the intention that everyone involved will enjoy themselves.
 
In other words, we actually make plans to be happy and to have a good time. We even map out entire blocks of days in which to have fun in the form of vacations. We develop hobbies in order to ensure that we can devote some hours of our week doing something we know we'll enjoy.
 
While looking back over some of the happiest, funniest, most fulfilling or most moving experiences in your life, however, how many of them were in fact not planned at all, but completely spontaneous?
 
If you stop and think about it, you'll probably find that your life is full of these moments, these small events during the course of an otherwise average day that you will retain in your memory as meaningful and recall with pleasure.
 
It may be as simple as a gathering around the proverbial water cooler that evolves into a joke fest that you later remember as the time you laughed harder than ever before. Or it could be as complex as a first meeting with a person who eventually becomes extremely prominent in your life.
 
Every single day is full of opportunities to become a day that you'll remember, a day with moments that add up to a lifetime of memories. The trick, of course, is to make yourself aware of that NOW, and to enjoy these moments while they are happening.
 
The chances are excellent that today... or tomorrow... or this week... will bring you many of these moments. Be open to them. Plan to enjoy this day, and have a great holiday!


Posted 8/13/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." ~ Michelangelo

 
ELIMINATE THE NEGATIVE!
 
"You can't do that! You're not smart enough to accomplish such a thing! Your grades aren't high enough. You're too short (or too tall). You'll lose everything if you try that. Are you crazy - it won't work."
 
Ever have a relative, friend or business acquaintance who used those types of negative comments to influence you? Being on the receiving end of such dismal drivel doesn't do a lot for your self-esteem, does it?
 
As Wayne Dyer has said, "No one knows enough to be a pessimist." Do the ones who make negative comments have a positive record of life successes? Are they happy? Can they back up their dreary outlook on life with proof that "the sky is falling?" Does their knowledge level inspire you to follow their low aim? Are you drawn to them as positive role models?
 
Ever notice how winners like to be around other winners? It's uplifting, isn't it? Their aim is high. They believe in themselves, their abilities, and their future. Their smiles encourage growth and peace. We're not just talking about financial winners here. Think of those around you who love their families, encourage their children in school, and uphold high principles in a world of low morals
 
Aiming low, or refusing to take aim at all, encourages, promotes, and justifies mediocrity. Don't ever be afraid to reach high or aim for the stars. Eliminate the negative from your relationships. It will free you to see the beauty that abounds in this unlimited world.
 

Posted 8/5/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"You can never get enough of what you don't need to make you happy." ~ Eric Hoffer
 
ARE YOU A BARGAIN HUNTER?
 
When’s the last time you went to shop at a store because they were advertising a big sale? Or pulled over to check out the offerings at a weekend yard sale? Or spent an hour browsing through listings on eBay?
 
We all love to get a bargain when we shop, but remember that value is determined not by what you pay but by what you get. Even if it’s a bargain, how ultimately satisfying is your purchase?
 
It seems to have become second nature to accumulate stuff – call it collecting, if you will. How many “treasured pieces” do you have stored away in your attic, basement or boxes in your closet? Sometimes what we can’t seem to live without ends up becoming “treasure” for the next bargain-hunter who comes to OUR yard sale!
 
In our acts of acquisition, is it possible that we’re actually looking for something more meaningful, more precious? Are we overlooking gifts of much greater value? Albert Camus once wrote, “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Happiness will find you if you simply stop trying to find (or buy) it.
 
Those who always want more (of anything) will never have enough of it. There is no end in sight once the search begins, until finally the search turns inward and we realize that we can be happy with what we’ve already got. With so many people who are so much less fortunate than we, how could we possibly want more for ourselves, unless it is to help others?
 
The next time you reach for that irresistible bargain, reconsider its value in The Big Picture and the satisfaction it will offer over time. Maybe something of even greater value is already within your reach...
 

Posted 7/30/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"God is in the details." ~ Mies van der Rohe, architect
 
"The devil is in the details." ~ Unattributed
 
WHAT GIVES?
 
People often characterize themselves as either "big picture" or as "detail oriented." Truth be told, we need to be a little of both.
 
Accounting for the details often brings images of sweating over the small stuff. If we've got a good view of the big picture, why fret the details? Whether in an architectural rendering, or for a dinner party, or in a contract, details definitely help transform an idea into a full-blown reality. Just as importantly, the very thought that goes into those details gives us the opportunity to be creative in our actions. Our attention to “the little things” shows our craft with tools, our skill with clients, or our ability with language.
 
Some confuse detail with flash, but even the simplest home can still illustrate its detailing in how well it is constructed and how gracefully it uses space. A good manager understands how environment, scheduling, praise and celebration can increase morale and productivity.
 
By not letting the little things slip by us, we are able to gain a much deeper understanding of another person, a job at hand, and even ourselves. Such attention to detail is beneficial to everyone involved, and that's the point.
 
Forget those details and that’s when the devil appears! The Big Picture is an absolute necessity, yes. You’ve got to be able to visualize your goals. Just don't forget to plan for and paint in not only the necessary details, but also those that that reflect your personality through their beauty, art, and skill. If you can just work it through, you’ll find that sometimes your devils are really angels in disguise!
 

Posted 7/23/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"I compensate for big risks by always doing my homework and being well-prepared. I can take on larger risks by reducing the overall risk."  ~ Donna E. Shalala
 
WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
 
There has been a very amusing but very telling commercial on television in recent times. If you haven’t seen it, try to guess what it might be promoting...
 
The scene is set in a small Italian village, with excited townsfolk lined up on a bridge spanning a wide river. A man stands at the edge of the bridge, with large “wings” constructed of fabric, metal and wood attached and spread wide on his back.
 
The man jumps, the onlookers gasp, he begins to flap madly, and then soars beautifully over the water. The crowd goes wild, cheering, “He can fly! He can fly!” But one wizened old gentleman in their midst turns to admonish them, “But he can’t swim...”
 
The next frames show the great innovator crashing into the river, and presumably meeting his demise. It’s no “accident” that this ad is for an insurance company!
 
Just as we should never fear to push our boundaries or attempt great things, we should also never overlook the possibility of failure. We also shouldn’t remain so focused on our goal that we ignore all other possible outcomes.
 
Confidence is a critical ingredient of success, but humility is what carries us through to our ultimate goal. The fact that the Titanic sank has been a popular illustration of this principle, “pride before the fall.” Like our friend in the insurance commercial, even Icarus did not consider that the wax in his wings would melt if he came too near the Sun.
 
The next time you begin a project, consider writing yourself an “insurance policy” before you start. First, visualize the goal and the best way to get there. But then, imagine all the things that might come up along the way that may have an adverse effect on the proceedings.
 
Finally, imagine the impact that your success may have on you and those around you. What might change or go wrong after the fact?
 
None of us can predict the future, and we mustn’t avoid greatness for fear of failure. We simply need to be smart in our approach and anticipate problems before they arise. Preparation can prevent a glitch from becoming an all-out debacle. Make sure you pack your floatation device!

Posted 7/17/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"I compensate for big risks by always doing my homework and being well-prepared. I can take on larger risks by reducing the overall risk."  
 
~ Donna E. Shalala
 
WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
 
There has been a very amusing but very telling commercial on television in recent times. If you haven’t seen it, try to guess what it might be promoting...
 
The scene is set in a small Italian village, with excited townsfolk lined up on a bridge spanning a wide river. A man stands at the edge of the bridge, with large “wings” constructed of fabric, metal and wood attached and spread wide on his back.
 
The man jumps, the onlookers gasp, he begins to flap madly, and then soars beautifully over the water. The crowd goes wild, cheering, “He can fly! He can fly!” But one wizened old gentleman in their midst turns to admonish them, “But he can’t swim...”
 
The next frames show the great innovator crashing into the river, and presumably meeting his demise. It’s no “accident” that this ad is for an insurance company!
 
Just as we should never fear to push our boundaries or attempt great things, we should also never overlook the possibility of failure. We also shouldn’t remain so focused on our goal that we ignore all other possible outcomes.
 
Confidence is a critical ingredient of success, but humility is what carries us through to our ultimate goal. The fact that the Titanic sank has been a popular illustration of this principle, “pride before the fall.” Like our friend in the insurance commercial, even Icarus did not consider that the wax in his wings would melt if he came too near the Sun.
 
The next time you begin a project, consider writing yourself an “insurance policy” before you start. First, visualize the goal and the best way to get there. But then, imagine all the things that might come up along the way that may have an adverse effect on the proceedings.
 
Finally, imagine the impact that your success may have on you and those around you. What might change or go wrong after the fact?
 
None of us can predict the future, and we mustn’t avoid greatness for fear of failure. We simply need to be smart in our approach and anticipate problems before they arise. Preparation can prevent a glitch from becoming an all-out debacle. Make sure you pack your floatation device!

Posted 7/9/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"The first half of our life is ruined by our parents and the second half by our children." ~ Clarence Darrow  
 
TOUGH LOVE!
 
Of course we all love our children, but who doesn't chuckle when he reads this quote? Perhaps we have all secretly begrudged the behavior of our kids, whether they're five years old, fifteen years old, or even fifty! We try so hard to teach them the lessons our parents tried so hard to teach us, and then we're actually surprised when they toss out all our advice and decide to make their own mistakes (just like we did?).
 
Sometimes our love for our children drives us to blindly support or overprotect them. And sometimes we are driven to give them so much that we have little (time, money, energy) left for ourselves. Al Bernstein said, "If you want to recapture your youth, just cut off his allowance." That is, sometimes the best answer for your child (and yourself) is "No."
 
They may not like this answer, and it may be even more difficult for you than for them. How can any loving and reasonable parent refuse their son's or daughter's request for help, be it monetary or otherwise? Because sometimes the hardest lessons cannot be learned from sage advice or throwing money at a problem.
 
As a parent, it may be one of the most difficult questions we'll ever have to answer. Where do we draw the line for satisfying their needs while putting ours aside? Of course, that answer will vary from parent to parent, child to child, situation to situation. I'm not trying to put on Dr. Dobson's hat, but at some time in our lives, many of us may reach that point where it's time for our children to take responsibility for their actions and grow into strong and independent adults. Just like us, right?

Posted 7/3/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 

"Forgiving those who hurt us is the key to personal peace." ~ G. Weatherly
 
HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE HAPPY?
 
You've been hearing about this sort of thing on the news lately - people who have suffered a terrible loss at the hands of violent criminals, but still find it in their hearts and minds to forgive those who have trespassed against them. Their interviewers pose questions like, "How in the world can you forgive the man who killed your daughter?" or "How do you find the strength to pardon someone who has wronged you so horribly?"
 
These people are often guided by their faith, but they sometimes surprisingly answer that their anger and hatred would simply kill them if they did not find a way to get rid of their negative emotions. Before they find a means of forgiveness, they develop ulcers, grey hair, migraine headaches, digestive disorders, and so on.
 
These people end up realizing that the only way back to health - both mental and physical - is to come to peace with the tragic events that have affected them. They come to realize that they have no control over these events, and they even discover a way to erase any of their own guilt associated with the events. Anger, accusation, guilt, hatred - we all know the mental toll that these emotions take, but all these emotions eventually manifest themselves physically as well.
 
Hopefully you haven't experienced the kind of loss that these people have, but you can try to learn their difficult lesson. Let go of negative emotions associated with things that are out of your control. You can find personal peace and well-being in the satisfying feeling of forgiveness. It may not even be a specific person that you are forgiving, but maybe just a set of unhappy circumstances.
 
Take steps this week to identify something or someone that you feel negatively about. Search your heart and your mind for a way to understand that the longer you feel so badly, the worse it will continue to make you feel. Take back the control you've relinquished to people and circumstances around you. You can rise above the negativity around you and create something positive and inspiring.
 

Posted 6/10/2013

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
 
"If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet." ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer 

 

PREDICTION VS. PRODUCTION!
 
If you’re familiar with many “motivational” speakers and writers, you’ve probably heard or read a hundred times that you must make a “declaration.” It seems that without uttering your deepest desires, they will not come to fruition. Want a better job? Then you must declare that it will be so. Want a fitter body? First you must affirm you will have one.
 
But be aware of the definition of motivation, “the reason one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.” Just stating that something will happen is not enough – you must “act” or “behave” in a very specific fashion to make that dream come true.
 
Declarations comfort us, enthuse us, and even energize us, but only for a short period of time. After the initial emotional rush of acknowledging our desire to pursue something, our energy wanes, other issues become more pressing, and we lose sight of our goals. Unfortunately, when the outcome we visualized doesn’t happen, we feel disappointed and our self-esteem takes one on the chin.
 
The vicious circle completes itself when we make our next declaration, recalling previous shortfalls, and losing our enthusiasm even more quickly. We say, “Ah, these affirmations don’t work. Just saying it doesn’t make it true.” EUREKA!
 
Now you realize that success doesn’t come from motivational “tricks,” but from a profound effort to produce the desired outcome. Of course you must acknowledge (if only to yourself) what you want in this world, or you’ll just drift aimlessly. But be sure to follow through with a solid plan that anticipates plenty of detours.
 
Want a better job? Declare it will be so, and then start taking courses in that field, find a mentor, polish your resume, and apply for the positions for which you have qualified yourself. Want a fitter body? First affirm that you will have one, and then sign up for a fitness club membership, actually go to the club regularly, stock your shelves with healthy food, and eat less of it.
 
So, become a prophet of positivity! Go ahead, predict your future success! But make sure your prophecy is self-fulfilled!

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