Morning Coffee Archives

Morning Coffee Archives

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


August 13, 2018

Inspiration for today:

“You will become a great philanthropist in your later years.”~ Chinese Fortune

Sharing the Fortune Cookie

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 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 for some, it creates a sense of obligation to help those less fortunate. Or to help them to help themselves, primarily through the improvement of education and health systems throughout the world.

The idea of the dog-eat-dog corporate mentality is becoming outdated.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 well-known people like Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet are, via philanthropy, teaching a message of social responsibility.

Even if my friend never attains the kind of wealth those mentioned have built, it's still certain that the cookie’s fortune can 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.


August 6, 2018

Inspiration for today:

“This game is won 90 feet at a time.”--Steve Stone

Play Ball!

Which do you think is more important, a home run or a single base hit? Most of us would choose a home run - especially a grand slam home run. Most of us were also brought up to believe that someday our "ship would come in" - that all of our success or wealth or whatever would arrive at once, in one grand port call. Funny thing is, more baseball games are won with base hits than with home runs. And most ships arrive slowly in port--guided by tiny tugboats--and only after having navigated the wide oceans through a series of thousands of minor navigational corrections.

Big wins and successful journeys occur most often as the result of daily decisions--not life-altering, once-a-year, mega-decisions. Want to lose weight? It won't happen because you vow on January 1 to do it. It will be the result of your daily decision to walk, run, or work out, as well as your daily, even moment-by-moment, commitment to ingest only healthy foods and avoid junk are the ones that will win the dieting game.

The same holds true for success in your projects. While a master plan at the beginning is important, it's really the steps taken each day that produce the results. If you want the final outcome to be great, don’t skip steps, take your bases one at a time, and you’ll soon be scoring a run, 90 feet at the time.


July 30, 2018

Inspiration for today:

“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose…”—Mary Pickford

A Personal Commencement

Have a child, grandchild or friend’s child 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?

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 "commence" however, doesn’t mean the end of anything.  It is a beginning. And that means that a commencement can be the beginning of a new quest for knowledge, not the slamming shut of the books that opened so many doors.

If it's been a few years since you graduated, perhaps you might benefit from a commencement of your own. When's the last time you attended a workshop, bought a recorded educational series, or thought about taking college courses or embarking on a new degree track?

No longer are brick-and-mortar classrooms the only on-ramp to education. Distance learning over the internet, podcasts, videos, workshops, and seminars are just some of the educational resources that are yours for the taking.  Why not let your graduating family member be the inspiration for your own commencement?


July 23, 2018

Inspiration for today:

"The only people to get even with are those who have helped you."              ~ Anonymous

Getting Even

Most of us can probably look back over our lives and careers and recall people who have either helped or hindered us along the way. Which group do you think is more worthy of your consideration?

Unfortunately, many people spend too much time worrying about how they’ve been wronged. The bad stuff tends to stick in our minds, and we’re less inclined to recall the positive deeds and actions. While we may LEARN from our negative experiences, we can actually TEACH by demonstrating our positive attitude.

Instead of focusing on those around you who make decisions that set you back, or whose incompetence is driving you nuts, try to take some inspiration and guidance from those who have mentored you or shown an exceptional level of performance. Fight back against those negative influences by raising yourself to the next level.

The most successful and inspirational people around us generally achieve their accomplishments for a greater good. They’re unselfish in their success. They work hard to promote the strength of their company, not just themselves. They volunteer by helping to feed the hungry, visit the lonely, and support those in need. One is not selfish for pursuing one’s own good – selfishness comes from neglecting the good of others.

John Andrew Holmes said, "The entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others." No matter how much you focus on your own goals and achievements, you’re not a fully developed individual until concern for others starts to become more important than concern for yourself.

So don’t dwell on getting even when you’ve been wronged – it’s a waste of your time, and can’t produce any positive results. Think more about getting even when you’ve been done right! Then you’ll find more and more good things coming your way!


July 16, 2018

Inspiration for today:

"Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify." -- Henry David Thoreau

Go Retro--Simplify

You've heard that it's good to "take time to smell the roses." You may have also read how Steven Covey encourages you in "Seven Habits" to take time to "sharpen the saw." You no doubt have also experienced the frustration of trying to find even a spare moment for yourself.

Why do so many sources advise taking time off for yourself for thoughtful introspection? Don't they know it's impossible in today's fast-paced world of money, soccer games, career challenges, family responsibilities, church & school activities, and so much more?

In fact, our society is totally preoccupied with all of the above. For those living in a big city, or even the suburbs, the pressure is even greater. Those who live in rural areas can enjoy a little peace and serenity from their surroundings.

How did this happen? It's simple - or at least it was as late as the 1950's. Back then there were two kinds of soap - Lifebouy and Ivory. There were four automakers - GM, Ford, Chrysler, and American Motors. There were no computers or Internet, and long-distance meant an expensive phone call.  Families watched "I Love Lucy!" together. There was no MTV. Children spent more time outside at play.

Today the choices that face us each day are awesome. Which of many Internet providers or meal kit service is best? Which cell phone or tablet should you have? Where will you find the money for the special dress, chauffeur, and professional photographer required for your daughter's fifth-grade "prom"?

The world is spinning so fast, and isn't likely to slow down soon. Modern technology and inventions are great, but there's nothing wrong with looking back at simpler times for inspiration to slow down.  While you can't change the world's pace, you are free to change and simplify your own life.

“Simplify, simplify.”


July 9, 2018

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.

Several years ago, Phil McGraw, the clinical psychologist popularly known as “Dr. Phil,” was the keynote speaker at the convention of the National Association of REALTORS®. 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!


July 2, 2018

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)

Mistakes Are Better Than 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!


June 25, 2018

Inspiration for today:

“Skill in the art of communication is crucial to a leader's success. He can accomplish nothing unless he can communicate effectively.” ~~Norman Allen


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. Texting “shorthand” 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!


June 18, 2018

Inspiration for today:

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together… ~~Vincent Van Gogh

Great and Small

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 great 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, but 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.


June 11, 2018

Inspiration for today:

"Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is." ~~Ernest Hemingway

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? Take in consideration a woman who had to use what she had. She had just returned from vacation the day before her garden club’s competition 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 from windblown seeds.

She headed back to the house and began her arrangement, using a coffee can as a pot, hidden 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 entry bouquet, 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 contest requirements for proportion, suitability of container to its contents and beauty, as well as originality.”

This woman “made 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!


June 4, 2018

Inspiration for today:

“It is time I stepped aside for a less experienced and less able man.” ~~Scott Elledge

Masters of the Universe

Today's quote has got to make you laugh. Professor Elledge had a clear concept of his intelligence and qualifications, but also a sense of humor about his confidence in himself (or lack of confidence in others!). Then his words make us start to think about how we perceive our own talents, and how unwilling we might be to "let go" of some of our control, meaning our control over our responsibilities and tasks - what we are expected to do and how well we are expected to do it.

What happens when the time comes to relinquish some of that control? Perhaps you have finally gotten to the point of needing an assistant or - horrors - training someone else to perform your duties. Personal confidence is a superb trait, to be sure, but what happens when that confidence makes you feel like you're the only person in the world who can handle what you do? Maybe it's time for a reality check.

If you have these feelings, it's possible that you've already got too much responsibility in the first place. Sometimes it is very difficult to give up some of your responsibilities out of the fear that someone else will just "screw it up." Did you know how to do everything your job involves on the first day you started? A time always comes to let someone else learn how to do things, and allow them to help you if necessary.

Chances are that we all started out as "less experienced and less able," and along the way we surely made our own mistakes, learned and coped and ended up where we are today - masters of the universe! So don't worry about relinquishing some control - in the end it often proves to be better for you and for whomever needs to develop the experience that led to your own success!


May 29, 2019

Inspiration for today:

“The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.” ~~Arthur Schopenhauer

The French Call It "Ennui"

Can you remember the last time you were bored? It’s kind of hard to pull off these days, with 24-hour television channels, on demand videos, and conversations and games on phones in the palms of our hands.  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 for 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 monk 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 quiet. You may just hear your imagination calling you, and boredom will cease.


May 21, 2018

Inspiration for today:

Sometimes we miss happiness by looking too far for things nearby.

- Anonymous

Just Ask Dorothy

You've probably seen it a dozen times - "The Wizard of Oz." It's a delightful tale of fantasy, complete with munchkins, a scarecrow in need of a brain, a yellow brick road, a wicked witch and a mythical wizard with the imagined power to send Dorothy back to Kansas.

Regardless of the fantasy, the beautiful color, the unusual characters, and the whimsical plot, there is a powerful message that comes as one of Dorothy's last lines as she prepares to leave Oz. She says, "If ever again I go looking for my heart's desire, I won't look any further than my own backyard." It's such a simple statement, yet it carries a lesson for all of us.

How often do we look outside our own world of home and family for "our heart's desire?" There are so many distractions that lure us out of our own backyard: careers, shopping, powerful people, sports, clubs, TV, committees, the Internet, and the list goes on. There's so much to do and so little time. Then one day we look and our own backyard no longer seems to exist.

We should take time to smell the roses in our own garden, rather than looking over the fence and down the yellow brick road to see the roses of others. We need to let go of the imagined - the tin man, lion, and scarecrow of our own making - and appreciate the real Auntie Em's in our lives. If we don't, we may wake up one day to realize we're "not in Kansas anymore."


May 14, 2018

Inspiration for Today:

"There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something." - Henry Ford

It's More Than a Job

There’s a suggestion that’s commonly offered to people who have suffered some degree of trauma or tragedy. You’ve probably heard or even said it yourself: “You’ll begin to return to normal once you get back to work.”

But why is that, exactly? Why would working make us feel better? Researchers in Sweden have been studying what makes us happy, and they’ve discovered an interesting twist. Working to achieve a goal, even more than attaining that aim, is what makes people most satisfied.

Of course, there is a caveat. Hard work is satisfying, but only if it suits you, by using your particular strengths and skills. Otherwise, it can be downright demoralizing if you’re working at something you don’t enjoy.

A small business magazine recently interviewed Jim Koch, founder and chairman of Boston Beer Company, which produces the very popular Samuel Adams (brewer and patriot) beers. Koch’s choice of career dismayed his father, and others thought he was crazy for trying to craft and market a great American beer.

However, his pursuit of what he loved ended up paying big dividends. While his success story might not be typical, he offers this advice: “I always tell people that if you are going to start a business, the chances that it is going to make you rich are actually very small, almost infinitesimal. But if you pursue something that you really love, the odds that you make yourself happy are really pretty good, and that’s the real prize.”

Hopefully, you love (or at least enjoy) your work, whether it’s writing, managing the household, real estate transactions, or any variety of activity or employment. If not, you might need to reassess, and finally discover and pursue what it is that will make you happy. Don't wait - start now!


May 7, 2018

Inspiration for today:

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

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!


April 30, 2018


"There is only one thing people like that is good for them; a good night's sleep."  ~ Edgar Watson Howe


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.


April 23, 2018


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


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.


April 16, 2018


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


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.


April 9, 2018


"It is best to act with confidence, no matter how little right you have to it."  ~ Lillian Hellman


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!


April 2, 2018


"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  


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!


March 26, 2018


"People fail forward to success."  ~ Mary Kay Ash


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!"


March 19, 2018


“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”


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!



March 12, 2018


"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


"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…"


March 5, 2018


"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


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!


February 26, 2018

"Your imagination is the preview to life's coming attractions."
~ Albert Einstein

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!


February 19, 2018




"No matter where you go, there you are."

~ Unknown




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."




"To have a friend, you must first be a friend."
- Unknown

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!




"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


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?


"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?")
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!



"Learning is the fountain of youth.

No matter how old you are,

You mustn't stop growing."

~ Taoist Meditation, Deng Ming-Dao


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.



"We can’t always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future."

~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt


We all think about investing for the future. But what about investing IN the future? It's a worn cliche that "the children are our future," but it's become a cliche for a reason - it's true!

Are you one of many who feel a pang of regret when considering what kind of future we are leaving for our kids? If you don't feel like you can do enough to "build the future," then maybe you could investigate how to "build our youth." If you're apprehensive about the shape of things to come, take some solace in the fact that our world's youth has the power to change the negative impact previous generations may have had.

Look closely at the local school system, child welfare programs, foster care agencies, and the like. Do you see room for improvement? Are you happy with the level of education that your child and his classmates are receiving? What if it were your little boy or girl trying to make their way through welfare or foster care? It's not pleasant to think about, but remember, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls," because it could easily one day toll for you or someone close to you.

Start on the local level and work your way up, by contacting city commissioners, education boards, county officials, state legislators, even the President of the United States! Visit and click on "CONTACT." You'll find addresses, phone numbers, faxes, and emails to help you reach the right people and express your comments on this important issue.

Help build your children for the future by spending time encouraging their creativity and intellectual curiosity. Get involved in their activities, become friends with their friends, try to sit down for one meal a day and talk about the news in school, your town, your state, your country, the world.

If you don't have children, consider mentoring or sponsoring a child in need. Offer to tutor, go to a meal or two, attend a sports or entertainment event. Your investment could yield the highest returns you'll ever see - in yourself, our children, and our future!

Posted 1/8/2018


"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 


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!



"The manner in which it is given is worth more than the gift." ~ Pierre Corneille (1606-1684) 


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? 



"Money often costs too much."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest."

~ Henry David Thoreau


A cartoon recently ran on the editorial page: A very large sport-utility vehicle was releasing a large belch while someone's hand desperately reached out from inside the fuel door, a gas pump lying on the ground beneath. This humorous observation on rising gas prices immediately brought to mind the question, "Are we the consumers, or the consumed?"

As the rising cost of fuel forces prices for everything else to rise in tandem, we are likewise forced to consider just how much we're willing to consume and at what cost. As you plan for your future and retirement, forget about all the hoopla surrounding the privatization of Social Security and consider another strategy: Don't spend your money (or at least not as much of it as you have been)!

Think what you might get for $1,000: a new sleeper couch, 2 Super Bowl tickets, a riding lawnmower, a three-day weekend getaway? Regardless of how useful or entertaining any of these options might be, imagine how much $1,000 could really cost you.

Let's say you're thirty years from retirement and are lucky enough to be managing a mutual fund with a steady return of 10%. (That's really not unreasonable if you are highly pro-active and educated in your investments.) If you spend that $1,000, instead of contributing it to your investment fund, you'll have reduced your future savings by at least $17,400!

Do you want that $1,000 now or do you want that $17,400 in the future? Play around with the figures all you want, but the truth will remain constant: wealthy people get that way and stay that way by pinching pennies. Keep your goals well in sight, and avoid the temptation to be consumed by consumerism!



"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


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.



"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust


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!



"The quality of mercy is not strain'd, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."

~ William Shakespeare


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!



"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

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!



"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


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 . . ."



"Your imagination is the preview to life's coming attractions."

~ Albert Einstein


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!



"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


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!



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

~ Epictetus


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."



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

~ Abraham Lincoln


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.



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

~ Unattributed


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


"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


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


"A penny saved is a penny earned."

~ Ben Franklin


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


"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


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


"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


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


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

~ Tom Lehrer


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


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."


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

"Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out." ~ Anton Chekhov
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


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

~ TV Recruiting Ad (U.S. Navy)


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


"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


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


"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


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


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

~ Epictetus (55-135)


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


"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


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


"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)


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


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

~ John Gardner


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


"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


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


"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle."

~ Father James Keller (1900-1977)


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


"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!"


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


"You will be what you will to be."

~ James Allen


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


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


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


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

~ Unattributed


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


"The moment of change is the only poem."

~ Adrienne Rich


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."



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

~ Author Unknown


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!"



"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


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!



"Set your purse to fattening."

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


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!



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

~ Anonymous


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


"The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't."
~ Unknown
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


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

~ Elbert Hubbard


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


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


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


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

~ Thomas Fuller


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


"The man who dies rich, dies disgraced."

~ Andrew Carnegie


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


"Time is clay. Make something."

~ Unknown


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


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

~ Bertrand Russell (1872-1949)


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


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

~ Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)


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


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

~ John Gardner


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


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

~ Pearl S. Buck


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


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

~ Brian Tracy


“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


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

~ G. Weatherly


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


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

~ Henry David Thoreau 


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


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

~ Epictetus


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


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

~ James Thurber (1984-1961)


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


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


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


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


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.


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 10/31/2016


"The world makes way for a man who knows where he is going."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


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 10/24/2016


"You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."  ~ Unattributed


It was refreshing to read the article entitled "Thirty Under Thirty" in the REALTOR(r) magazine. Thirty agents under the age of thirty talked about their approach to real estate, and most seemed to "think outside the box." They didn't appear to be bound by conventional rules of marketing conduct. 

Think back to when you were a young child. You were totally uninhibited by rules, so you weren't afraid to try new things. Back then, there wasn't even a "box" to confine your thinking or actions. You did whatever worked for you.

Then, you began to grow up and your parents, then your teachers, began building a box for you. "Stay in line, be quiet, don't touch this or that," they admonished. "Good little girls and boys don't talk back, eat snacks between meals, or chew with their mouths open."

The rules got more sophisticated as you got older, and you began to conform. Now you're all grown up, comfortable in the box the world built for you, and it's not so easy anymore to "think outside the box".

Not so for the newcomers - the youth of the real estate industry. They are enthusiastic, energetic, and with their "no rules" thinking, they're going to mop up on those competitors who are too comfortable in their box.

If you've been in the business for more than ten years, you have one powerful advantage over the newbies - real estate wisdom. You're a survivor and know your way around the business. Now it's just a question of combining that base of knowledge with some of the unfettered new thinking of the under 30 crowd. Old dogs CAN learn new tricks, after all!

Posted 10/17/2016


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


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


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


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


"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 


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


"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


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


"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


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


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


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


"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


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


"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 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


"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


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


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


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


"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


"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


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


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


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


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!

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Orlando Avenue Top Team
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