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What happened to the days when your word meant everything?  Where if you said you agreed to something you held to it and so did the other party.  You didn’t need to get any expensive lawyers to use some fancy, sophisticated vocabulary to spell it out for you.  You did what you said because of your integrity and what it said about you.

Because we started using words so flippantly they became worthless and useless.  Instead of taking people at their words we needed signed contracts and agreements on things.  Even small things now need contracts or something along that line.  The crazy thing now is that it is getting worse.  Someone told me the other night that “contracts don’t mean anything anymore.  People will look to claim bankruptcy just to get out of a contract.” People will take the document to court and just because of one or two misplaced words will get it thrown out. 

What’s next?  Is there anything that will hold people to agreements?

I hope you will start to think carefully about promises and decisions you make.  Start right now and do it old school style.  Start small and make some small promises.  Write them down so you remember.  Then go ahead and follow through on them.  You will be amazed how surprised people around you are when you are a man of your word.

Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.

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The other day I was driving around town just after lunch.  As I was looking around at how beautiful everything was looking I drove by a lemonade stand with 5 kids selling lemonade.  I drove by and almost kept driving then realized what it would mean to stop and get some lemonade from these kids. 

So I did a u-turn and reached in my pocket for all of my spare change.  I gave them the change and asked how many lemonades I could get for that(I have to try to teach in every moment I can).  Right away one of the kids got a blank look on her face and gave it to the older one.  I could get 2 lemonades and with the little extra I told them that it was their tip.

In every experience I have had lately I try to take a few things away.  What did I take away from this chance encounter with some kids at a lemonade stand?

  • Buy lemonade from kids whenever you can.  You can’t buy anything for a quarter these days anyway.  You might as well give the kids fifty cents and make their day.  Don’t just buy the lemonade engage the kids and ask them questions.
  • What if every business had as much excitement as these kids did?  Just think how many things people would sell if their salespeople had this much excitement over each sale. 
  • When did we as adults stop smiling so much?  These kids were smiling from ear to ear over a quarter.  It is hard for any adults to smile at all throughout the day.

Take the next week and sit down and write notes after every experience you have and analyze it.  What is good bad or otherwise? 

The only way we get better is to realize the mistakes we made and change the future so we don’t make them again.

Why is it so hard for us to accept that we made a mistake?  Why is it so hard to apologize?  Is it our pride that mainly gets in the way?  Why do we so badly want others to be wrong and us to be write?

The other day at work I was looking for a paper I gave to someone else.  That person had thrown it away and said there reasoning was that I never told them to keep it.  At first I was kind of upset because I thought it was their responsibility and I got a little bucky when they blamed me.  Upon stepping back counting to 10 and walking around I asked myself “Why I wouldn’t take the blame?”  I realized it was kind of a pride issue.  In that situation I realized that I should just say it was my fault.  Who really cares whose fault it is as long as it gets resolved.  The funny thing was a day after this happened there was another instance where the blame game was starting to go around.  Someone was supposed to check with a customer and never did.  One of the people asked if I had relayed the message.  At first I thought I don’t remember this at all.  Then I said it probably was me I must have forgot.  Right there and then the blame game stopped and we all moved on. 

Stop being stubborn and just take a blame for the team.  It will help everyone else get on with their day and out of the vicious cycle of blaming.

How many people do you know that take pictures or videos of everything?  Are you one of those people?

I have seen this a lot and vow to not be one of those people.  I am not saying not to take pictures or video, but rather keep it to a minimum.  Many people spend their time trying to capture things as they happen so they can look back and remember the past.  What does that make you focus on in your life if you have all of these memories captured?  It makes you focus more on the past.

My goal is to focus on the present and the future but still learn from the past.

If you don’t worry about capturing things on photo or video and just live in the moment your life will be much more rewarding.  Instead of worrying about getting the video camera or digital camera out you are present.  How many times do you actually end up watching those movies anyway?  Instead of trying to preserve memories start making memories by being present and looking to the future.  Think about the time spent sorting through pictures making scrapbooks or editing video.  If instead you would use that time to spend with your family how much more rewarding wouldn’t that be?

When your focus is ahead you can see the endless possibilities.  When your focus is behind all your thinking about what was and might have been.

The last couple of weeks have been filled with a few deaths.  From Steve McNair, to Michael Jackson, to Ed Thomas.  How all of these men’s lives varied differently and I believe speaks volumes about their character. 

What you do when no one is looking is a reflection of what your true character is.

Steve McNair had done a lot of great things and had even just run a football camp for less privileged kids.  He appeared to be a role model for every young kid in the area.  He was always smiling and played through much pain and injuries.  He was said by many to be a great leader on the field. But true leaders are leaders in every area of there life.  I am not downplaying anything Steve McNair did or what he stood for.  It is sad that what he will be remembered for the most is the affair he was having.  And ultimately being murdered in a murder suicide by his girlfriend. 

Michael Jackson led the way for many African-Americans especially in singing.  He was very successful and overcame great odds.  He was one of the most talented singers and entertainers ever.  It looks as though Michael overdosed on a prescription drug and was addicted to them.

Ed Thomas was regarded as one of the best high school football coaches in Iowa and even the Nation.  He not only was great at coaching football but great at coaching life.  What echoed in the interviews with former players and people close to Ed was how much they learned about life from him.  He not only lead his teams but he lead his family.  In the interviews with his family they didn’t weep uncontrollably what you heard from them is “God has a plan.” I even heard a story of his wife calling the family of the man who shot Ed and telling them she didn’t blame them.  Who does thinks of others when they themselves are grieving?  Someone close to Ed Thomas would know what it is like to be others focused.  He had been doing it all of his life.

What do we learn about people through their deaths:

Remember: Character is what you are is when no one is looking.  Or when you think no one is looking. 

All 3 of these men died unexpectedly.  If these men thought people were watching would they have been in these situations?

Steve McNair: Would he have been having an affair with this young girl if he thought people were looking and his wife would find out?  By his decision to do this he lost a lot of credibility in the eyes of many people.

Michael Jackson: He couldn’t handle things by himself so he used drugs to help him out.  Would he have taken them knowing he would or could die from them?  Leaving his kids without a parent.

Ed Thomas: He died in the weight room helping young men get better.  He died in a small weight room in a small town in Iowa.  Not a huge house or Condo.  Ed Thomas lived for others.  Ed Thomas knew this life wasn’t about him. 

What we can learn about others is how people around them respond to their deaths:

Steve McNair:  Wife is distraught and kids are probably in shock not only that there dad died but was being unfaithful.  Many questions unanswered.

Michael Jackson: Huge mystery surrounding everything for kids and everyone around.  Everyone was overly sad.  Many questions.

Ed Thomas: Family was calm and collected.  Everyone was sad but knew Ed lived with no regrets because he lived life to the fullest.  His kids spoke about God’s plan and wife reached out to the accused family.  Not many questions

Who do you think was a better leader and better prepared those around them?  Who set an example in everything he did?

I know Michael Jackson, and Steve McNair were rich and famous but Ed Thomas invested in his family and kids who are going to be great examples in society.

Remember that at any moment you could die.  What would people say if you died doing what you were doing right now?