These simple words written inside an old beat-up copy of “Tom Sawyer” that were presented to George Bailey speak volumes to us. If you’re at all familiar with the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, you remember Clarence the Guardian Angel giving this present to Stewart’s character at the end of the movie. George Bailey had just been shown what life would have been like for his family and friends had he not been born. He came to find out that even though times were tough, he had led a life that impacted countless others.
I love this movie because it truly shows the value of each person. We all create a ripple effect in the world; impacting people around us in so many ways. Regardless of our vocation, the size of our family, or where we live, we are blessed to be able to touch someone else, even without knowing it. You might be a youth coach, a business associate, or even a supportive voice in difficult times. You play an important role to your family and friends and they in return play a great role to you.
Last Saturday, my wife Barb and I went out grocery shopping for the Christmas basket that out local St. Vincent DePaul Society puts together for needy families. It’s one of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season. We certainly don’t know the family of four we just provided Christmas dinner for, or why they are in the situation they are in. It doesn’t matter. What we come away with is the knowledge that in a very small way, we were able to give of ourselves that someone might be better off. It reminded me a little of another Christmas favorite, “A Christmas Carol”, when Ebeneezer Scrooge sends the prize turkey to the Cratchit family anonymously. “Mankind is our Business’, right?
Take a look at your life. See all the people who have made a difference you as well as those you have impacted. We don’t have the same chance as George Bailey to see what life would have been without us. However, we should always remember how fortunate we are, whether in good or bad times, that we have friends and family that love and care about us. Every day we have chances to be a positive source for someone. Let’s take every opportunity we have to accept those challenges.
After all, it is a wonderful life.
Do you remember the last time you took a test? For me, it was six weeks ago for a class in the Certified Risk Manager (CRM) designation program. If you’re like me, studying isn’t the first thing you love to do. For this class, it was torture.
It was all about the subject I liked least in school – math. OK, I’ll be honest…I hated math. This class was 2 1/2 days of probability, statistics, and analysis. Even though I actually found the concepts interesting, taking a test on them was another thing. I don’t recall studying this hard for a test since college.
Yesterday, I received news that I passed! Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I did not want to take that class over.
As I look back on my testing strategy, one thing was very helpful. I knew how many points I needed to pass; this was a Pass/Fail only. I also knew where my strengths in the subject were from my intense studying. When the test came, I carefully read each problem and answered them to the best of my ability at that moment. If I needed to come back later, I did. There were some questions that I really had problems with…and knew I would. I left those until the end, and in one case, couldn’t even answer the question. I decided to leave that one and concentrate on making the most points out of the ones I knew.
Is this a metaphor for business? How many of you have ever tried to stretch yourself into areas that you weren’t very good at, while not perfecting the areas you were strong at? I know I’ve been guilty of this. In an effort to be all things to all people, I unwisely tried to be and do too much. Like a points based Pass/Fail test, you need to find where your strengths lie and make the most out of those. Leave your weaknesses behind and let those who are experts in that field tackle them. You may find that you are more successful AND have more time.
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Last week, former Senator George Mitchell produced his expose of the steroid and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) scandal that has rocked Major League Baseball. It named names; big ones. Over the weekend, news came out that one of those players, Andy Pettite admitted to taking HGH. Pettite has been a star pitcher for the New York Yankees and Houston Astros for many years. His name being linked to the scandal was a shock. The fact that he’s “coming clean” is very refreshing.
Mitchell’s report included Pettite for just a few pages and never linked him to steroids. Pettite acknowledges that he only used HGH back in 2000 for two days while recovering from injury. He was injected by the man who also “outed” potential Hall of Famer Roger Clemens. Clemens has been implicated in a much larger role for both steroids and HGH, which has put his once lock solid election into the Hall now in jeopardy.
What’s most refreshing about Pettite is that he didn’t waste any time confirming his use of HGH. At the time, it was not a banned substance, so in his mind he wasn’t breaking any rules. His sole purpose was to re-gain his health more quickly, and he had heard HGH could do this. The fact that he came out so quickly and corroborated the story, pledged his allegiance to the integrity of baseball, and issued no bitterness towards the report makes me believe him. That and the fact that Pettite has always been viewed as an upstanding guy only add credence to his statements.
This is in stark contrast to Clemens, who issued a tersely worded statement through his attorney that he never used steroids. The preponderance of evidence, plus the fact that Pettite’s story links the same trainer, makes one lean towards not believing Clemens. “The Rocket” is at an age that seems inconceivable that he his body has held out as it has. He has struggled with injuries over the past years and it makes one wonder what steps he would take to perhaps be considered the greatest pitcher to ever live. Now, regardless of whether you believe him or not, or whether there is any firm evidence, his name has been tarnished and sits alongside Barry Bonds with a mental asterisk next to it.
I don’t know Roger Clemens to judge his character. My gut feeling is he’s guilty. My gut also tells me Andy Pettite is a stand-up guy who wasted little time facing the music. The fact his name surfaced will quickly subside.
Think about the power of honesty in your world – personal and business. Have you ever dealt with people who have been, let’s say, less than forthright? How has that impacted you? The bottom line is that in the relationship driven world we will always live in, honesty is more than just the best policy. It’s the most important one.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to perform on stage at a small festival in Tacoma called, The Dickens Festival, named after the famous author Charles Dickens. Leading up to the event, I actually dreaded going. It was an hour trip each way to give a 5 minute Tall Tale in front of a small audience for free. I was feeling sorry that I accepted.
When I got to this small bookstore in Tacoma, I noticed how energized the area was. I watched a talented magician and wonderful dancers perform before me. Then, my friends Bob Ingram and Wes and Amy Peper showed up, as they were also on the ticket. By the time it came for me to go up, I was jazzed. Bottom line – I’m looking forward to next year!
The moral of the story – My friend and mentor Darren LaCroix always talks about “Stage Time”. From a professional standpoint, it was a great chance to get on stage and practice. My audience laughed and seemed to enjoy themselves, so hopefully I added value to their day. If you are a speaker of any kind, whether its Toastmasters or speaking to service clubs, take advantage of all the “Stage Time” you can get. Not only will it make you a better presenter, but you may have fun at the same time!
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What strikes me as special about this team over the past few years is the level of teamwork and unselfishness that they exude. Stories abound about players having to accept lesser or different roles to meet the needs of the team during the course of the season. Shaun Alexander, Bobby Engram and Patrick Kerney were three players named by coaches and teammates. A few years before that, the team had trouble climbing out of mediocrity even though they were loaded with “talent”. What they found was that they had to clean house of some of that “talent” that didn’t have the team attitude and rather the “What’s in it for me”.
Surrounding your “team” with positive and successful people is vital for your success, too. Regardless of whether your “team” is your family, workplace, or a team you coach, attitude is more important than “talent”. Take a look at your relationships. Can you honestly say that the people who surround and advise you are team players? Now, in a family, you may have to work harder at building better dynamics than in a workplace environment. At work, people can be let go, like what the Seahawks did. The bottom line is that for your “team” to function at full strength, the “we” has to be more important than the “me”. When you surround yourself with positive and encouraging people, you will find successes in all aspects of your life.
For the second year in a row, I’ve been down in Palm Springs when my home state of Washington has been devastated by flooding. I’ve watched in horror and sadness as many people have had tragedies from the rains and floods. My home is safe and for that I’m thankful. The pictures on the news look straight out of Katrina a few years ago. Let’s keep all those adversely affected in our prayers and hope for a quick return to normalcy.
How volatile is your business? Do you go through stretches where things seem topsy-turvy in your world? That may not be as entertaining to you as a college football season. The reality is that change and volatility are part of any business or industry. How you respond to it will decide your success or failure.
The one constant you always have is how well you present yourself. There’s an old saying that a great salesperson will never be without a job. That’s because regardless of the times, if you are a dynamic and persuasive presenter, you will be highly sought after.
Take preventative measures to offset the change in times for your business. Don’t overlook the most important business skill that can put you head and shoulders over your competition, regardless of volatility. Communicating and presenting will make sure you stay #1!
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Simple words spoken by Dr. Monica as the shot laced with an overdose of anesthesia gently ended the life of our family dog Blondie at 5:15 pm on November 19. We had scheduled this time because we brought Blondie home as a 6-week old puppy on Monday, June 1, 1991 at 5:00 pm. Sort of a fitting end. The 6,016 days in between were full of love, loyalty, and friendship.
I’ve been compiling for some time lessons I’ve learned from Blondie. Maybe I’ll write a book on them because they are lessons we humans can use at any stage of our lives.
The final lesson she taught me through this process is this – we are blessed with gifts and in some cases there is a time to give them back. The reality of letting go and helping a loved one through the dying process is a fact of life. No matter how well you prepare, until you go through it there is a huge unknown. Now, even though every death in our family will be painful and different, Blondie has taught me that it can be done with dignity, courage and love.
Yes, I know she was a dog, not a human. She was also a binding member of our family for 16 years; a common bond of love for not only our immediate family, but our extended one as well. Parents, siblings, and friends have all shared their sorrow with us. In fact, one of my daughters close friends left a bouquet of flowers on our doorstep last night. That’s one of the many gifts pets bring. They can be the “glue” that brings people more closely together Giving back the gifts are painful, yet always with a lesson to be learned. I want to thank all of my friends and family who have wished us their condolences. Each one is special and appreciated.
Finally, I want to especially thank the wonderful people at Poulsbo Animal Clinic, especially Dr. Monica and her assistant. The opportunity to say farewell to your pet in the privacy of your own home is something I can’t say enough about. Blondie hated going to the vet and this way it was just like having visitors to the house. No other people, no sterile environment; just peacefully passing away at home with your family by your side. Isn’t that the way we would all want to go?