“Well the good old days weren’t always so good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems…”
The lyrics from the classic Billy Joel song, Keeping the Faith should ring more true today than ever. Social media platforms – specifically Facebook – are filled with people decrying the state of our politics and government. Intelligent, bright people are hurling their own invective aimed at one side or another. The vanity fair platform is littered with op-eds bemoaning that things have never been this bad; that the country has never been so polarized; and incivility is at an all-time low (or high depending on your definition).
Really? Even I’m old enough to remember Watergate, skyrocketing inflation, and nefarious pictures of a philandering Gary Hart that ultimately doomed his presidential bid. None of us will personally remember the vitriolic 1860 presidential election featuring Stephen Douglas and some oaf named Abraham Lincoln. The debates, dialogue, and political cartoons mocking both men might actually make Donald Trump wince. In fact, it was so acrimonious, that states vowed that they would secede from the union – take their ball and go home – if Lincoln prevailed. He did, and they did.
This country is 240 years old this year. We’ve endured slavery, women’s suffrage, prohibition, mafia battles, and assassinations of our leaders. We’ve had good, bad, and mediocre presidents; leaders that disagreed violently (Washington and Adams virtually hated each other); and global problems that chanced annihilation of countries. Yet, here we are.
The truth is that our country is resilient. We are resilient because regardless of what political party owns the White House or Congress, what individual is Commander in Chief, or who sits on the Supreme Court, we are a people that find a way. The same goes for the good people in Paris and Brussels that are resilient in the wake of unthinkable violence. We as average people are fighters…which makes us more than “ordinary.”
To unleash your potential in life, you can’t allow the world around you to dictate your mindset or create fear. Instead of feeling a sense of dread or blaming others that seemingly are in control, take control yourself. Be opportunistic. Be bold. Be resilient. The alternative stinks. We aren’t much different than the humans who came before us, or who will follow us. The good old days brought with them a lot of violence, discrimination, and enmity. We can control tomorrow and make it better than what it seems…
Quote of the Week:
“All men are equal before fish.”
~ Herbert Hoover
If you’d like to hear more about this concept, listen to my live Periscope broadcast today at 10 am PST. Information below…
While attending a conference over the weekend, I was part of a conversation between a small number of people regarding the perspicacity of today’s “younger generation.” The culprit, according to a few, was the decay in our public education system, and the lack of desire of the average person. They used some of the “man on the street” skits on television where people are asked questions that we all “think” should be common knowledge, generally around history and politics.
Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking. We are all influenced by those things around us – where we were born, where we grew up, education level of parents, availability of parents, friends, and a thousand other things. Making generalities around being “informed” and pointing it at just a couple of factors is short-sighted and ignores the diversity of our world. To add to it, the thinking that the time we grew up in is infinitely better than today and that the world is going down the drain is also astigmatic. Billy Joel in “Keeping the Faith” sang that, “the good old days weren’t always that good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems…” If memory serves, the good old days were filled with segregation, bullying, discrimination, and wars (5 “declared” just in this country).
Here’s what you need to do to seek out both significance and success. Avoid living in the past and be ever present. Learn from experience and apply the best of what you do to your life – both professionally and personally. Don’t allow yourself to get caught in a myopic mindset that demands that your generation, your family, and your country are impeccable and everyone else should do it your way. Instead, acknowledge that we live in a world that is constantly in flux and changing, and that you have the ability to help that change be a positive one for you and many others.
Last Friday night, I had the honor of serving as the Master of Ceremonies for a fundraising event called “Poulsbo’s Got Talent.” This off course is a knock off version of the popular television show “America’s Got Talent.” The competition featured 17 acts that all involved either singing or dancing. There were individuals, bands, old, and young…all coming to have some fun and show their “stuff.”
What impressed me so much was what I witnessed in all the acts, regardless of age or talent. What made each one of them so good was how easy they made everything look. For instance, there was a duo of high school aged boys who did a sort of dueling percussion routine. One would give his bit, and the other would (without a word being spoken) basically say “Oh yeah?” and do his deal. They were both brilliant and really had the crowd engaged and captivated. They did all of this was a grace and an ease about them. So much so that you’d think, “That doesn’t look that hard.” Based on my horrible drumming abilities as displayed at Seattle’s Experience Music Project, I know that is NOT the case.
What makes you valuable to others is that you are able to make the hard look easy; the complex look simple; and the chaos look calm. That’s why people use your services. They can’t do what you do, and you are able to make it happen quickly, efficiently, and without stress.
In order to be at the top of your game, you need to make sure people know how you can help them; show them the value you create; and basically turn the problem into a solution quickly. Now, you may not have a crowd screaming they love you while cheering for an encore, BUT you just might have a lot of money going into your bank account and business that needs no encore!
As you are receiving this week’s Extra Points and reading it, I am somewhere in New York City. My guess is Barb and I are having breakfast somewhere in Times Square. We are in The City both for business and pleasure. On Tuesday, we spend the day with my professional mentor, Alan Weiss. I am undergoing an “immersion” day with him that will likely leave my head spinning and overwhelmed with ideas and projects. That’s one of the reasons I brought Barb – to help me stand back up! I am excited because these days with Alan are always extremely valuable to my growth professionally and personally.
I am also here to have a small vacation with Barb. We were supposed to be in New York last year to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Life happened – my dad got sick and passed away; my mother moved in with us; and business and other adventures made it impossible to re-schedule. So it is. But, opportunity often does knock more than once, and when the option to meet Alan in New York “knocked,” we answered!
Two morals to this story – First, opportunity knocks more than once. In fact, opportunity knocks every day numerous times and probably wonders why nobody is home. Are you prepared to answer it? Second – Find ways to mix work and pleasure whenever you can. As Alan says, “You don’t have a personal life and a professional life. You have a life. Get on with it.” There’s no rule that says you have to split these up. Find great places and open the door to opportunity when it knocks and take advantage of your time.
Opportunity may knock often, but you can’t make up for that lost day. Make every day a great “at bat!”
This week’s quote – “The good old days weren’t always so good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.” American philosopher Billy Joel (he can also play the piano pretty well)