“Why?” The question repeats.
“Love” is the resolution.
Cara announced at the office, “Amy’s running an 8 minute mile in Boston. Scott said it was a perfect day. She smiled as she ran past.”
A few hours later, just before the plane doors shut, a young executive leaned over and showed a horrific video from the Boston Marathon finish line.
I texted Amy. They were safe. Facebook and Twitter lit up concerning the bombing. The newsrooms writhed and struggled with this act of hatred. All sought clarity.
Tragedy begets the question - “Why?”
FEAR soon fills the void.
If “why” is not solved, fear embeds its vicious tentacles into recesses of the brain. Like an unrelenting attack, cancer breeds more cancer. Its mission is to kill the host. Keep asking “Why?” without answers - and the cancer grows.
Socrates believed, “There is no solution: seek it lovingly.”
Turn fear away. Love becomes contagious!
1. Foster LOVE in your Biz
Dave Stone, founder of First Rate, Inc. has four values for his company, and ends all his emails with, “Love, Serve, Give & Enjoy.” His staff enjoys selecting charities, which get donations of 10% gross corporate revenue. Mike Schoder, owner and President of the Granada Theater, has love inherent in his culture. “Kindness and honesty equal our mission statement of fun.” FedEx has an internal motto, in order of priority. “People, Process, Profit.” Putting people first is an act of love.
2. Attach LOVE to Your Question
Consistently ask yourself a question with the word “love” in it. Example: How will I serve with love? Following a personal mission statement can be restricting. But living IN your personal question, especially in the name of love, will clear your way. When you consistently ask yourself, “How will I serve with love?” there may be no right answer but there is a right direction. And isn’t ‘the right direction’ where we all want to go?
3. Pivot to LOVE
Being right has become more important than being loving. Since there is no solution, and love is the answer then pivot from trying to right to being loving. If you are in a position of influence (Hint: If you’re breathing, you’re in a significant position of influence) then lead by example.
In 1993 I went through heart numbing closure on a failing marriage. To redirect attention onto something more positive I decided to run the Calgary Marathon with friends. Bryce Medd and I trained six days a week for six months. The plan was to get to the start line AND the finish line healthy. Four hours and forty-five minutes later, fighting through exhaustion, the finish banner finally appeared. Tears flowed as I fell into waiting friends’ embrace.
The devastation in Boston reignited those tears.
This time, for all time, love is the resolution.
He’s 70 and loves to work and was turned down for a job he really wanted. He didn’t lie down. He eventually got the position. How creative and smart will you be - to advance your career?
Harrison Ford was told he wasn’t right for the supporting role in 42, a movie about the life of Jackie Robinson. Ford is arguably one of the most successful actors in film history. He has generated over $6 billion in ticket sales, yet when he was interested in the role of former Brooklyn Dodgers general manager - Branch Rickey, director Brian Helgeland wouldn’t return his call.
“Nothing against [Harrison Ford]” Helgeland said about the casting process. He was opposed to Ford’s stardom. “I didn’t want [the movie] to be Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford.” Yet, Harrison Ford really wanted the part of the complex, honorable and practical character who helped advance civil rights.
Ford kept calling and insisted on a meeting. The director relented. In the face-to-face conversation with Helgeland, Ford asked about specific scenes. At one point, Ford wanted to better understand a section of the screenplay. He said it could be played either one of two ways. Impromptu, he acted the scene one way. Then played the scene another way. It was clear Ford was intimate with the screenplay. What the director didn’t know was Harrison Ford researched Branch Rickey. He studied audio and film archives of the legendary Dodgers GM. He embodied Rickey’s mannerisms, voice and cadence.
Ford jokes he “…wore [Helgeland] down.” Not true. He approached his job search with the following system.
- Never Shy Away from What You Want. What do you want? What are you doing about it? Harrison Ford is 70 and loaded. He’s neither retired nor complacent. There are no excuses. Want that job advancement, new client, new business idea? Go for it!
- When They Don’t Call Back. Keep Calling. They didn’t reply to your email? They didn’t return your voice mail? If you haven’t called at least seven times you’re officially a wimp. Keep smiling and dialing. Get creative. Send them a 70-second video message where they see your eyes and your passion.
- When They Answer Insist on a Meeting. Repeat after me. “We have to meet. Would two o’clock on Tuesday work or would 10 am on Wednesday be better?” Close until you get a meeting.
- Do Amazing Homework. Don’t you dare go to the meeting on your charm and good looks alone. It doesn’t matter if you have generated $6 billion in ticket sales. The ONLY thing the interviewee cares about is his own derriere. One trip to Google is NOT research. Go in with an intimate knowledge of the solutions that the interviewee needs to know about. Know more than the interviewee knows.
- Impress with Extraordinary Value. In the meeting, forget about the benefits of hiring you. Deliver on the extraordinary value you can provide.
If you’ve done your job right, the interviewee would be crazy not to engage you.
Andrew the Cabbie has a spectacular response to, “How are you?” “This morning I woke up with new grace, new forgiveness and a smile on my face. It doesn’t get better than that.” Now that’s an answer!
You’ve got to admit, the stock answer to the “How are you?” question is getting old.
“Good” or “Great” – Really? The grammar police will say, “What are you great at?.”
They’ll correct you with, “Well.”
Or the less “good/great/well” version - - “Fine.” “FINE,” being the acronym for:
- Fed Up
- Neurotic and
Climbing out of the mediocrity of a stock response is not just about a change in routine. There are substantial benefits to having a more interesting reply.
1. Memorable Impression – Make your first impression or the next one memorable. Whether you’re in sales, reconnecting with a pal or simply making an acquaintance, deep down you want to have impact and influence. Even if it’s fleeting, the effect and affect you have resonates with the meaning of life. Andrew wanted you to know how grateful he was to be alive. There are unlimited impressionable answers to “How are you?”
- I’m better than I deserve.
- If I were any better, vitamins would be taking ME.
- Why? What did you hear?
- Much better – according to my psychiatrist.
- I’m doing so well I have to sit on my hands to keep from waving at everyone.
- Totally charged. Don’t get too close though, sometimes sparks shoot out my nipples.
2. Reinforced Mindset – Reinforce a mindset that gives you energy and optimism. Good days or bad, yours truly answers with, “Livin’ the dream.” Your brain needs realignment now and then. “Livin’ the dream,” says you’re grateful and blessed. Give yourself every advantage you can. Reinforce your mindset with a positive, delightful response.
3. Connection Opportunity – Nurturing a connection is a privileged opportunity. Andrew’s answer about how he woke up with a new outlook quickly turned into a conversation. He might have been a random motivational taxi driver in Richmond, Virginia. Not after asking how he was. This service industry All-Star elevates his business one ride at a time.
Let’s face it, when most people ask, “How are you?” – Do they really care? Do they?
But, an impressionable, mindset reinforcing, opportunity to connect response pushes the needle on the caring meter to “I’m glad we met.”
Sitting in the theater, stories unfold on the screen. One dancer after the next aspires to be in the Youth America Grand Prix. Eleven year-old Isabella went to a screening of the Dallas Film Festival’s award winning documentary, First Position. She was somewhat new to the Dallas Ballet Center, she hadn’t been trained on pointe yet and the YAGP was not remotely on Isabella’s radar. Ten months later, she was selected to compete in the YAGP regionals. The gap between fate and expectations was filled – as it should.
This gap is a potpourri of an emotional imprint, personal connection and instinctive resonance. The gap is that part of your being which hungers for alignment and satisfied curiosity. Everyone has a hungry desire and belonging gap.
When Max was twelve, he too saw a documentary aligned with his passion. Profiled in It Might Get Loud were three generations of rock guitar virtuosos. Older, middle age and young. Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, U2’s the Edge and Jack White. Jack White, sporting a fedora and a revolutionary's soul became Max’s idol. Three years later, Max was back stage with Jack for a truly memorable conversation. The fate expectations’ gap was satisfied.
Take a moment and think back in your life about the times you found the nexus between your internal expectations and what now seems like fate.
What job are you doing right now which had its origin in curiosity? Where are you living? Who are you with? Who are your friends? What hobbies occupy your passion? Who crossed your path in significant ways? In every case, some form of gap-filling occurred. You found what many call fate, coupled with an embedded expectation.
In your future, you can be the architect of fate expectations. Explore, be curious, and ignore any tendencies to overthink pretty much everything. This is why kids are so good at it and adults likely pushed it aside.
You have a responsibility to facilitate the space between fate and expectations in your life and the lives you influence.
Bridge "fate expectations." Explore, be curious and stop overthinking pretty much everything.
Are you in the spotlight, or the spouse who inherited a less conspicuous role? The latter involves an elegant dance of being beside and behind someone, occasionally, at the very same time. Let’s call that grace in circumstance.
Meet Dottie Duke, the wife of Charles Duke, the 10th person to walk on the moon's surface.
The event was a private dinner we attended recently in Dallas. Last year, a chance to meet General Duke never transpired. On the way to this year’s dinner, I mentioned to Michelle a couple of times, “I hope we can meet the astronaut who was there last year.”
As luck, or the power of intention, would have it, Charlie and his wife Dottie sat down right beside us. We spent the evening conversing with a truly fascinating couple.
Towards the end of the evening, we decided to take a picture of the four of us. After a smile and a click, Dottie pulled on my arm and said, “A picture with you and Charlie is a good idea.”
How cool is that? After a half century of supporting her husband -- the guy in Houston's 1969 Mission Control talking to Neil Armstrong as he stepped on the moon, to 1972 when Charlie left his footprints on moon-dust while she cared for their two boys, to standing by him during his ascension to US Air Force brigadier general – she glided aside and gave a stranger a chance for a picture with a hero from the golden age of space travel.
Dottie and Charlie are about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
It’s clear the success of their marriage is due in part to Dottie’s ability to dance with grace in circumstance.
What a nice reminder about the gift your grace can have in any dance of circumstance.
It's lame to encourage someone with, “Follow your dreams.” Either that someone is aware of this tired cliché or they have no idea of what the dream is. Moreover, your motivational advice will likely fall on deaf ears.
Why is that?
Dreams aren’t nearly an effective motivator as regrets are.
Dreams are best guesses. Regrets are clear, poignant and powerful.
Lance Armstrong has all sorts of opinions being flung at him right now. Some believe his only motivation for coming clean is for better sponsorship at professional triathlon competitions. In other circles, he has pundits questioning his decision from a legal standpoint. They’re posting he will invite more legal implications than if he had kept his mouth shut. Yet, people close to Armstrong state he has repeatedly expressed his regret for denials and attacks on his accusers. With his estimated net worth in excess of $100 million, it’s questionable more money or less litigation are his primary concerns.
The sting of regret is a powerful motivator.
Think to a time when you made a very poor decision or hurt someone else. Think of the regret you felt. That feeling may never be erased. Yet, what forward thinking decision did you make? Chances are, you made a course correction and did what you could to never make that mistake again.
Lying to an Australian customs official about being on the Canadian national wrestling team at Brisbane’s Commonwealth Games is a 30 year-old regret. He saw the special visa, asked if I’d competed and I responded, “Yes.” But this fib about being an athlete sat like a lump of garage station sushi in the pit of my stomach. It drove me to never take credit for a story that I didn’t earn… ever again.
Skipping the chance to compete internationally in Luge is another regret from my past. Watching luge buddies marching in the opening ceremonies threw piano sized remorse on my back. The weight of not committing the way these friends did inspired a four-year journey to compete in Olympic Speed Skiing.
I regret not listening to my first fiancé when she wanted to postpone the wedding because she was “Still in love with (her) old boyfriend.” Yet, after that first failed marriage, the lessons about what to do next time down the aisle involved ‘no regrets.’
So, if you’re tired of hearing ‘Follow your dreams’ or have no clue what ‘your dreams’ might be, give yourself a break.
Instead, look ten, thirty, sixty years down the road. What regrets do you never, ever want to feel?
You’ll find a lot more clarity in what to avoid rather than what you think you want.
If you know exactly what you want - lucky you. But don’t just follow your dreams.
Scanning down the list of nineteen I couldn’t see my name. I looked again more carefully. I was not listed. There had to be a mistake.
I found the head coach in the hallway of the hockey rink. Choked up and shaking in my sub five-foot frame I said, “My name’s Vince Poscente. I looked at the list and wasn’t on it. Do you think I was left off the list?”
The coach, Ken Hitchcock, looked down and said flatly, “There are no mistakes.”
I couldn’t believe it. Earlier that day he had faced the forty young teens and said, “If you work hard and show the desire, you will make this team.” From the age of five my entire hockey career was short on talent but long on hustle. I knew that I had more fire than any of the pubescent players in the arena that day.
I played out that season in a B league but quit immediately after. My disillusionment with the politics and my own mediocrity made skiing far more appealing. In skiing I could just play and do it on my own terms.
Had this not happened I would not have been in the position to take up ski racing eleven years later. Had I not ski raced I would not have competed in the Olympics in Albertville. If this didn’t happen I would not have had the privilege to impact hundreds of thousands of people as a motivational keynote speaker, write four books, reach the New York Times bestselling list, establish some amazing friendships and, a few years back, be inducted into the Canadian Speaking Hall of Fame.
Garth Brooks has a song called Unanswered Prayers. In the lyrics he describes how he and his wife chance upon an old girlfriend of his. “As she walked away I looked at my wife and then and there I thanked the good Lord for the gifts in my life. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
Meanwhile, Ken Hitchcock went on to be one of the NHL’s most successful coaches leading the Dallas Stars to a Stanley Cup in 1999. Two years after that I was backstage with Ken at a function. I introduced myself and said I grew up in Sherwood Park and still play hockey in a men's league.
His eyes lit up and we realized that we didn’t live far from each other. We also figured out that he sold me hockey equipment at a store in Edmonton. Finally I dropped the bomb, “Hey, did you know you cut me from a hockey team in 1975?”
He looked back and said, “Are you over it yet?”
“Oh ya. It was the best thing you could have done,” and I left it at that.
In our fast paced world today it is easy to get passed by opportunity or other people. But rest assured, you will only be limited by the forward speed you choose to employ. Leave setbacks behind and put your foot on the accelerator. You never know what unanswered prayers await you.
At times... there are no mistakes!
On the surface, they have what they need to succeed. Thomas Franchise Solutions has a seasoned board of advisors, a sure-footed leader and committed staff, driven for growth. But, their founder and Chairman, Peter Thomas, wants more. A fresh, unconventional perspective. His brainchild, a Youth Advisory Board.
A Youth Advisory Board is not new to organizational development.
State Farm has a youth advisory board. Thirty 17-20 year olds are assigned to address issues important to State Farm and communities across North America. Their service-learning projects help State Farm with a local presence and goodwill.
Brewerytown in Philadelphia has a community Youth Advisory Council comprising of 14-19 year olds. Yours truly even got in the youth activism game thirty-five years ago. I chaired a Teen Board that complimented the adult efforts of the Strathcona Youth Association’s mission to build a local teen center.
The Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary has been using advising youth for years. According to avid supporter, Eric Perrault, "The Children's Hospital in Calgary (the big lego block) was based upon designs from our youth advisory. Not only were they consulted in the design phase, all structural and programs had to go through them for changes and approval. This may explain why the facility is one of the best of its kind."
TFS takes the Youth Advisory Board concept outside the somewhat insular corporate playground.
What’s innovative about Thomas’ Youth Advisory Board is their assignment. To submit a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). The youngest member is in middle school. Others are either in high school or college. The youth selected are armed with an entrepreneurial acumen and intellegence oozing with curiosity.
As it turns out, there are many check marks in the win category for TFS and the youth.
Win #1 A Younger Lens for a Bigger Picture - TFS gets to see through a younger lens. TFS's model of investing in franchise companies with a proven track record and profitable model could be strictly numbers driven. But Thomas wanted to augment his investment process with insights of those who the corporate world normally would rather have share of wallet share… not what the young minds have to share. Meanwhile, the youth know they need to look carefully at what they review and translate it for their elder colleagues.
Win #2 Simple Sophistication - The youth dive into the real corporate conversations. By being added to weekly internal communications and other information flow the youngsters gain insight into how bottom line results are driven by organizational decision-making. TFS forces themselves to keep their messaging easy to digest and uncomplicated. The keep-it-simple mantra is self-imposed while paying dividends.
Win #3 Evoking Insights and Outsights – TFS wants to scan for new franchise opportunities while balancing the demands of growing their partner companies. It is incredibly easy in any organization to get caught in the manage-what-we-have cycle at the expense of innovating towards new frontiers. To ignore dealing with change and managing change companies like Radio Shack and Blockbuster have fallen victim to this phenomenon. With the Youth Advisory Board’s consistent input, everyone at TFS pauses to reflect and seek beyond themselves.
Consider eliciting the noggin’ power of a few sharp, still developing, under 25 brains. Go beyond traditional focus groups or surveys. Create a youth advisory board and evoke a bigger picture with simple sophistication. A fresh, unconventional, youthful, motivational perspective may be exactly what you need.
When is the Gig Up?
- If you’ve lost your expertise or the gig doesn’t light you up, get off the field and coach.
- If the coach speaks, shut the pie hole and listen. What (s)he knows is invaluable.
Bob Dylan (71) gave one of the worst concerts we’ve ever seen - ever! Paying hundreds of dollars to see a legend had the, “I saw him perform” equity. But his performance was embarrassing. Replace the band with an expert interviewer and people would get a whole lot more out of their investment. (Subtitles needed.)Chuck Berry (86) was happy to still be performing, he repeated songs, was completely confused at one point - yet the crowd loved that he was there and even do a version of the duck walk. Did we put a notch in the, “I saw him perform’ punch card? Yes. Was it professional musicianship? No. Put a spotlight on him and hear about all his shenanigans from 50’s and 60’s or advice from his years of experience – how cool would that be?
Paul McCartney’s (70) concert wasn’t bad, but not worth $250 a ticket. It was obvious Sir Paul “mailed it in.” He seemed unenthused and tired. Yet, give him a stool where he can tell Beatles stories – THAT would be entertaining.
Guys, if you’ve lost your expertise or your gig doesn’t light you up, get off the field and coach.
But, there are no guarantees in coaching.
Brian (60+) sold his chain for millions to a large restaurant conglomerate. They invited him on their board but consistently ignored his input. The younger voices in the boardroom thought they knew better.
Leon (70+) sold his restaurant chain in the midst of a dramatic growth curve. The current owners took the chain off its successful path - until they brought Leon back as a consultant. Revenue has improved.
Egon (60+) has enough money to retire. But he wants to share his wisdom. He is offering consulting – for free - to a lucky company who needs his ‘turn-around to quality’ expertise. His passion is helping people.
Guys, if you have it in you, we want to learn from you. We want to hear your voice and apply what we gain from your perspective. If you have that spark, let’s see it. It lights us up as well.
Of course there are many exceptions…
Wanda Jackson (75) has arthritis and charisma all at once. She captivated her fans with stories about Elvis and her songs that ushered in the age of rock and roll. Her voice strained past her big-as-the-South smile. The intimate crowd loved it.
Peter (74) started Thomas Franchise Solutions within the last couple of years. He is on fire. He’s enthusiastic and a driving force. He belongs in the captain’s chair and provides both the wisdom and the spark to make great things happen. He’s more fit than most 50 year olds. His passion is infectious. He’s in the game, loves the gig and belongs there.
To Bob, Chuck and Paul… thanks for the memories but you're not getting any more concert money from those who expect more.
We either ignore, complain or take action when our politicians make a choice. There is one more option: Stay on their horribly-low-approval-rated-butts and make sure they make choices for the people, not the political party or self-interests. This involves a new order of involvement (easier offered than accomplished - but still doable and ultimately necessary in today’s environment of distrusted politicians).
Before the economy turned south in 2008, yours truly hated looking at the numbers. My motivational speaker filtered eyeballs would glaze over at a P&L statement. With a form of numerical dyslexia… words like “budget” actually spelled “snore.” Tax forms made noises like “blah, blah, blah.” Bank statements resembled leaflets for garage doors or lawn care.
That all changed when we had to get serious about finances. The luxury of sitting on the unaccountable porch swing, sipping the sweet ice tea of ignorance was no longer an option.
In the last four years my order of involvement surrounding numbers and finance changed… for the better. It was as if a new sheriff was in town. I got accountable on accounting.
The same, order of involvement surrounding politician accountability and the elimination of citizen ignorance is waiting for us. Do this and your representative will know there’s a new sheriff in town – that sheriff is you.
Here are 3 Do’s to monitor what your political representative(s) are doing for you:
- Track your representative on Google Alerts . You will be able to follow what he or she is being reported on. If they are representing your interests, you’ll know pretty quickly. If they are blocking progress, climb all over that low-approval-rated-butt. In the US – here is the link to find who your representatives are .
- Follow your representative on Social Media. Facebook Pages and Twitter work well. If you see something amiss, write them. Post questions about it. Ask questions without publicly jumping to conclusions. Be forceful in getting right with the answers you hear.
- Get on two email subscriber lists – the representative’s and the political watchdog of your choice. Again, question without judgment. Keep asking questions to get answers. Make those answers public in your own way.
Here are the 3 Don’ts:
- Do not follow media outlets with political agendas. You’ll only be hearing a biased point of view. Let’s leave brainwashing up to the North Korean government.
- Don’t trust pundits who use anecdotal evidence or sound bites as universal fact. If you fall into their narrative you’ll be limiting your own voice.
- Absolutely do not forward emails that polarize or demean. Keep your eye on the prize: Positive results are the solutions you seek. Choosing to destroy someone’s character only throws gasoline on fires of distrust and fear.
Those in the free world have a freedom of rights but not a freedom from responsibility. Hop off the porch swing. Put down the sweet iced tea. Jump into a new order of involvement and seek true, sustained election results.
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