Monday, December 30, 2013


I love my family!  They are the reason that I choose to do the things that I do, and who I enjoy spending time with!  With one daughter away at college, and while we are still a family unit, it has been a while since we were together and acted as a single entity.  We made the decision to go to Baltimore for a few days and pretty much leave behind all of our outside contacts.  For 4 days and nights we had the time to enjoy each other’s company as only a family can do.  And while I realize that the number of times for opportunities like this with just the four of us (OK, we brought the dog, too) is greater in our past than in our future, it was important for us to put aside the time and take this trip together as a family.

We have all heard the story about the man that was lying on his death bed and asked if he have any regrets in his life.  His answer was that he did not spend more time with his family.  When we reach the end of our lives, we do not lay there on our death bed and wish we worked longer hours, or regret a missed opportunity.  We may wish that we had spent our time on this earth more wisely, but surely that we had spent more time with the ones that we love.  I am always amazed at some of the personalities in the Bible and throughout history that because of their sense of purpose, have put aside their families.  Oh, sure, they may be there, but are relegated to the background.  Their love must have been so great for the masses, that in their perceptions, we are all a part of their family to succeed for.

Look, I am no different than any other working stiff; I work hard at making a living to provide for my family, and I work hard so that I can spend quality time with my family.  When I have traveled for work, I always looked forward to returning home to my wife and children.  At times, I have juggled my priorities, to be with my family.  In fact, there was a time where I returned from a trip from Hong Kong and went straight to the field to watch my daughters play rec ball.  Time does not stand still for us to enjoy our children while they are young, or our spouse while they are vital and healthy.  We need to parse out time to spend with them, while we are all capable.  As we end 2013 and move seamlessly into 2014, remember to tell your family, while wishing them a Happy New Year, that you love them and are grateful and blessed for them being part of your life. 

From my family to yours, we want to wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

`Tis the Season

The nice part about the end of December is that everyone seems to be in alignment with the refrain from the song referred to in the title.  Everyone seems a little more upbeat, a little happier.  The school children are excited about their time away from school and the parents are excited about their upcoming vacation / family time.  When we go out to eat, we tend to be more generous with our tips and when we pass someone asking for money on a city corner, we tend to be more open to help them.  Good spirits (not the alcoholic kind) seem to be in abundance, kindness the order of the day and everyone has gratitude to spare.

Talking to a friend recently, we both noted that this time of the year, people are generally happy, then in 2 weeks they go back to their grumpy old selves.  It is almost as if we believe, regardless of our religious affiliation, in the verse, “…he knows if you’ve been naughty or nice…”  The same attitudes exist in the work place around job review time.  We tend to be extra nice in the weeks leading up to this time, work a little longer and put in a little extra effort to show we are “worthy” of a good review, a salary increase and a bonus.  When we do not get what we expected, we become grumpy, place blame on others for the situation we find ourselves in and the following year, begin the cycle over again.  We completely wipe out 11 months of mediocre (or sub-mediocre) activities and assume that the one month is all that counts.  The amazing thing is that we convince ourselves that this is true, and that it must be true to the people that we surround ourselves with.

After the first of the year, we should all make the extra effort to continue the attitude that we carry around with us in the month of December.  By taking this action, we not only infect ourselves positively, but we have the opportunity to infect a positive attitude upon the people we see and talk to on a daily basis.  Every morning, when people ask me “How are you?”, I almost always respond in a cheerful voice, “Wonderful!”  One day, where I work, one of the ladies stopped me and told me that my response makes her feel better about the day ahead since I am always so happy.  In the words of Jim Rohn, “Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.”  Continue to spread a little bit of your holiday cheer throughout the year and watch the impact on the people around you, as begin to reflect your positive attitude back.

Hope you all have a great holiday and enjoy the time spent with your family and friends. 

Please feel free to leave any comments below.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Yin and Yang – Success and Failure

Yin and Yang is an ancient Chinese symbol / concept that in a simplified definition reflect light and dark (positive and negative).  They are dependent upon one another and show that each side contains a piece of the other.  If the white portion represented a person that lives a righteous life and the dark represents someone that lives an immoral life, the two must co-exist as contrasts to each other.  The smaller spots show each one also has the propensity or the attribute opposite to themselves, such that the righteous man could do something immoral (think of men of faith that commit a crime) or an immoral person can do acts of kindness (money from ill-gotten means donated to help those less fortunate).  

In applying this concept to the world around us, we have all met someone educated in a prestigious school and yet made stupid decisions.  Conversely, we have all heard of people that could barely contribute to a conversation of any caliber, yet attained high positions within their companies.  This brings up the question, if we strive to be successful, do we each have within us the seeds for failure?  Randy Gage, a successful network marketer, speaker and author, in his book “Why You’re Dumb, Sick and Broke…And How to Get Smart, Healthy and Rich!” talks about how he strove for success, but had within himself the seeds for extreme failure (almost got himself killed).  Likewise, I have heard Donald Trump talk about how he went from being highly successful, then having his companies head towards bankruptcy because of his own actions.  In both of these examples (and there are others), these men realized where they were and took the steps to mend their lives.

If men that have achieved high success, can also hit times in their lives where failure is a fact, do we also have the same capacity?  Of course the answer is yes.  Using myself as an example, I work hard to better myself, listen to positive audio, engage in personal development and generally project a positive attitude.  Occasionally, I do have missteps and make stupid decisions (no, I am not going to go into details).  Over the course of a lifetime, they might not seem to be significant.  However, small missteps can unintentionally hurt others and over time can accumulate to have major impacts (as outlined in Jeff Olson’s “The Slight Edge”) on ourselves and those around us.  We must always remain on guard and evaluate all of our actions to maintain the path that we wish to travel on.  We all have the choice to step off the path, whether intentionally or not.  We continue, however, to strive to be the Yang (bright, positive), even though we carry a piece of Yin (dark, negative) within us.

For more information on defining Yin and Yang, refer to the website

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Knowing What You Know

I was invited to an introductory seminar this past Monday by some of my friends.  They were excited about their experience and wanted to share this with me.  I happily joined them for a unique, positive experience and during the course of the evening I learned a few things about myself.  Towards the end of the night, there was an interesting concept that they discussed, one that is not new, but good to revisit.  They talked in terms of 3 things – (1) Knowing what you know, (2) Knowing what you do not know, and (3) Not knowing what you do not know.  Yes, I know, it sounds like a tongue twister. 

To explain, I will use the example of music:
(1)    Knowing what you know – I know that I know how to play the piano.
(2)    Knowing what you do not know – I know that I do not know how to play the bagpipes, but I could take the time and learn this instrument.  Once I learn the bagpipes, it moves up into category (1)
(3)    Not knowing what you do not know – I asked my daughter, Gab, to help me with this one.  If you were to hand me an instrument that I never saw before, let’s say an Agogo; prior to that moment, it would be an instrument I did not know that I did not know.  Now that I know about this instrument, it moves up into category (2)

Being a fan of personal growth / development, this concept, at this point in my life intrigues me.  In the larger world, I am pretty confident that there is a lot that I have neither seen nor experienced, so I would expect the third category to be sizable.  When I first started reading the books that I currently read, I would read books that were recommended by other people (“Think and Grow Rich”, “The Power of Positive Thinking”, etc.), or authors (John C. Maxwell, Robin Sharma, etc.).  As I began to read through these books, most of them contained names of books or authors that were influences.  This led me to read new books and topics I previously did not know about.  Well, I might have known vaguely about them in a related way, but not specifics.  For example, a few years ago, I knew what a leader was, but not that there existed a whole philosophy / study behind this.  Similarly, I read a book about methods to influence people (sounded more like manipulating).  The book gave strategies that once you could identify someone covertly trying to influence you, there are maneuvers you can take to “cut off” unwanted influences. 

Living in a world where we are happy with knowing what we know and recognizing knowing what we do not know, we ensure that we remain at the place where we are at today.  Living in a world where we pursue things of interest in the things that we know we do not know, and learning / education ourselves, we expose ourselves to the things that we did not know we did not know, providing us with the opportunity for growth.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Attitude of Gratitude

A few years ago, we attended a Thanksgiving dinner and at some point in the meal, the hostess announced that it was time to go around the table and say something that you were thankful for over the past year.  As she kicked it off with some beautiful words that flowed freely from her mouth, I began to feel a little uncomfortable.  Speaking in front of people has never been a problem for me, but having to come up with something of great significance got me all nervous.  As we went around the table, I noticed that I was not alone.  Not one person said anything deep and meaningful, heartfelt or of great significance.  Wow, that was one anxiety filled exercise!

This year, I decided to be one step ahead of the game – I would take time to prepare some thoughts.  After much thinking, I came up with a plan, as Thanksgiving unfolded, I would jot down any thing that I was thankful for during the course of the day and see how many things I could identify for that one day.  Now this was not an easy task, because as the day began, I realized that as the day got busy, I would have to remember some things to write down when I had a chance.  During a normal day, we can think of a handful of things to be grateful for, but in the course of a day, you stop and realize some of the smaller things, such as a touch shared with your spouse; thankful for conveniences, without which the effort would be enormous; people in our lives; the things we read that inspire us.

That one Thanksgiving, the hostess’ heart was clearly in the right place.  We should always have an attitude of gratitude and it should not be relegated to one or two days a year.  As my Thanksgiving Day ended, I had collected a list of 20 things to be grateful.  For the first time in many years, my entire immediate family was able to be together – for this I am most grateful and for that sake, this past Thanksgiving was an event to cherish for a long time.

What was memorable for you that you are thankful for?