February, 2011


28
Feb 11

What’s Reality?

I attempted writing this blog entry earlier today but didn’t get anywhere.  So I did what anyone else would do… I took a nap.  It didn’t help.   

What do you do when you have something to do and energy and inspiration eludes you?  I would like to say that I look directly into the face of the task at hand and something noble rises up from inside and I wrestle that bad boy to the mat.

Unfortunately my life doesn’t have that Hollywoodish glamour or possess the savoir-faire that other people seem to have.  For whatever reason I really struggle with stuff I must do. 

But maybe that’s the problem.  When we look at other people, we automatically attribute qualities or intentions based on what we believe from what we see.  Good or bad.

Here’s the weird thing.  Someone might observe me and admire or possibly envy the apparent ease with which I write the blog.  They may be telling themselves they could never do that because they don’t have the talent.

I have been called a lot of things in my life but savoir-faire is not one. 

Have you ever seen someone in a situation and wonder why in the world they cannot see what they are doing or how they are coming across?  It amazes me when I see people do things that are so obvious. 

Clue Phone:  Maybe we do the same thing. 

TRUE CONFESSION TIME:

Now that we have been hanging out for a while together I have a confession.  I hope this sudden burst of personal revelation doesn’t disillusion you.

I am a Reality Show junkie.  Yep, it’s true. 

I watch American Idol, Amazing Race and… Survivor.  And no, I do not watch the Bachelor or the Biggest Loser. 

To feed the cultural and intellectual part of me I watch Antiques Roadshow.   And in case your wondering, yes, Antiques Roadshow is a REALITY SHOW.  You can’t pretend it’s not just because it’s on PBS.  So if you watch Antiques Roadshow… you watch reality TV.

Now if I want to get real earthy I will watch the hidden jewels of reality TV … Pawn Stars and American Pickers.  Good TV.   By the way, these two shows can’t be too bad because they are on the History Channel.

Now you may be wondering why I bring up reality TV in regards to writing this blog entry.   People on reality TV have a camera on them all the time and we view the behavior. 

The same is true about us only without the camera.  Every day people are interpreting our behaviors and then acting on what they believe. 

Most likely most of the time people interpret the actions accurately and act accordingly.  But I also know that many times people, self included, misinterpret the actions of others and handle things poorly.

“We measure other people by their actions and we measure ourselves by our intentions.”

- Stephen Covey

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My wife and I have talked about the fact that life experience is teaching us that many people are much more insecure than we would have ever guessed.  For example, somebody does something that we interpret as arrogant when in reality it was insecurity.

With life experience one learns that things aren’t as simple or one dimensional as one thinks. 

Personally, I believe it is my responsibility to understand how I come across to others.  It’s important to know because there are subtle things we all do that sends messages to others in ways that can be totally misinterpreted. 

It is these small subtle nuances and behaviors that can create negative patterns in the way people treat us. 

Now this is where it gets messy.  You can only identify and change these behaviors if we ask and allow people to give us feedback and… AND… we be willing to listen.

The second is harder than the first because when people start to point out things we (I) tend to get pretty defensive.

Since we are not part of a reality TV show we don’t have a camera following us around.  So it’s difficult to see ourselves as others see us.  We need the help of others.

Well, I guess I better wrap this blog entry up because The Amazing Race is about to start.

See you Thursday.


24
Feb 11

Life Stuff

“Electrical problems!”

This is not something you want to hear while sitting on the tarmac under the mid-day Florida sun.  Ugggh!

On Monday I talked about the surprise joys life offers you.  I like those.

Then… then there are the surprise life irritants.  I am not talking about big negative stuff but the niggley things that happen that are just… just… irritating.  I guess it’s sort of like the ants and mosquitoes of a picnic.  But then again, that’s part of the picnic experience.

But of course the level of irritation is in direct proportion to your frame of mind and the number of irritants.  A few ants and mosquitoes aren’t too bad but if you are having to fight off Texas size mosquitoes that are out to get a pint of blood each then patience does tend to run a bit thin.

Generally I am pretty easy going.  The delay wasn’t too bad.  It was much more tolerable because everyone on the plane seemed to be pretty cool about the delay.  That always makes a big difference.

What’s really frustrating is when you have a life irritant episode and then people around you get all in a tizzy pushing a routine irritant into the “pain in the ass” category.

Have you ever been on a picnic or fun event and someone is always complaining.  “It’s too hot”, “There’s bugs”, “The food is cold”.  Have you been in a situation like this and it makes you want to yell, “Someone please take a plastic fork and jab it in my neck and take me out.”

Now here’s the real tricky part.  I don’t think I am a pain in the ass type of person.  But then again, most people who are the purveyors of irritation don’t generally realize that they are making a somewhat tolerable situation intolerable.

Isn’t that the way it is.  We always tend to look at the other person but not at ourselves.  When another person is uncomfortable they are being a whiney pansy butt.  But if I am the one uncomfortable… I mean… who wouldn’t complain.  Things are unpleasant.  You would be upset too if a leaf fell into your potato salad.

The point is, there are things that are irritating.  But I, like everyone else, need to remember that how I respond under unpleasant circumstances either minimizes or magnifies the situation.

As I said earlier I don’t’ think that I am the complaining type… but.  There are times where I can get a bit testy.  I don’t know about you but I get much more complainy and irritable when I’m hungry.  If we ever meet and I get testy just shove a cookie in my mouth and all is good.

Up to this point the blog has been a somewhat fun perspective about life’s irritants and people being people.

But you know, there are some people who are completely self-consumed.  I must confess, I don’t understand these types of people.  It is so foreign to me.  As you know (those who have been reading my blog for a while), I tend to be much too concerned about people around me and worry about what they think.

Yes, I have my flat spots too just like everyone else.

Have you ever met or known someone who is self-consumed?  They’re focus is on what they want, when they want it.

I must have an issue with self-consumed people… seriously.  I am embarrassed to say this, but I found myself starting to get irritated writing about self-consumed people.   Good thing there wasn’t a plastic fork lying around.

But I am deciding at this point not to talk any more today about self-consumed people.  It’s a good day and I don’t want to spoil it.

My wife and I are on our way back home… no place like home.

In fact, I am writing this blog entry on our flight home.

Have a great weekend and keep plastic forks at a safe distance.

See you Monday.


21
Feb 11

A Surprise Gift

Hi all.  Good to see you again. 

In the last blog entry I hopefully made you think about the things you are willing to give your life for.  Well, today I am going to look at life from another direction… what life gives to us. 

As we all know, life can be pretty unpredictable.  Things happen over which we have no control.

First let me say that, there is no question that the choices we make and how well we take care of ourselves increase the odds for the quality of life we have.  But the topic regarding” the choices we make that make our life better” is a blog entry for another day. 

So the question is, what does life give to us? 

Interestingly, there’s a sad reality that says a lot about human nature.  If someone talks about the random things life gives to us, the natural default is to assume that we are referring to bad things that happen and how to cope.

But I want to talk about the surprise joys that come out of the blue.  These are the unplanned gifts that life gives us to enjoy… if… if we are willing to see and allow ourselves to enjoy.

This happened this past weekend.  An amazing gift of the moment… something you can never plan.  In fact, if you try to manufacture these moments they fall short.  The joy and fullness is magnified because of the serendipity of the moment.

My wife and I were in Florida for business and went down a day early to spend some time with my sister.  We had a nice day doing Florida stuff and my sister suggested for dinner we go to a small family owned Cuban restaurant.  She said the food was good and the price reasonable.

We drove through a neighborhood and came upon a somewhat non-descript little restaurant.  It was busy and we decided to wait to eat inside.  This decision sounds weird because in Florida everyone wants to eat outside.

Eating inside was a good decision.  As we walked in we were immediately swept away by the distinct sounds of Latin music, language, and energy.  Our heads exploded with the smell of spicy food and the overall energy of the room was consuming. 

It was one of those places where you immediately feel comfortable, welcome and engaged.  There were only about twelve tables and the kitchen was open with a bar dividing the room. 

The dinner tasted great and of course, it was really fun.  As mentioned, this was a very busy small family café.  We noticed that they started to run out of things and so were not sure if we would get what we ordered.  Sure enough, we got exactly what they had left in the kitchen; not exactly what we ordered…but it was incredible.

Let me share an interesting point here.  Although the food was great, atmosphere amazing and the time with my loved ones wonderful… this was not the serendipitous moment that sparked this blog entry.  That was yet to come, the topping on a great evening.

While we were eating people were constantly coming and going.  There was lots of talking, laughing and eating.  During the evening a group of six came and they caught my eye.  A fellow had his guitar with him.  They sat for a while and after they ordered, guitar man went out to the small patio with his friends following.

We finished our meal and stepped outside and bam!  It was like stepping on a movie set. 

Backdrop Information: There happened to be an international meeting in the town where classical guitar players from all over the world gathered to represent their countries.

When we stepped outside, two outstanding guitarists (one from Peru and the other from Cuba) were playing the most amazing Latin classical songs.

Everyone was swept up in the night.  The warm breeze, low lights, wonderful smells bellowing out of the café and soft Latin rhythms.  When they finished one song they would immediately start another. 

What made it even better was that someone picked up some bongo drums and began to provide a swaying Latin beat while another joined in with two percussion sticks that added a gentle snap.

It was one of those moments you cannot plan.  You receive it as a gift from God and enjoy it down to your toes.

Life does offer some wonderful moments.  If not careful we easily become consumed with the negative things and lose those times that are gifts.

Ah… It was good.  See you Thursday.


17
Feb 11

Buying Time

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I was reminded this week of an amazing experience I had a few years ago.

Side Note: When seemingly out of the blue we are struck by a memory or something stirs our hearts and heads in an unusual way… take note.  It is important to pay attention because most of the time these are not cosmic random accidents.

I believe that at different points in our life we are ready to move forward in a particular aspect of our growth.  These seemingly random events are God’s tap on the shoulder to let us know that now is the time to take a step in a new direction.

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I accompanied a CEO of a significant mid-sized company to an industry forum at a University.  The attendees were leaders of companies in a particular industry, educators and students.

It was your run of the mill meeting until the leaders were asked about how to instill loyalty into employees.

My friend answered this way.

“Loyalty is a value that is reflected.  Employees will only be as loyal to a company, as the company is to them.

‘We pay a commodity (money) for the most priceless thing a person has… their time.  We give a person something in return for this priceless gift… time from their life.”

This begs one of the most important questions of our existence… what is my life worth?  What is the value I place on my life?

We can get pretty lofty and philosophical rather quickly on a topic such as this.  But in reality it’s pretty simple.

We are constantly giving (exchanging) our life for something.

As mentioned earlier, we sell our time.  We get money for the hours we give daily to our employer.  I am not saying this is a bad thing but only to bring to point the fact that we are constantly exchanging our most priceless possession, time, for something.

Tossing around this idea of exchanging our life for something causes me to pause.  It forces me, as it should, to assess the various aspects of my life as to whether I am frittering away this priceless commodity or not.

I personally believe that to have a growing and vibrant life that we must periodically take pause to reflect on our life choices.  Why we need to do it periodically is because what we view as worthwhile or important changes with time and life experiences.

Now, I don’t want this quick peek into our life to get all heavy and burdensome.  It is not meant to be.  It is just one of those spots where we take advantage of some new insights to adjust the use of our time.

My Credo:   Progress not Perfection

The following is an adjustment that I know will take me forward to a happier more productive life.  For me this quick stop has heightened the prickly sensation I have been getting in regards to the amount of TV that I watch… too much.

This is not a new insight but points like this press the issue and forces a decision… ignore it and stay where I am or make some changes and enjoy my life journey more.

It is not a matter of giving up TV because that is not what I feel is required.  But, just like you, I know when I cross the line of relaxation and enjoyment into a complete waste of an hour of my life.

It is times like that where we actually exchange our most precious commodity for something of no value.

It is also important to remember that assessing life choices is a very individualized and personal assessment.   What one sees as a worthwhile endeavor to another is seen a waste of time.

You may not have an issue of watching too much TV.  Maybe it’s reading too much, games, or other mindless time wasters.  Something that makes you feel crappy after jettisoning an hour of your life into infinity.

Now there are some of you who are reading this with that smug look on your face indicating that you are above the trivial time wasters.  You trade your time too.  We who waste time are fully aware that we do so.  You on the other hand are trapped in the delusion that what you do seems “productive”.

For you “productive” types, maybe your time escape is running, working, endless chores, anything to validate your worth.

I believe we spend half of our life trying to figure out how to live our life.  I think for the most part in the early years we throw our lives at all sorts of stuff.  This is a sort of trial and error approach to living from which we get life lessons.

Some may see writing a blog as a waste of time.  Especially the time wasted writing a blog that no one may read or about the nebulous topic… life.

But that’s the beauty of life.  I know this is a good productive thing for me.

The issue is, what are you to do differently that will help you grow?

See you Monday.


14
Feb 11

Love is in the Air

The many ways of love!

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Most of the topics I write on just seem to peek their way into consciousness and eventually take shape by bouncing around in my head for a while, then they finally pop out on the written page.

Yes, you guessed it, at times there can be quite a commotion in my head with all those ideas and thoughts bouncing around bumping into each other.  I have to say though, that I find my head pretty entertaining at times, cluttered but entertaining.

But on occasion there are topics that are thrust upon you.  Today is one of those topics. Continue reading →


10
Feb 11

Determining Value

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I ran across something I wrote a couple of years back that made me start thinking about the “worth” or “value” of something.

This may sound pretty simple on the surface but placing value on something is a relative term, that means different things to different people.  We have all heard the old axiom, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

There is of course monetary value but it is so narrow and simplistic.  And, in reality monetary value tends to be one of the lower measures of true value or worth. Continue reading →


7
Feb 11

Greatness Revisited

Hi, just so you know, I’m feeling better today.  In fact I feeling pretty chipper.  But as we all know feeling “chipper” doesn’t guarantee I will have anything worthwhile to say.

Before I jump into the meaty topic of the difference between being fame and greatness I have something I want you to see.

Notice anything new on the blog?  I’ll wait while you peruse the page.

Huh… can’t find it?  Just slide your eyes over to the top of the column on right side of the page… that’s it!

Several people asked if they could be emailed when I posted a new blog entry – Wah Lah.

If you want these entries to be sent electronically all you need to do is put your email address in the box and follow the instructions.  It’s very simple.

OK, now that we got the blatant self promotion out of the way it is time to tackle the more worthwhile topic… “Greatness”.

Those of you who visited with me last Monday (it should have been Thursday but I was a slug so I didn’t get it done) know that I started to grapple the difference between fame and greatness.

It seems I have a talent for tapping into a topic that is much larger than me and then feel inadequate because I can’t do it justice.

Greatness is definitely one of those topics.

As I contemplated the topic, several simple thoughts surfaced.

First, fame is pretty easy for me to wrap my arms around.  It’s relatively straight forward and easily definable.  A person can become famous quickly for both noble and ignoble acts.  Fame is basically the number of people that are aware of who you are.

For example, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III became quickly famous when he landed the plane in the Hudson River.  He may be a person of greatness, but if he is, his greatness is not defined by the river landing.  The river landing only brought him to our attention.

Side Note: I choose a noble act intentionally.  There are literally thousands of acts that make one famous that are… shall we say… of less noble quality.

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Please understand, I am not saying that his landing the plane was not an act of greatness.  But unlike fame, greatness is not defined by a single action.  A single action reflects the content of who we are.

Fame tends to be fickle in that you can be famous one day and forgotten the next.  Some experience Warhol’s proverbial fifteen minutes of fame and others maintain their fame by continued high profile activities.

The point is, fame is fleeting, whereas greatness seems to naturally self-sustain.

The price of greatness is responsibility.

-  Sir Winston Churchill

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Don’t get me wrong.  I believe there are people of greatness who are famous.  There are wonderful examples of leaders whose greatness provide direction and strength during times of difficulty.

Difficulty, my brethren, is the nurse of greatness

- William Cullen Bryant

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But I also believe there are amazingly great people all around who will never know the bright lights of fame.  They are the salt of the earth people that provide the foundation of who we are as a society.

Greatness is close kin to character and true character tends not to be self promoting.  True character is the fodder for greatness.

Greatness is what you are not who you are or what you possess.

I just read a story about a woman whose parents did not make it past the eighth grade yet left a legacy for their children of love, hard work and integrity… a foundation that allowed their children to step beyond them and carry the same traits forward.

Now that’s greatness!

It’s not what you take but what you leave behind that defines greatness.

-          Edward Gardner

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So once again, stories and topics such as this help me to keep my eyes on the horizon to the things of what’s really important.

See you Thursday.


3
Feb 11

Knock, Knock… anyone home?

No perky greeting today… I feel like a slug.

You ever have days like this?  Too bad.   No sympathy from me.  When you feel like a slug, the dominate emotional traits are not sensitivity and empathy.

Feeling like a slug today is particularly poor timing because the topic at hand demands a mastery of the heart and head… and that of course eludes me.

I’ve started this blog about five times.

I’ll start and then I gotta get some coffee.  Or I am compelled to jump on the web to find out the latest news on Lindsay Lohan (just kidding).

What happens most of the time is that I sit at the keyboard with my fingers on the keys (poised for greatness) and then I suddenly snap to consciousness.

I didn’t fall asleep.  It’s just that my mind acquiesced (without my consent I might add) to the dense fog of… of… I have no idea.  There is absolutely no telling where my head went dancing off to while I sit like a mannequin at my desk.

All I know is that all of a sudden my mind is jolted awake like the slamming door of a teenager trying to sneak back in well past curfew.

Now I have a couple of choices.  I can fight the feeling, but frankly that feels like too much work and exerting effort is not high on my choice list.  Or I can give in and bask in the dull delight of the mediocrity of the moment.

I must say, neither of those choices interests me.  So I have only one logical option… YouTube.

Yep, you can always find something to get you going.

So I ran across these two videos.  One is cute that advertises a TV show and the other is… odd.  Funny but odd.  The first forty seconds are slow (like I am) but then it gets better.  The credits are funny.

Side Note: After you view the two videos there will be no question in your mind regarding my state of being.

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The only thing that really frightens me is that both of them are from somewhere that has a British accent.  I think one is Australia and other from… UK?

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YouTube Preview Image

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Video Two:  The weird one.

YouTube Preview Image

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Okay, I didn’t say they were great videos.  But they gave me a little jolt of energy (which isn’t saying much).

Oh well, the alertness required to tackle the topic of greatness has yet to creep into my psyche.

Maybe the Super Bowl will get me energized to actually talk about “greatness” on Monday.

See you then… that is, if you show up again after this entry.

Later.