Tag Archives: motivation

Anonymous, Random Acts of Kindness

We have all read the stories, the tab paid by some stranger.  The super tip left behind.  However, it is the small ones that sometimes go unreported that can make all the difference.  This morning was one of those times you stumble upon one of those small things that just might make a difference…

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There were a dozen odd chalk messages scrolled on the neighborhood sidewalks.

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Some were whimsical and quite cliche, and others were straight to the point.

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But all were positive and uplifting, they brought a smile to your face, but above all were simply “just there” for everyone to read.

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The real beauty is that we will never really know who did it, and we are all better for it, the not knowing.  An all too aware adult or an innocent child?  It does not matter.  It is the message that matters, and I for one am better for it.

A thanks is owed to someone, and whomever they are, please know I am grateful and the message has been passed.

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Just Keep Pushing, or Spinning, or…

Two reminders in two days.  One unfolded in almost complete isolation and anonymity over the course of hours, and the other…well about as public it gets and it took all of 17 seconds.  A lonely road in the Mt. Hood Classic stage race, and the Stanley Cup Finals.  Two extremes yet the same lesson – never quit.  You stop working at it and your fate is sealed.  You press on and maybe, just maybe you will reach your goal.

First there was this line from a buddy as he described the last stage of a bike race on Sunday:

“Just spin and finish and all will be well!”

He was 50+ miles into a 70+ mile final stage when his body started shutting down and he lost contact with the leaders.  As he described it, he could pull over and quit, which every logical thought told him to do, or he could pedal.  Needless to say he rode through the pain.  He kept spinning, eventually caught back onto the leaders and ultimately found himself standing on the podium.  At that dark and lonely moment he had the choice:  Quit or Continue.  He carried on; slow at first, but gradually gaining speed, and ultimately gaining strength and finally success.

Then there was the Blackhawks.  The biggest stage in hockey.  An international audience.  Time was running out in the game, the Blackhawks had a choice – play on or  let the last 90 seconds wind down and head back to Chicago for game seven on their home ice.  Not only did they press on, they pulled their goalie and went all in to try to tie the game.  The video is just too good not to post…sorry Bruins fans, but the action is just too good:

Nothing too complex really…just keep grinding.  Keep moving.  Keep pushing.  Keep working it.  Keep playing.  Never give up and never quit.  Yet again the clichés of sports: “race through the finish line”, “play to the whistle”, and of course “it ain’t over ’til it’s over”. There is a reason clichés become, well clichés.  They are based in fact and have withstood the test of time.  Yet again, thanks to sports for reminding us all to stick with it, even when it seems all is lost.

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No “Rest of the Story” Needed

It was the voice. For many that grew up in certain times and in certain areas, it is unmistakable. And at some point after the “power outage” but before the end of the game, I was stopped dead in my tracks as I was walking out of the room so I could watch a commercial.  It was all because I heard that voice.  However it was the message that made us all stop and think.

I grew up on Paul Harvey, 4H, FFA and the family farm culture of the Midwest. For me radio consisted of classic rock, Jack Buck calling Cardinal games and Paul Harvey doing his folksy news thing.  We would laugh at our parents for listening to “those stations”, yet you could not walk away when he was doing the news.  There was just something special there that worked…even for a kid.  Dodge tapped into that yesterday, and it was brilliant.

It was an interesting contrast, the personalities and characteristics of the celebrities, entertainers and athletes the entire event provided, and the message of that one simple commercial.  Actually it was nothing more than an edited speech from the late 1970’s layered over still photos.   All the flash and hype, hip vibe and cutting edge technology came to a halt for two minutes…it was an amazing contrast.

There really is nothing to expand upon. The message stands alone. That is the best example there is really…just a timeless message of fundamental behaviours and core character traits, delivered in a classic, timeless style.  No flashy production, no actors or celebrities, nothing but a message of values and traits.  Great reminder and brilliant marketing.

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What Zig Ziglar Shared…at least with me

Zig Ziglar. Sales. Success. Positive Attitude. All synonyms really, and that is one great legacy. For almost anyone that has spent time in sales, client service, or just in business, Zig Ziglar is sort of legend, or at least a myth. The books, the seminars, the podcasts, the videos, motivational series, or just the stories of having heard or seen him at a conference are part of the fabric of business.  Even if you never read one of his books or saw him in person, the name itself is just memorable.

15+ years ago I saw Zig Ziglar at a seminar, and I think I saw him at least a few other times at various training, leadership or motivational rah-rah corporate conferences.  Maybe they were videos – I just don’t remember the specifics.  I have read or skimmed several of the books.  Though I was no great fan, I knew enough to recognize a good thing.  He was folksy, grandfathery, sort of like the colorful and fun uncle, or the small town guys out front of the barbershop spinning tales and sharing wisdom.  He was neither threatening nor flashy, yet he was animated and engaging.  He had that disarming quality of seemingly sharing homespun wisdom in a manner that just draws people in and appeals to almost every audience.

Over the years I realized Zig Ziglar was not terribly innovative, original, or even profound.  However what he was, and in my opinion why he resonated, is that he told you what you already knew but were afraid or unwilling to acknowledge.  He spoke of a truth that resides in everyone, yet it is a truth that is very difficult to recognize and even harder to accept.  Zig Ziglar was the mirror that we were forced to look into; he challenged his audience to do what needed to be done.  He forced his audience to acknowledge what they knew deep down had to be done.  And he did it in the nicest way possible.

What Zig Ziglar spoke and wrote of was simple really: work hard, do the right thing, focus on what is really important and go the extra mile.  In sales he would tell you to fill the funnel, to deliver what you promised and to ask for the order.  He was all about being positive, recognizing the good and getting rid of the bad.  He put the ownness on you; it was up to you to be positive, to take responsibility and to do what needed to be done.  What needed to be done in life, in business, and in relationships.  Again, not terribly innovative or original, yet something everyone to one degree or another needs to hear occasionally.

Impressive really, the ability to tell people what they do not want to hear and have them like you for doing it.  The real genius of Zig Ziglar:  he was able to do the above AND have you pay for it!  Yep, that guy could sell, no question.   Literally tens of millions of books in print, countless hours of seminars and presentations on video, an entire company built around the man and his theories.  All told an impressive legacy.  Not bad for a small town salesman.

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Something of Value From Congress?

Hard to believe, but there just might be something of value that came from Congress and the Debt Ceiling vote this week. Well, something of value that happened in that building during the vote is a better way to put it. Strip away the politics, the sound bites, the rhetorical garbage and for a moment reflect on Representative Gabriel Gifford’s walk into that chamber to vote…incredible.

Yes, it is incredible to see anyone survive an assassination attempt, but a gun shot wound to the head – it ranks up there on the miracle scale. But to see her “show up for work” at such a moment, that is a lesson for us all. And do not forget, her husband, Mark Kelly also “showed up for work” as commander of a space shuttle mission in April. No slouch himself in his ability to focus in trying times.

So what is the point? Remember these two when the temptation is there to sluff it off, to take the easy way out, to put comfort and ease ahead of commitments and responsibilities. Clearly everyone has their priorities, but when you make a committment and a promise to others, as a Representative, a Shuttle Commander, a boss, an employee, a teammate, a parent, a friend or a spouse, that committment trumps your own needs. It is just the way it is, or at least should be.

Oh, and to think, a fair number of her “peers” in Congress do not even have the guts to vote yes or no, they abstained or otherwise vote present or some such noncommittal move. Leaders lead, they make decisions and they live with the consequences, and they do what is best for others, not for themselves. Thankfully something of value came from Congress this week.

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Goals Met, Visions Lost

Beyond Tang, it is hard to say how much manned space flight has really meant to the progress of science, technology, society and the overall human experience. However, it is tough to deny, there was something amazing about the idea of putting men on the moon. I mean really, think that through next time you are outside looking at the night sky. For many a trip to the store is a journey. Driving to Disney is a high point in family memories. Going to Europe – big stuff.  NASA has been putting people in space and safely returning them to earth now for almost 50 years…staggering.

It all ends in a few days. With the landing of Atlantis later this week, the United States and NASA are officially out of the manned space flight business. Who knows what the final tally in cost really is, and there is absolutely no way to calculate a return on the investment made.  Regardless, it is the end of an era. However one might feel about NASA, space flight, budgets and cost, it is the end of something that was special. It was without question a massive success, a source of pride to millions, and one hell of an example for goal setting and achievement.

Goals are a peculiar thing – some folks write them down, some post them on facebook, and now and again a President lays them out for everyone to hear. Public expressions of goals are scary – you literally put yourself on the hook – everyone will know if you succeed or fail. There is no cover and no excuses.  When focus and committment are required, make the goal public.

The converse of the above also holds – not having goals leads to lack of focus, committment and vision.  When a person or organization has nothing to aim for, when there is no goal, it is an absolute certainty that morale, productivity and pride will all suffer.  It has to be tough for NASA, to have accomplished so much, to have achieved such goals, to have been at the forefront of innovation, and know the end is literally just a few days away.  Imagine what could be if only there was a goal.

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Thanks to a Three-Legged Dog

Yes, I am a dog person; the disclaimer is on the table.  The fact of the matter remains, I have learned a lot from a “tripod” or two over the years. I was a kennel boy through high school and college – worked with and learned a lot of lessons from a lot of different dogs.  It might not be quite so PC anymore to use the phrase “tripod”, but it is one fitting and accurately descriptive term for a dog that is short a leg.

The other night we ran into Heidi, a dog we had not seen for a few months.  She had lost a leg as a result of a freak infection.  It was horrible to hear, and sad to see, yet there she was back out walking, happy as ever and full of life.  It was one hell of a reminder.

Now it is not just a lesson that is only taught by a three-legged, or even four-legged dog. In reality it is one of the greatest lessons from pets, or from the greater animal kingdom in general. So what is that lesson? Simple really – play the hand you are dealt.  Play it with grace, poise and yes even happiness. Never fret over what was, embrace what is and be grateful that there is a today and possibly a tomorrow.

Seriously, think about a time you have ever seen a dog wallowing in self-pity, worried about what others might think, or just not living in the moment? The other great visual is the “cone of shame”:

Humans would be mortified to wear that thing out in public. But to a dog, while it might be an annoyance and hindrance, it is not something that stops them from living life to the fullest. They never refuse to go for a walk because of how they look. They lose a leg, they figure it out and move on, happy to just be in the game. It is a hell of a lesson.

Granted, trauma is not a laughing matter, for anyone or any animal.  Be it physical, emotional, fiscal or whatever, the fact remains how we respond to hardship is the key.  There will be challenges in any journey, but the question is will we respond like the three-legged dog?  Thanks for the reminder Heidi.

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