Monday, October 31, 2011

Turning Tough Times Into Triumph

I had a chance to read a great book called Bounce - The Art of Turning Tough Times Into Triumph. If you're like me, facing the economic crunch and issues of the day, you can probably relate to the challenge of triumphing over tough times.
Let me highlight a few passages in the book to give you some food for thought --

"It's often during life's most difficult times that we discover our most critical hidden strengths and that we forge our most important capabilities."
So, I guess we need to look at the silverlining during our tough times, huh? It allows our strengths and capabilities to surface. If we didn't go through these times, we may never know we had them. Apparently tough times are good for us......

"The significant problems we are facing cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."- Albert Einstein
So, I guess we need to "think outside the box". We might have to get creative to solve some of these issues. Who knows, we might create an entirely "new world" or paradigm that takes us to a new level.

"Hold hands in traffic"
People naturally want to blame someone other than themselves in times of crisis. This phrase serves to remind us that it is in difficult times that we most need one another and most need to stick together. We have to remember that we're in control of how we respond to a situation. We shouldn't blame outside forces. We need to focus on attacking our problems and not one another.

"It takes pressure to get people out of their comfort zone to change. Any meaningful change is painful, which causes people to naturally start to feel anxious"
The book relayed that the key to anxiety is focusing on the correct anxiety. There are two types of anxiety -- one is caused by the fear of change, while the other is the fear of what will happen to you if you don't change.

Just some food for thought...... I hope you triumph over your tough times, if that's where you are right now. I know that's my goal.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Relatively Speaking.....

Everything truly IS relative, isn't it? If we will use that to our advantage, it can really impact our daily attitudes.
For example, when I have a "nippy" day in Florida this time of year (you know, like 60 degrees) all I have to do is call my dad in Iowa and hear about the frost they're having already.  All of the sudden I feel toasty warm and enjoy the day more.

Or what about the times you have to drive to work in the rain? The traffic is moving slowly and you seem to hit every red light.  How much better do you feel when you pass the guy that is changing a flat tire in that same weather?  Should I go on?

No matter what goes on during our day, week, month or year, I can promise you I can find somebody going through a worse time or situation -- which of course will make you feel a lot better about your circumstances...... Keep that in mind the next time your finances look in shambles, or the car breaks down, or you don't feel like you have any time to yourself, etc.....

One last thought to make my point --
Tomorrow go to the pharmacy and purchase a rectal thermometer made by Johnson & Johnson. Take out the literature from the box and read it carefully. I've been told you will notice in small print that there is a statement: "Every rectal thermometer made by Johnson & Johnson has been personally tested and then sanitized."

Now repeat after me, Thank God I don't work in the thermometer quality control department for Johnson & Johnson.

Glad we could be there for you. Let's look for the best in the day and I'm sure we'll find it.
God bless.

What's your legacy?

There have been a lot of news articles and videos recently about the incredble life of Steve Jobs.  His accomplishments were remarkable.  He was the co-founder of Apple, one of the most successful technology companies ever.  His genius brought us iconic products like the iPhone, iPad and iPod, to name a few.  He created "breakthrough technologies" for animated movies, while working at one of his companies that was the forerunner to Pixar.  Phenomenal accomplishments for a man who never graduated from college.

Steve Jobs recently died at the age of 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.  I learned of his passing on AOL news, which I read on my iPhone.  It was surreal to read about his death on one of the devices that he created.  The article said that he was a "visionary" in his public life and that in his private life he cherished his family.  He left behind a wife and three children.

I don't know a lot about Mr. Jobs but I certainly admire his spirit, drive and intelligence.  He accomplished more in his extraordinary life than most of us could ever dream.  I've been thinking about him a lot since his passing.  I recently watched a video of a speech he delivered to the Stanford University graduates in 2006. In the speech, he seemed to be humble and appreciative. He had recently survived surgery, which he thought at the time, had completely removed the cancer from his body.  That surgery did, in fact, add almost five and half more years to his life.

Steve Jobs was worth billions of dollars. But I find myself wondering if that mattered much to him.   I even wonder if all of his inventions and business accomplishments really mattered much in his final days.  His obituary (which I also read on my iPhone) said that he died peacefully surrounded by his family (not his inventions).

Our way of life was drastically changed by this man's creations....yet life goes on and eventually someone else will come up with even greater inventions.  I'm sure that we will all think about Steve Jobs less and less. All of us except his family and his closest friends.  They will probably think of him more and more, because his legacy lives on through them.

So, my question today to myself and to you is a simple one.  Are you investing your time, talents and resources in the people who matter the most?  Are you taking the time to talk to them "in person?".......or are you spending way too much time on your iPod, iPad or iPhone?  Remember, your legacy is really the only thing that lives on after your time on earth is done.  It is all about the people in your life whom you can influence the most.  Invest in those people TODAY!!! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Peacock Poop......

Isn't it amazing what we can learn from our pets?  I have a 14 year-old Yorkie named Honey Bear that is constantly teaching me things.  I also have a neighborhood peacock that loves to spend a large part of his morning in my back yard.  Apparently it's a great place for his "morning constitution". This is where our lesson begins.....

For some reason, God created dogs to smell and eat poop.... So when I let Honey out into the backyard, he has one goal in mind..... to find peacock poop.  Unfortunately for him, he has no system.  He just wanders through the yard, serpentining here and there, to and fro, back and forth, yon and der... (okay, I ran out).  Since we have a pretty big yard, he spends a long time out there and rarely finds his "goal for the day".

That made me think about my approach to achieving MY goal for each day.  How do I go about finding my "peacock poop" for the day?  Do I have a system or plan? Do I wander through the day and hope that I run across the right people I need to help me succeed?  Do I think that I can just go through my day with my mind wandering and think I'm going to magically come up with a great solution to a company problem?  Do I think I am going to effectively serve others or communicate with God today just by chance?

Of course not!  Our personal growth does not just happen. We MUST be intentional with our day.  We must live each day directing our thoughts and actions to have purpose.

I challenge you today to take control of your thoughts and actions.  Use your time wisely and purposefully today.  Don't be random.  Be intentional.  And I hope you have loftier goals than Honey Bear.   

Friday, October 14, 2011

Your Fly is Undone-A lesson in humility

I've been a host on the QVC network for the past 20-plus years. It's a fun and challenging job. Our studios in West Chester, PA are HUGE.  There are windows along the top of each studio and during the day tour groups stroll by and stop for a peak down into the studio. At the end of the route, there is a "cat walk" where they can actually walk out over the "live"studio.

One day I was getting ready to go on the air to host a jewelry show. I always stop up to the Producer's desk which is perched atop one corner of the studio. As I was finishing up my "pre-show meeting," I looked up and saw a group on the cat walk. I waved enthusiastically and welcomed them to Studio A. It's always fun to say "hi" to our viewers because they feel like they know us and they are always excited to see us in person. I was wearing one of finest suits so I felt like I was "looking pretty good!" I  ran down the steps to the studio to take my place on the set after my greeting.

As the director was setting up my camera shot he said, rather emphatically, into my earpiece, "Dan, you might want to check your fly." I said, "Yea sure. I'm not falling for that one!" "No, you really should check it out now!" I looked down and sure enough it was completely unzipped, My navy blue undies were on display for all the world (and the tour group I had just greeted) to see.

I can only imagine what the conversation among the tour group was: "Wow, we have never seen a host with his fly down before!" or "I wonder if Dan wanders the halls of QVC like that and zips up just before his show! or "We sure got our money's worth today!"

God sure as a sense of humor!  He has His Ways to keep us HUMBLE!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I've Always Taken Great Pride in My Humility

What do you think God hates the most? I would say, based on what we observe in the New Testament, it would have to be PRIDE. Christ usually had something to say about it, in pretty strong words. Sooo, what attitude helps to eliminate pride from our lives? Bingo -- humility.

This is good for me, because I've always taken great pride in my humility....

It's interesting how God has a way of keeping us in line.... Recently, I went for  physical therapy on my tendinitical shoulder (I just made up that word...has to do with the tendons). The therapist observed something he wanted the doctor to take a look at. He retreived him from the bowels of his office, which (after he washed up of course), brought all the other therapists over, which, of course, had all the other patients staring, just waiting for their therapists to come back.....

The doctor asked me to raise my arm and said, "now push against my hand", as he poked my right pec muscle. "See there", he says, "no pec tone." "When I push here there should be pec tone." "Come here, you do it." The therapist comes around and pushes against my raised arm.... " yep, no pec tone." "See", the doctor says, "no pec tone!" "Yeah", the therapist says, "no pec tone!" All the therapists and attendees in the circle shake their heads knowingly, "Man, no pec tone."
Not believing what I'm hearing, I ask, did you say I had SOME pec tone? "NO", says the doctor, " I said you have NO pec tone."

Of course, he didn't take time to explain why that medically happened, based on my shoulder's malfunction. He just told all 4 therapists, 1 doctor attendee, 6 patients, and the 3 at the desk..... "HEY EVERYBODY, GET THIS...THIS GUY HERE HAS NO PEC TONE!!!"

I finished up with that electrical stimulus machine and asked if they could attach it to my brain to erase some bad memories, but apparently I'd have to sign some papers for that.....

As I was leaving, I'm almost sure I heard a lady waiting on therapy whisper to the person next to her, "Hey, isn't that the guy with no pec tone?"

I'm not sure I'm going back.....until I need another heavy dose of humility.

"Before honor is humility."- Proverbs 15:33

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Brothers By Different Mothers

I was 600 miles away from home and alone in my dorm room in Springfield, Missouri.  It was late in the evening and I was exhausted from a thirteen hour car ride.  I remember thinking I had made a huge mistake coming to Evangel College.  As I drifted off to sleep I wondered if I would make it through my first week in that strange place.

The next morning I woke up to the depressing realization that it was really true.  I was alone in a foreign place that was very different from my home in St. Joe, Michigan.  I shuffled my feet down the hall to the community bathroom.  As I walked in, I was greeted by a friendly guy with a big smile who said, "Hi!  I'm Terry!"  As I introduced myself and shook his hand I knew I had met a friend.  I had no idea that this guy would quickly become my "best friend", not just for college, but for life.

The more I got to know Terry Steen the more I got to know myself.  We shared a common love of sports.  We were teammates on the college baseball team, as well as every intramural sports team that we played  for over the next four years.  We fought together on the basketball court, the football field, the soccer field and the baseball field.  We learned together in the classroom, we served together in Student Government and we learned a lot about life as roommates during our final three years on campus.  We competed against each other in "pick up" games, but even then we were pulling for each other.

Our common interests didn't end with sports.  We both loved music and we were always singing harmony on everything from Gospel to Motown.  We loved to laugh and enjoyed making others laugh.  We emceed the campus variety show and brought the house down.

But the most important thing we shared was a common Christian faith.  We often talked about what it meant to be a follower of Christ.  Terry didn't just talk about his faith, he lived it.  He was (and is) consistent and constant in his faith.  Terry represents the best of what I want to be.

How fortunate am I to have a friend like this?  Well, I never had a brother growing up in St. Joe, Michigan.  I had to travel over 600 miles to meet him.  That happened 38 years ago.  Today we are still best friends.  I can tell him anything, I can trust him with everything and I know he is always in my corner.

Have you been fortunate enough in life to have a friend like that?  If so, you know what I'm talking about.  Let me remind you to never take that relationship for granted. Mutual effort and respect can keep it strong. If you haven't had one, let me encourage you.  It's not too late.  I promise you the effort you put into your friendships will pay unimaginable returns to your joy in life. 

Terry and I live hundreds of miles apart but we talk every week.... and now we are writing this blog together.   This is gonna be a blast because nobody makes me laugh like my brother by a different mother.