Saturday, March 29, 2008


The last of human freedoms - the ability to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances. Viktor E. Frankle

It is true that we cannot control what happens to us. We cannot control what other people think say or do. We cannot always control if some bad situation occurs. We can be stricken with ill health, our financial situations can change very quickly, our jobs can be changed or lost, long time friends or even loved ones can change their feelings for us. We cannot always control what happens, but, as Dr.Frankle states, we can control how we respond to what happens.

Bad things happen all the time. However, some people seem to be able to handle bad situations better than other people. Why is this? The only logical answer is the ability to choose a response. We all have this ability to choose. I am not the greatest at this. I often fail to choose the best response, but as I am learning that I can choose how I respond, I am learning to control the after effects of a situation. More importantly, I am learning that I can control my attitude well before an events happens. I can actually choose to control my response by controlling my attitude.

People can allow themselves to fall into a negative pattern of thinking that can generate a negative response to just about any situation or circumstance. They can just as easily develop a positive outlook. I guess it comes down to the old saying of seeing the glass as half full or half empty. The fascinating thing is that it is all a war of the mind. We have the ability to choose our thoughts and ultimately how we respond to any given circumstance. The more I learn this the more I realize that this is a major success principle.

It is so simple and yet so hard. We can often be hard wired to have negative thoughts. Changing our way of thinking can be difficult. However, the payoff can be well worth it. It can take courage and hard work to change the way we think. Maya Angelou says that "Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage." If we have the courage to change the way we think about our circumstances we can have the courage to change our lives. We often use the example of famous people and use quotes from the famous. But we can find inspiration to change or to develop our courage by watching those close to us. We all know people who seem to handle bad things with great courage and conviction.

We can all change our outlook and attitude. we can learn to control our response to our circumstances. It comes from controlling the way we allow ourselves to think. We can learn from the examples of others. We can learn from our associations. The important thing is that we learn to control the way we view our circumstances. We can learn that failure is not an event or a set of circumstances. Failure is not determined by what other people think, say, or do. The only failure is in our thinking and in our response. In other words, only we can determine if we have failed in a given situation and Only we can determine how we will respond.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip. You don't have to actually answer the questions, just read the list straight through. You'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do? The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are not second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

The people that have the biggest impact on our lives do not necessarily have a lot of credentials, have not always won a lot of awards, or been heralded by the rest of the world. The people that usually have the biggest impact on our lives are the everyday heroes that are present and take a meaningful and active role in our life. Why not take a little time to give them an award for their actions. You may not be able to give them a prestigious award like those mentioned above, but you can give them your appreciation. Please take time to show someone important in your life some appreciation today. It will be well worth you time and effort.

Friday, March 21, 2008


"Discover your passion and decide to follow it no matter what" Bobbi DePorter in Quantum Business: Achieving Success Through Quantum Learning.
I have often wondered what makes people successful. I have studied at length the elements of success. I wanted to know what made people or organizations the best.
Being good is not enough. I wanted to know what it is that people and organizations possess that make them the leaders in their chosen endeavors. I am not interested in getting to the top. I want to do things that make a difference. I don’t want it to be a one time thing or a sometimes thing. I want to make a difference all the time and want to be the best at making a difference. I learned allot of things in my pursuit of being the best. Here are a few of the lessons I have learned:
FAILURE is inevitable. People spend a great deal of time and energy trying to avoid the inevitable. Everyone fails. The difference is that the truly great ones not only learn from failure they embrace it. In reality it is only a word, but it carries with it a great deal of pain, frustration and anxiety. The fear of failure has paralyzed so many dreams and so much potential through the years that it has become one of the most dreaded forces on earth. Only those that learn to harness failure and make it work for them can truly achieve great things. I have learned “Failure is not negative. It is a teacher. It molds, refines, and polishes you so that one day your light will shine for all to see. It isn't the failure you experience that will determine your destiny, but your next step and then the next that will tell the story of your life.” Tim Connor

SELFISHNESS is the root of all failure. I have never met a selfish person that is truly successful. Sure enough, I have met selfish people that have money and material possessions. I have not met a selfish person that has contentment and allot of friends. I have met many very talented people that could not reach their potential due to selfishness. I have seen very promising businesses fail due to greed. I have seen families broken and seen children suffer due to the effects of selfishness. I have seen people with a great deal of intelligence squander their talents and dreams for selfish interest and instant pleasures. I have seen parents reject their children for instant gratification. I have seen athletes ruin careers for the pursuit selfish gains. I have seen children turn against their parents for the lure of selfish pleasures. I have come to believe that there is no good in selfish desires. However, I have learned that we all have them and we all fall victim to these desires many times.

ANGER is an emotion that destroys more people, relationships and businesses than all the illness in the world. People seem to be so angry all the time. It seems as if people walk around with a chip on their shoulders all the time. This is probably a by-product of selfishness. Someone once told me that the emotions of fear, shame, and anger are the driving forces of human behavior. The more I think and study on that, the more I believe it. I think the ones that learn how to make these emotions work for them are the ones that are successful. Unfortunately, most of us struggle through life falling victim to these emotions and never truly learn how to make them work for us.

BELONGING, ACHIEVEMENT AND RECOGNITION are vital to people. When I look at successful people and organizations I find they have an uncanny ability to make people feel as though they are special. Every successful aspect of society does this on some level. It may sound strange to say that gangs are successful. However, in my work with juvenile delinquents, I find that this is the biggest draw that gangs have. They can make what the rest of society deems as misfits and failures feel a very strong sense of belonging, achievement and recognition. They do it so well that the rest of society cannot stop the enterprise of gangs. Indeed they have affected our society in many ways.

Successful ball teams and businesses do the same. They have a great talent for making people feel as though they belong and have achieved. They are recognized for being someone special. I have found these things to be true. I thought that maybe these things mixed in with some education and some hard work would equal the success I yearned for. I found out that this is not enough. I learned this lesson from a man that I looked to as a mentor. My mentors name is BOOKER NOE (no relation) Booker was a good friend of mine. He recently passed away. Booker was the Master Distiller for Jim Beam for 50 years. During his tenure with the business he built it into the most successful bourbon distillery in the world. I was fascinated with Booker the very first time I met him. He seemed to have a special quality about him. I found out as time went by that everyone that ever met him felt the same way. I had the privilege of sitting with Booker and his wife Annis in their kitchen on several occasions. During these visits Booker and his wife would share drinks of his signature bourbon with me. I always thought that to be a special event. I compared that to being able to sing a song with Elvis. I thought it was great. However, this was never the real treat. The real treat for me was the lessons Booker taught me. He taught many lessons in business. I was a sponge for the stories he would tell of how he ran the distillery and the different trials he faced in his career. I loved to hear him talk about making his bourbon, Bookers True Barrel Bourbon. He told stories of how he learned the business from his grandfather, Jim Beam. He told me tidbits of how bourbon is made and aged and all sorts of things about the industry. I would always ask questions.
Quite frankly, I think I annoyed him and his wife a great deal. I would ask them over and over what is the most important thing in business. He told me allot of things. I hung on every word. It turned out to be more of what he showed me than what he told me.

PASSION is defined as having a great deal of emotion or feeling. That is the one thing he always had. He was not the most educated distiller in the business. What he did have more than any others was passion. He had a passion for people and passion for his product. Those two things alone I think made him who he was and allowed him to achieve the great things he did. He was very generous and genuine. He had a very big heart and helped innumerable people that were less fortunate. He loved his vocation and wanted to give people the very best. He was thankful for those that helped and mentored him. He always treated others with respect, regardless of their social standing. He did everything with great feeling and passion.

I have learned that passion for people and for your product is the most important ingredient for success. I don’t think it can be a passion for success, money or material gain. I believe it has to be a passion for people and your product. I believe that what the heart desires it finds. If it desires selfish gains, it will find selfish rewards. If it seeks anger, it will find angry rewards. If it seeks to help others and provide the best for them, it will find success.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Art of Listening

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.
Karl A. Menninger

As this quote brings out there is a magic in listening. Just think about the times that you have been in the presence of a powerful listener. How did it make you feel? Validated, powerful, understood, recognized, important, worthy? Not a bad list. That is because one of the greatest human needs is to be understood. We want people to listen us. We want to be heard. We all have a desire to feel important and to feel as though we are contributing. The one sure way to get this feelimg is to be listened to.

People do not always have to get exactly what they want. People will often compromise once they feel that they have been listened to. In most situations that is truly what people are looking for to begin with. They simply want their point of view to be considered. Most arguments are the result of two people thinking about what they are going to say and not considering what is being said by the other person.

Trevor Gay , author and successful business coach, says "if you truly want power then you have to give it away." The best way to give power to someone is to listen to them and to genuinely make them feel as though they have been heard. The best tools that a leader has is attached to both sides of their head. Use the tool of listening frequently and you can become more powerful in all your interactions. Listening is an art form and a skill. Like any other skill it takes practice. The more you practice, the better you get. I think the better you get at listening the better you become as a manager, leader, and all around person. I have a lot practice ahead of me, but the end result will be well worth the effort.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out. Anton Chekhov

I think this is a neat quote. The reason I like it is because I believe that great things are accomplished with persistence. It is the little things that make the difference in life. It is rarely one big event in life that makes us or breaks us. It is our daily habits that make the difference. The philosopher Plutarch said it well when he stated "Character is simply habit long continued." It is what we do everyday that defines who we are.

I like to study successful people. I am interested in knowing what it is that separates the successful from the crowd. I have found that it is rarely one big event. It is most often persistence and a dedication to doing little things consistently and doing them well that makes the difference. Consider Thomas Edison for example. He is widely regarded as a genius and a great inventor. Both of these are correct, but more importantly, he had the ability to do tedious work over and over. He did this tedious work until he achieved the outcome he was seeking. He had a unique ability to see failure in a different light. He viewed failure as an opportunity and as experience gained. He patiently conducted thousands of experiments until he finally found his ultimate success. That is how he invented the incandescent light bulb. He used this same system of patience and persistence to help invent hundreds of other useful products. Most importantly, when he faced difficult times, such as when his laboratory went up in flames and he lost everything, he viewed it as an opportunity rather than a career ending tragedy. It was his ability to recognize that one big event does not make you or break you that made the difference. He continued to be persistent and rebuilt his laboratory and made numerous contributions to science, even though, he was getting advanced in age. He continued on when most people would have given up.

Great strength and accomplishment is rarely born of genius. It does not hurt to be well above the curve in some sort of talent or intellect. However, genius is most often created by mastering the little things. This mastery is accomplished by our habits. I found this saying on habits that I really like. I don't know who wrote it, but it really tells the story.

"I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great men. And, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great.Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine. Plus, the intelligence of a man. You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin; it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will put the world at your feet. Be easy with me, and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am HABIT!"

Our destiny is not determined by fate. It is determined by our habits. We will do well to take inventory of our habits. What are we doing on a daily basis that is leading us towards our goals. More importantly, what are we doing that may be counter to our goals. It is the little adjustments that can make the most difference.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

5 Qualities of a Leader

I have been studying leadership for quite some time now. I have been fortunate enough to meet some very good leaders. I have listened and learned from them and learned their theories and styles. I have been fortunate enough to become acquainted with experienced industry leaders and with new and upcoming leaders. Through the course of all this I have been able to distill down the many lessons I have learned and I have come up with what I believe is a formula for success. I see certain qualities in experienced leaders and I see ideas in the new and upcoming leaders that seem to be constant. These qualities are evident in historical leaders as well. Leaders such as Lincoln, Wilberforce, Gandhi, Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, and others. I also see these qualities in modern day achievers and most importantly I see these qualities in the everyday achievers. I have narrowed it down to 5 common qualities and they are as follows
  1. Successful people never let circumstances dictate the outcome. Successful people learn to respond to their circumstances. They know that they cannot always control what happens, but they can control how they respond to what happens.
  2. Successful people are persistent. They have their big idea and they stick with it.
  3. Successful people take a realistic inventory of their talents and abilities. They recognize their personal strengths and weaknesses. They play to their own strengths and overcome their weaknesses by capitalizing on the strengths of others.
  4. Successful people are resilient. They recognize that failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. They do not fear failure they embrace it. They see every failure as a step closer to the realization of their dreams. They become masters of overcoming obstacles and staying focused on a positive outcome.
  5. Successful people have passion. They are faithful and they pursue their dreams with a constant vigor and they love deeply. They do not fear rejection and loss as much as they fear living without a purpose.

I know that there is much more to being a leader, but I have found these 5 qualities to be constant in the successful people that I have met and studied. I will be writing a lot on these 5 qualities over the coming months. I look forward to creating dialogue and getting some feedback. until then take care and keep learning and growing.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Rulers of Destiny

The following is some text taken from An Iron Will by Orison Swett Marden.

There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, Can circumvent, or hinder, or control the firm resolve of a determined soul. Gifts count for nothing; will alone is great; all things give way before it soon or late. What obstacle can stay the mighty force Of the sea-seeking river in its course, or cause the ascending orb of day to wait? Each well-born soul must win what it deserves. Let the fool prate of luck. The fortunate is he whose earnest purpose never swerves, whose slightest action or inaction serves the one great aim.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Strength of Willpower

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. Winston Churchill.

My Friend Mike Gardner recently sent me a copy of "Courage Under Fire" This is the story of James Bond Stockdale's experience in a prisoner of war camp in Viet Nam. The story chronicles the extreme conditions that the prisoners had to endure while held in captivity. The story talks about how the prisoners were able to establish a bond with one another and develop a code of unity and strength that allowed them to overcome very harsh conditions and often brutal treatment. More importantly, it is a story of the human spirit and the strength of human willpower. Willpower is the ability to exert one's will, or thoughts, over one's actions. "Courage Under Fire" showed me that man has the ability to tap into this willpower and overcome some incredible obstacles.

I don't think that I will ever be able to truly understand how Jim Stockdale and his fellow prisoners were able to endure their circumstances. What they were able to think about to give them the courage and strength to overcome their circumstances had to be very powerful. I cannot even begin to imagine their predicament and their sheer resolve to survive. The conditions were so deplorable that Jim Stockdale goes on to explain that it was impossible to explain the ordeal to people because they could not even ask questions that were pertinent.

They faced failure on countless occasions. Failure meant far more to them than it does for us. It meant their very lives. The worst part for them was it meant being made to feel like a traitor and experiencing shame. These men fought a war of the mind and they had to revisit their resolve countless times. Over and over they were beaten and tortured to the point of breaking this resolve. On several occasions they became depressed, despondent, felt irrelevant, suffered from extreme feelings of shame, loneliness, and emotions that I am sure most of us never encounter. Still yet, they survived. I am not sure how, but much of it goes back to the willpower of the men that shared that horrendous experience.

Most of us will never be exposed to that kind of trial. However, we will face times in our lives when we have to overcome obstacles. Some more severe than others. When those times come we can draw strength and inspiration from stories such as "Courage under Fire". Knowing that most of the trials I will face in life pale in comparison to Mr. Stockdales strengthens me. It allows me to know that I can face the failures I have experienced with renewed enthusiasm. I can go from failure to failure and realize that I have abilities far greater than I know. It is a matter of how I allow myself to think. Courage under Fire does not make me think that I can control my environment or my circumstances. It does make me realize that I can control my response to those circumstances.

I will never have the kind of strength that Jim Stockdale had, but I can have the strength to face my problems. If you get a chance to read Courage Under Fire I think you will come to the same conclusion. Even though his triumph over his captors is an incredible feat, I don't think it is Jim Stockdale's greatest accomplishment. I think Jim Stockdale's greatest accomplishment is in the message his victory presents. That message is one of hope.The hope that we can prevail in our darkest of times. The hope that we can choose our response in a given situation. The hope that we can endure difficult times and endure those times with a sense of renewed enthusiasm.

The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.