Peace and Love to You and Yours

It is that wonderful time of year again when the holiday spirit fills our mind and heart, and gently moves us, for the moment, away from the hectic pace of our lives and the world we experience now. Yes, this year is different given the challenges impacting the world and our lives. Yet, despite this, may we choose to see and live beyond these temporary constraints and enjoy the spirit of this special time. Let us pause and step back for a moment to reflect on the meaning and spirit of the season. Let us remember the joys and happiness it brings that we may again share it with others, while also making it so very special and memorable for those celebrating it for the first time. May our mindset be strongly intentional on making this Holiday Season our best one yet for ourselves, our families and friends and those whom we touch and serve. May we all hear those beautiful words from the song, Believe, from the movie, The Polar Express, sung by Josh Groban: “Believe in what you feel inside, And give your dreams the wings to fly, You have everything you need If you just believe.” Yes, we have everything we need… if we just believe.

The world around us contributes gently to the joy of the season: stores are wonderfully decorated; holiday music streams from videos and iPhones; home decorations appear. Our world is transformed around us to one of festivity and joyful tranquility. It is a time of peace. As Norman Vincent Peale, minister and author, once said, it is as though the holiday season “waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Yes, it is a time of “joy to the world.”

Memories fill us. We remember the joys of our youth and the people who were and are integral parts of our lives and happiness. There is sadness in remembrance of those we loved who are no longer with us. This gentle memory of them, however, is our lasting gift to them, and theirs to us.  It is our way of saying to them: “I love you forever and will never forget you… never.” We embrace those around us and share with each other a very special gift of love. Hamilton Wright Mabie, essayist, captured this wonderful spirit of the season: “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”

Let us enjoy and take great learning from this magnificent and beautiful time. Let us all be embraced in this conspiracy of love. As Eva Logue writes, may you be as a candle which “makes no noise at all, but slowly gives itself away.” May this be your greatest gift to others and yourself – that in quiet reflection, you see with brilliant clarity the happiness and joy in the endless possibilities that life offers to which you will aspire.

May we pause in gratitude for all that we have, for what others have given us – our family, friends, those whom we serve, our God – and remember fervently that ours is the joy of giving, serving and caring. These are our greatest gifts. Let us join together every moment of our lives in a beautiful and magnificent “conspiracy of love.” Life is so very precious. Capture and embrace it with passion, joy, exuberance and love.

May you and yours have a joyous and beautiful Holiday Season, a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and may this New Year be the best yet – for you, your loved ones and the many people whom you touch and serve.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

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On the Joy of Transitions

Maya Angelou writes: “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve its beauty.” It is in the butterfly’s life journey to grow and develop into something more with change being part of that journey. There is more, however, that we learn from the butterfly’s experience. The change the butterfly experiences becomes transformative. Herein lies the learning captured in the words of William Bridges:

“Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation or self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t ‘take’.”

Transition is the full operationalization of change, an internalizing of the change itself, which enables the full value, benefit and effect of the change to be realized. So it is in the great leaders’ life journey, the resilient embracing of change, the change’s realization through transition and the continuing joy of learning and growth that the transitions provide in their development. Willie Stargell, famed baseball player, said: “Life is one big transition.” May your transitions be filled with joy and beauty as that of the butterfly… and more… so much more.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Joys Awaiting Beyond Our Perceived Limits

Great leaders awake each morning filled with joy and wonder of what they will bring to the new day. Never do they wake up for the day to be mediocre… something for which they would simply settle to remain what they are and know. Theirs is a ceaseless and beautiful relentless pursuit to stretch their limits to go beyond the ‘what is’ to the ‘what can be.’  Henry Drummond captures this pursuit writing: “Unless a man undertakes more than he can possibly do, he will never do all that he can.”

Jim Rohn tells great leaders: “The big challenge is to become all that you have the possibility of becoming. You cannot believe what it does to the human spirit to maximize your human potential and stretch yourself to the limit.” This is the excitement and joy of living life to its fullest. It is the joy of creating new possibilities by opening your eyes, mind and heart to new ways of seeing, feeling and understanding. It is rekindling that endless curiosity of youth which gave you the excitement of endless questioning and exploring that created your world. May we unlearn and free ourselves of old limits. There is more… so much more to your becoming all that you ever dreamed you could be. Your best is yet to come… and it will because you choose it to be so.

May you remember the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist.” The choice is in your hands every morning of your magnificent life’s journey of becoming.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Promises

Lou Holtz said: “Don’t promise more that you can deliver, but always deliver more than you promise.” A promise creates expectation, hope and anticipation. It is a verbal commitment to someone with your name behind it. It creates trust in the ears and heart of the recipient who hears an unsaid “because I said I would” which makes the promise a matter of character. Just as the value of words are found in actions, so, also, the truth of promises is found in their fulfillment.

May your promises, to yourself and others, provide a path of commitment to your life’s purpose and meaning, each being a piece of your beautiful life’s mosaic. As a reminder, may you remember Robert Frost’s words: “…. I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” May you enjoy the beauty of each new mile and the value your kept promises continue to add to it. Life is so very good… and the best if yet to come.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Value of Storytelling

John Kotter speaks to the power and importance of stories writing: “Over the years I have become convinced that we learn best – and change – from hearing stories that strike a chord within us…. Those in leadership positions who fail to grasp or use the power of stories risk failure for their companies and for themselves.”

In their uncomplicated clarity and simplicity, stories stimulate, amaze and inspire as they convey their message. In them, concepts and ideas become realities as a visual picture of their meaning is painted in the listener’s mind. The visualization is often enhanced with words that create feelings, emotions and sentiments. They tell the listener that the idea was ‘lived’ and has value. Stories have the magic of going beyond the ears and into the heart. As Tom Asacker wrote: “Facts don’t persuade, feelings do. And stories are the best way to get at those feelings.”

Be that great storyteller described by Maria Popova: “A great storyteller dances up the ladder of understanding, from information to knowledge to wisdom… who helps us interpret information, integrate it with our existing knowledge, and transmute that into wisdom.” May the magic of your storytelling leave seeds of possibilities to be explored, dreams to be dreamed and life to be lived… and changed. Life is so very good.

Have a beautiful day, a magnificent week and a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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Going Up to the Balcony

In his recent blog post, Going Up to the Balcony, Larry Center reminds great leaders of the importance of stepping back amid their myriad of daily challenges that shift their focus to  the problems themselves rather than finding solutions to them. This stepping back is captured in his powerful metaphor of going up to the balcony.

“Going up to the balcony represents a leadership perspective that gives us the ability to look at our issues in a new light. When we leave the orchestra section and climb up to the balcony, we can “look down” on our issues and problems in a new way. We can give ourselves permission to view the big picture. We can place our challenges in the proper perspective. We can view tough situations in light of past experience and future successes. We can more easily forgive ourselves for mistakes and apply the lessons learned from those errors. We can even learn to laugh at our own mistakes in judgment and vow to do better next time. When we are ‘too close to the forest to see the trees,’ we are unable to view the big picture. We become caught in our own emotions. We abandon our best leadership skills and surrender to the feelings of the moment.”

He concludes saying: “The next time you find yourself trapped in a negative spin cycle, so close to a problem that you cannot reason calmly and rationally, so frustrated that you are having difficulty engaging in productive thinking, pause. Give yourself a push to climb those stairs to your virtual balcony. Look down on your life, on your job, on your leadership.  Appreciate all the good things you have achieved.”

May you remember always that your balcony is there for you, your place to find moments of quiet reflection that reground you. As an unknown author wrote: “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” Cherish your times on your balcony. Let them open your ears and eyes that you further grow and learn and increase the richness, value and purpose of your magnificent life’s journey.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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This Is Water

In his Commencement Speech to the Kenyon College Class of 2005, David Foster Wallace reminds great leaders of the negative impact that their current world view may be having on seeing new possibilities. With hectic and sometimes frenetic schedules, new opportunities and questions may be subject to the brain defaulting into an auto-response mode. The impact of this may result in missing an opportunity to change the world.  Wallace states that “the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.”  He began his address with the story of two young fish swimming together.

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’  And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’”

His message is beautifully simple and profound: life is about continuous learning. It is an “awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: ‘This is water.’ ‘This is water.’” Always stand back for a moment and seek to see through different eyes.

May you heighten and deepen your awareness of yourself, life and those whom you touch and serve that may you find and see wonders beyond your wildest dreams. Find inspiration in the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Remind yourself often by saying: “This is water.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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One Moment in Time… the Answers Are All Up to You

Maya Angelou said: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” In her beautiful song, One Moment in Time, Dana Winner captures the great leaders’ ceaseless and joyous pursuit of making each moment an opportunity to make their dreams come true.

Each day I live I want to be
A day to give the best of me
I’m only one, but not alone,
My finest day Is yet unknown

I broke my heart for every gain
To taste the sweet I faced the pain
I rise and fall Yet through it all
This much remains…

I want one moment in time when I’m more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away, and the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time when I’m racing with destiny,
Then in that one moment in time I will feel, I will feel eternity

I’ve lived to be the very best
I want it all, no time for less
I’ve laid my plans, now lay the chance
Here in my hands…

Give me one moment in time when I’m more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away and the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time when I’m racing with destiny
Then in that one moment in time I will feel, I will feel eternity.

Your finest day is yet unknown. Live to be your very best. You are only one, yet you are not alone. May you make every moment in time a moment when you are more than you dreamed you could be… and more… so much more. Your best moments are yet to come. May you always remember… the answers are all up to you.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The Gift of a Magical Burst

Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand as well”, wrote Jack London. So it is in the lives of great leaders with its ups and downs, moments of challenge which can drain the spirit. Yet, of those times, Albert Schweitzer wrote: “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those who rekindle the human spirit.”

What beautiful joy and opportunity you hold in your hands each day, in each moment. May you be that special person who rekindles the human spirit and inner fire in the lives of others. An unknown author wrote: “There are only four words that mean so much more than I love you, and those words are I’m here for you.” May your life be filled with unconditional and selfless servant leadership. With words unsaid, may those whom you serve on your magnificent journey always hear and feel you saying: I am here for youalways. And in each encounter, your precious gift may change a life forever.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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You Don’t Get Paid for the Hour; You Get Paid for the Value You Bring to the Hour

William Shakespeare wrote that nothing is “good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” What we see in our mind’s eye is what we get.  We are the master or the slave of our thoughts.  We can choose to live a life of mediocrity, or we can dare to live our wildest dreams.  Jim Rohn cautions: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you?  Not much.”

The choice lies in our attitude – how we choose to see life at any given moment.  Since events have no values in themselves but get their value from our perceptions of them, we can choose to find in them either burden or magnificent opportunity, desolation or cheerful hope, discouragement or great inspiration.  These choices will come from our core values, and not from emotions or feelings that change in a moment.

The implications of choosing a positive attitude are profound on our life, the results we accomplish and on our relationships.  It is not the time we spend doing something that is the measure. It is the contribution and impact we make in what we do. As Rohn wisely counsels: “You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” Be the master of your thoughts and fill your mind with visions of greatness: what you will be and what you will achieve.  Fill your week with extraordinary value.  Change the world and have a joyous, exciting and fun time doing it!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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