Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tales From The Crypt: Money Is Everything

Before you go to work even one more day, you had better read this and make sure you are getting yours. All over the world, we are seeing the exponential growth of big business, and the associated opportunities being created for 'the little guy'. Yes, my friends, the streets are truly paved with gold these days. Whether it's the oil and gas or construction business in Calgary, Real Estate and property development in Vancouver, telecommunications in Toronto, tourism expansion across Canada and the United States, or any business in Dubai, business is booming! So where do we start to see why this blog has a sarcastic title?

Simple. In the interest of treating jobs or careers as commodities to be traded up once the getting is good, we are killing 'the little guy'; not giving him opportunity. By chasing the almighty dollar, and recruiting based on this sole purpose...

Restaurants in Calgary are closing because they cannot afford to a) pay or hire the right staff and b) remain open with staff and charge reasonable prices.

Gas stations are instituting rotational closures as they do not have enough staff who want to work. This job is seen as 'beneath them'.

Other industries have to raise their salaries in order to remain competitive. Then they raise prices. Welcome to the inflationary spiral. You get a 10% raise to fight 15% inflation.

Young people are graduating university, college, and even high school with unrealistic expectations of what they should earn and there is a huge diconnect with the work they feel needs to get done to deserve said inflated salary. Simple end result: we are creating a culture of spoiled gimme gimme babies who want but won't work, and we are driving inflation, unemployment, and homelessness through the roof.

But make sure you get yours. Don't settle for a career you are passionate about or an opportunity to help people: make sure your job is going to pay you enough to afford that boat you never get a chance to use because you'll be working too much.

Make sure your car is nicer than your neighbors, and that you beat him or her hands down with your house and the art inside it too- but don't bother getting to know them or make friends, because everyone else is messed and it's not you.

Next, tell your old boss to fuck off because they obviously don't get it. If they challenge your growth, support you, and ask how your day was, but don't pay you enough, they're wrong and you should have the world coming to you.

You know what else, you've got bills of your own and you're busy- screw those charities everyone is trying to get you to donate to. Focus on getting yours, make more money, buy more shit, and then everything will be better.

Who says you can't buy happiness? Look at how miserable poor people are. Get Yours.

One last thing. If you found the sarcasm and agreed and beleive that self fulfillment, helping others, and leading a happy, rewarding life everyday are important- rock on and I hope you have a lot of kids and pass on those exact ideals.

If you read this and said "yeah, I AM owed this and that, when is my break?" you have again missed the point. Getting people to subscribe to negativity is like agreeing that Elizabeth Hurley is attractive. Get an original thought. Be different and inspire or shut up. Go spread your negativity and selfishness elsewhere, we're all stocked up on this side of the fence.

If you agree that money is everything it's because YOU'VE GOT NOTHING.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Step Out of Your World

In the first snowy week of the year, it was another reminder on how selfish human beings of this world have become. Let me explain.

I was driving home from work the other day and as I approached the only street to my residence I realized that it was backed up quite some ways. As I waited patiently, I listened to the disgruntled low-patient individuals’ blare their horns from the frustration at the unknown reasoned wait. Slowly, the vehicles before me began to creep down the road while still honking their horns. As the traffic progressed forward, I began to realize that the cause of this stall in traffic flow was due to a car that had been driving up the road and got stuck in the surrounding ice and snow. One by one vehicles swerved around a man who was attempting to push his car out from the snow by himself. If anyone was actually thinking to themselves (and not about themselves) it would be apparent that it isn't easy to push your car out of the snow by yourself with no one in the driver seat...and honking your horns while watching him do it, is not going to help matters!

So, without hesitation I pulled over to the side of the road and offered my assistance in resolving his problem. For about 10 minutes the two of us struggled to try and free his car. In the end, the two of us could not free his car from the slippery slope, however, not once would I have second guessed my decision or thought of it as a waste of time. Taking the 10 minutes to try and get his vehicle removed was the least that I could do. But those ten minutes were a disturbing ten minutes. Not because we failed to get his car removed from the bank of snow but because it was obvious how self-centered people are these days. To have to listen to people honk their horns (purely sparked by their own annoyance) at the reduced traffic speeds was pathetic. Not to mention that not a single person of the 20 cars that I drove beside/in front of/behind took a couple minutes out of their day to help someone in an uncontrollable situation. In case you are unaware, it is not his fault that his car was stuck in the snow!

That said,

It is not about reducing your frustration when traffic gets backed up.
It is not about putting your life on hold to help anyone and everyone.
It is not about being a hero and doing it for recognition.
And it is definitely not just about YOU!

It is about thinking and acting outside of your own world…because you just never know when you are going to be the next one that is stuck in the snow and is looking for a helping hand.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Taking It For Granted

Taking It For Granted

It really is amazing how the world has a way of making you remember that your life isn’t the centre of the universe. We are reminded how our life is really quite insignificant and that what we do doesn’t really matter a whole heck of lot in the grand scheme of things.

Sure, we talk of leaving a legacy and making the most of your time on this planet but on a day to day basis it doesn’t really matter what you do or don’t do. There is a lesson here that isn’t meant to sound harsh or depressing but rather insightful.

Most will read the statement ‘it doesn’t really matter’ and bring their own drama and baggage to bear on these simple words. There will be many who get disturbed and many who feel powerless because they feel these words mean that they don’t matter or that nobody cares. But there are a few great people, people that understand their own great power that will actually lift the edges of their lips and just grin because that is the secret.

It doesn’t really matter.

No baggage. No drama. No problems.

Power is in understanding that your successes are just things that happened just the same as the never ending failures that the world is constantly reminded of. None of them really matter. You are who you are and the bigger picture is that you are still alive today to do pursue a great life and the passion inside you. You are here to create endless possibilities and what you have done or haven’t done…doesn’t really matter.

You can create power through understanding this and you can lose power by thinking your past moves define you. Or you can succumb to believing you don’t control your next move. If people perceive you a certain way, that is generally their baggage coming to haunt them. They see you how they want to see you. It needn’t affect you because this second, this very second, you hold the ability to be who you want to be. You have the power.

Sometimes it just takes a reminder from a world that is so big and so incredible. Last night in a fairly bad snow storm we had a power outage that lasted about eighteen hours. Without any of the creature comforts that I am used to our family had to abort its normal schedule and just deal with the basics of warmth and food. In this moment I was reminded that what I was doing at the bank, for Christmas presents and at work really didn’t matter.

I was reminded of my insignificance and it gave me great hope because it also reminded me that I have the power to start fresh every single day if I so choose. I have the power to strive for the stars because at the end of it all whether I succeed or fail won’t really matter.

While I am here I might as well enjoy every second and not waste any on the baggage. Why don’t you join me; after all, to me it doesn’t really matter how you do.

But it might to you……..

Monday, November 27, 2006

Got your daily’s yet?

On the plane trip home from out east, I invested some brain power into 5 dailies that bothering me.

1. Preaching vs. marketing. When people hear messages they like, it’s called marketing. When people hear messages they are uncomfortable with… it’s called “preaching”? Newsflash, they are one in the same. We are preached/marketed to over 10000 times / day by organizations and seem to heard along [aka: buy what they sell]. To clarify: Swimupstream wants you to buy what we are selling. #1, the fact you an make a difference, #2 the fact you need to think about ramifications of not making a difference & #3 the support you have with like minded people to make that difference. Segue…

2. The weather. How we are all thinking the recent weather patterns (worldwide) are kind of ‘cool’ without understanding there will be serious, deep, long term repercussions from record setting rain, heat, drought, etc. Maybe it’s different because I am sitting with my 5 & 6 year old wondering what their world is going to be like in 20 years, given how fast it’s changed in the last 20. Not apocalyptic thinking, but thinking. I’m going to dig up the centre for disease controls stats on obesity and the centre of forestry stats on consumption and show them to you on Friday in a pictorial so you can really ‘talk about the weather’. Segue…

3. World War 3. Let’s stop kidding ourselves into thinking a) its not around the corner and b) it isn’t going to affect us. I watched an expose done by the BBC and was deeply disturbed by how much HATE is being generated by certain factions in the middle east towards the USA. When I say HATE, allow me assure you it went beyond your arch high school enemy. When a 76 year old woman is strapping explosives on herself to blow people up, I think we need to pay attention. We are teetering on one more major catastrophe and it doesn’t take a Rhodes scholar to understand it’s a matter of time. That’s unnerving. Segue…

4. The ridiculously poor levels of 'leadership' we stand behind. Worse than that is the sad reality that a) straight up / honest leadership would never last [because people can’t really handle the truths] and b) the fact most appointments exist because of m.o.n.e.y. Segue…

5. Money has evolved to be the root of many evils. People will sacrifice everything from their bodies, to their children, to their countries to their souls in the name of money. Please tell me why a house costs over ½ million dollars? Please tell me why a pair of jeans cost $400? Please tell me why a fancy meal with a bottle of crushed grapes costs $500. Food, water & shelter… Maslow’s basic heirarchy of needs… at a price few can afford.

Yet every day we market the weather while ignoring the global landscape being decimated by "leadership" who (more often than not) are driving an agenda dictated by money.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Unintended Left Turn

I was at the Special Olympics, watching the athletes compete, when I saw the most amazing thing. It was the 100 yard dash, and the athletes were lined up ready for the gun to sound; ready to let their talents be seen by all the people in attendance. The runners got off to a great start, and within 15 yards one athlete had taken a large lead that looked insurmountable. As the finish line approached, the lead about 20 yards, the athlete took a left turn with the track and just kept going. The problem was that the finish was on the straight away. He finished last, and his gold medal was lost. My eyes were glued to this athlete as I waited to see his response to what I assumed to be a major disappointment. You know what this athlete did? He gave a hug to the winner, to all the other athletes for that matter, and, with a huge smile on his face, found his parents and hugged them as well. He had done it, he had finished the race.

A few months after this event I went to my niece’s swim race. She was four years old, and swimming in a fundraiser where she had 30 minutes to swim as many laps as she could. She started off at an easy pace and just kept going. 10 minutes in I expected her to slow down and take some time hanging onto the lane lines or at the edge of the pool. This did not happen, she just kept going. Her pace never slowed as she took stroke after stroke for the entire half hour. Thirty minutes ended and she had finished 36 laps: a half-mile. As she got out of the pool, she had a huge smile on her face. She hugged her coach, and then found her parents and gave them a hug as well. When she came up to me I asked, “Taylor, how did you swim so many laps?” Her response was simple, “Uncle Scotty, I just love swimming laps.”

This reaffirmed what I, and everyone else I know, has forgotten: exercise and activity are fun, they are available for our enjoyment, and we have ruined the simple pleasures of running and swimming by making them a part of our schedule.

We have become a society of schedules; our lives, and how we live them, are written into Blackberries. From work to play, everything is planned according to timelines. We are sucking the fun out of life by scheduling each and every activity instead of allowing for spontaneous action. What is intended to relieve us from stress, refresh our minds and bodies, has become no different than a meeting planned after lunch and before a proposal deadline; another one of the many segments that make up our day before we can sleep, only to wake up and do it all over again.

Take a moment to look at your current physical goals. How are you going to achieve them? I’ll bet that you have a schedule to run X amount of miles on Y day so that you can successfully accomplish your destination goal. This is beneficial for completing what you intend to accomplish, but not essential. What you are doing is taking an act that is intended to bring joy into your life, and making it a chore. That five mile run is no longer something that you want to get out and do, but something that you have to get out and do. The busier we get the more we focus on the have-to-do’s in life instead of the want-to- do’s, which are ultimately what make us happiest.

It is not that we lose the love for what we are doing or why we are training, it is that we lose the focus as to why we began in the first place. We chose our hobbies because they are fun; as we got better we chose more challenging goals, because it was fun to accomplish new things. As the challenges began to increase, the goals got larger and the commitment became more time consuming. Slowly we began to take a ‘want’ and make it into a ‘need’; completely different focus, completely different sense of satisfaction and fun.

Bringing back the fun is simple, act like you are a kid again. Run in the rain, jump in a puddle, take your bike off a jump, climb a tree. Just do what you want to do, do what you love to do, when you want to do it. Swim laps because you love to, and take a wrong turn once in awhile. This is what will refocus and reenergize your efforts while allowing you to veer off schedule for at least one segment of your day.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Failure Breeds Success

Occasionally we hear of success stories where individuals have overcome challenges that were from failures in business ventures, in personal decisions, in sporting events and in the school classroom. While there are few parents at home, teachers in school, coaches in sports, and managers at the office promote failure, there are a small number of people who are wrestling with the opposite problem - trying to get the people that they coach (whether it be their children, athletes or employees) to take risks.

Risk taking and experiencing failure is something that innovation, growth, and re-invention requires. Although everyone fears the word failure, breakthroughs depend on it! Particularly, in today’s competitive world, in which product cycles are shorter than ever and athletes are easy to come by. The reality - if you don't take that step of putting yourself out on a limb you will never be leading the pack.

So, then why is it so difficult for people to put themselves out there? Well, with heightened expectations from parents at home, from management on individual performance, and from coaches on their athletes, it’s easy to see why so many opt to play it safe. Unless failure is actually promoted, people shy away from any chance that failure may occur and that would put them in a position to be looked down upon. People fear failure, but fear the consequences of it even more.

And yes, not all failures are praiseworthy. There are definitely bad ideas, mistakes, and uneducated risks that should not be taken. However, intelligent failures and educated risks should be more than just tolerable, they should be encouraged. Wherever possible, environments when mistakes will not have a life changing impact if the result is not the most ideal outcome, risk taking should be promoted and then encourage the sharing of the mistakes that sometimes follow.

Failing is something that we must accept at the cost of potential reward – and there can be a lot of reward from any risks that we take – both personally and professionally. Ultimately, if we wish to excel above the norm at whatever role we play, taking risks is vital.

So – go explore, experiment, make mistakes, take risks, learn from your actions and then repeat!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Take The Time

When was the last time you were here?

This image is one of many "postcard images" to be enjoyed right in our our Canadian backyard (or anywhere you live, for that matter) if we were only to take the time. The reason most of us don't take the time is because we are caught up in the rat race, and cannot see the forest through the trees, let alone our 8X8 cubicles.

Important to mention that you don't need a cubicle job to be considered part of the rat race, and just because you work in such a typical office setting doesn't mean you subscribe to "rat race mentality". Enter the concept of taking a step back from the grind (taking the time), or stepping outside the routine of the mundane to find your inner (or outer) oasis. The point of today's entry is that if we don't make time, we don't make much of a life for ourselves or our circle of family and friends.

We are all busy. That's not only a fact it is a blatant understatement. We need to be busy to keep up with the ever-changing world of business, culture, and basically- a rapidly evolving society. The thing is, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Someone could invent a way to help anyone live forever, and we will still need to go to work the next day, we will still need to pay the gas bill, teenagers will still disobey their parents, and the sun will probably still come up tomorrow.

The point is, amidst all the rapid change, if we allow ourselves to go on 'autopilot', we coast through life waiting for the next promotion or job offer, waiting for the kids to graduate and move out of the house and start a family of their own so that we can pass along the exact same circle to them. Or we can take the time... to question where we are headed, to question who is along for the ride and who is helping us navigate in our lives (ie are we being inspired or dragged down by our friends?).

Take the time to enjoy the simple things like a sunset or a rose or a tranquil scene like the one above...
to plan exactly what we want out of life and how we will get there...
to comitt to living the life we want vs the life we inherit.

Everyday we have a choice as to whether we will be mediocre or a success. That choice is vested in simply doing those things that help move you forward to your goals. Doing those things you have to everyday helps move your boss(es) to his or her goals, and often does very little to move you to your own. That is, unless you have already taken the time and ensured that your job is one that you are passionate about and that improves your life.If you haven't already, take the time today to examine the state of your relationships, your job, your spiritual life, etc. Define goals for each of these and other areas, and ask if you are moving ahead or not. If you are not, make a change so that you are moving forward.

The only way you will know if you are headed in the right or wrong direction is to take the time and ask. One important to question to ask when you do take the time is whether or not you are running in the rat race. If so, who's fault is it? Hint: It is never your bosses fault.
Take the time- discover you have a choice. And then damn well do something about it!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Power of Education

A major part of being a successful leader is understanding human beings as they react to situations. Literature, whether it is fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, biographies, autobiographies, poems, or blogs, is exactly that: people and situations interacting.

The following is a list of extra readings that will provide you with additional perspectives and thoughts to enhance your growth in becoming a better leader:
  1. Hire Me - maximize your earning potential by understanding what it takes to be a great employee.
  2. Executive Intelligence - the ability to analyze and process information and solve problems.
  3. What it Takes to be #1 - the fundamental leadership qualties essential to success.
  4. The Starbucks Experience - 5 principles for tunring ordinary into extraordinary.
  5. The Rainmaker - how to be one of those who brings tangibles to the business.
  6. Execute - turning talk into actions & 'how to'
  7. Who moved my cheese - challenge and risk taking and their benefit to business.
  8. The E-myth - why small business fail. People who think they are good at their craft are good at business: systems.
  9. First Break All the Rules - how dynamic leadership forms successful business.
  10. The 5 dysfunctions of a team - the role trust plays in your team dynamic.
  11. Straight from the Gut - making smart decisions not emotional decisions & how GE profited billions.
  12. Winning - how to manage the attitude from straight from the gut to bring results.
  13. Blink - how to manage first impressions to give you the competitive edge.
  14. Mind games - addressing the 80% of the 20% of sport.
  15. The Last Season - attributing the demise of the Lakers team to 'me mentality'.
  16. The Tipping Point - how things accelerate at a certain point and become epidemics.
  17. The First 90 Days - 'how to' come into your new career and create a lasting legacy through a variety of tools.
  18. What the CEO Wants You to Know - an insight to the 'details' aspects of running a business, why they are important and how to coach them in order to be successful.
  19. The Trusted Advisor - how the trust based relationship is the ultimate relationship one can have.
  20. The Monk Who sold his Ferarri - how great leadership starts with the leaders
  21. QBQ "The question behind the question" - taking personal accountability of your life
  22. The Power of Now - how to take advantage of the present instead of dwelling on the past or dreaming of the future.
  23. 7 Habits of Highly Successful People - how the key to success relies on goal setting and time management
  24. Tuesday at Morey's - don't sacrifice what you have for what you think you want.
  25. Raving Fans - how to make your customers become your spokespeople through above and beyond service.
  26. What customers want - how to understand what your consumers want and then how to deliver that through your team.
  27. Fish Tales - bringing the attitude every day and differentiating your service through your attitude.
  28. From Good to Great - confronting the brutal facts.
  29. MoneyBall - how judging peoples potential through tangible 'details' can build winning teams.
  30. The Finer Points of Leadership - how to maximize your teams contribution to your organizations success.

An important aspect of Leadership is your knowledge base. However, an imperative aspect of Leadership is your ability to implement and apply that knowledge. Reading can help on both these fronts. So ensure that you take the time to educate yourself.

What You Can Take With You......

What You Can Take With You…..

……if you still have it.

In a rush to collect everything under the sun there is only one thing of value that we should care about but rarely do we cherish its existence.

A mentor of mine told me:

“Once you have taken a pencil you are always a thief; one can be rehabilitated and many people become major assets to society once again but there will always be an un-repairable crack to that person’s integrity.”

I think that ‘boys will be boys’ and young people trying to figure out their place in the world will do foolish things but a huge cause for concern is that the vast majority are now choosing greed and desire over making the right choice of personal respect and dignity. More and more people today are compromising their integrity to get ahead; selling out their friends to make sure they are first in line…..and rarely for anything of any real value.

We are burying our proverbial integrity in the sand and then watching as generations below us are seeing those examples and then emulating them at an all new level. Bullying, early drug addictions and serious youth violence are just a few examples of how this lack of personal respect is showing up in our next generation. How often did you think it was considered acceptable to bring a gun to school?

Where does the premise of integrity get taught? How do we continue to help others understand that all the baggage they bring, all the toys they collect and all the facades they live behind will never be able to go to the grave with them? The only real thing that can go beyond the real world is the very integrity that you live your life with. You are what you stand up for and you are what you represent; not the companies you wear or the kind of people you socialize with but the stripped down version of who you are. Will you steal? Will you use others to get further ahead? Will you stand up for what you believe no matter if those thoughts go against popular belief?

For many people, and this is merely an observation not a judgment, I think it is time to go back to the mirror and look deeply inside. Look at the person that peers back and see all that is there. There isn’t a BMW or a Topaz in that mirror. Your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, children or family are not in that frame. Your wallet doesn’t show up and nor do the things that others see you as. The only thing that peers back should be two inquisitive eyes that ask, “Who am I and what’s next?”

That’s it. Just you and your integrity.

If you think it is okay to sell drugs or date a minor then you aren’t actually looking into your eyes and seeing the person you should be seeing. You are still faking it and for you my friend……

…there is nothing for you to take to the grave. You gave up the only thing you can’t sell or buy; and you actually gave it away for free. You take nothing and the legacy you leave is of your affairs not of yourself.

Choose integrity and self respect. Stand up and be counted. Take something with you and leave something here to be remembered for.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lost your Identity?

The next day, a friend who we respected called us and praised the manner in which we were raising our children: “There are so many theories and how-to books that it can get confusing, but watching the way you empower your children made me realize that’s how we would like to approach it too.” In the case of child rearing, the flattering or incriminating proof of how well you really succeeded comes much later in life. In our case, we had merely observed the way our friends raised their two daughters, and embraced their approach. We are far from being experts in the field of child rearing, but we do follow a couple of simple principles.

1.Children need to be led and directed. We don’t spend time negotiating with and asking the opinions of people who have yet to understand the ways of the world.

2.There are no gray areas or ambiguity with children—they deal with things in black-and-white terms. Once we have told them what our decision is, we give them an appropriate explanation. When our children whine, we try and engage them in solution-based dialogue.

3.Our role as parents is to consistently educate our children in how to survive and thrive in a world dependent on mutual respect.

4.Children have personal identities that need to be respected and nurtured. This means encouraging and supporting their strengths as opposed to forcing them to conform to personal and/or societal standards.

As we sat in the pre-pre-prep school that was designed to ensure our child got a leg-up on the rest of the four-year-olds in terms of his ability to properly enunciate words, we questioned our motives. Shortly thereafter, we pulled him from the program. We decided that subscribing to other people’s standards at such an early age stifled his potential to establish a personal identity.

Personal identity refers to our innate ability to identify our individual likes and dislikes, as well as our wants and needs. In order to embrace our personal identity, we must have the self-confidence to accept the path we have selected, which may not be the path of popular opinion. Our identity is formed early in life from reinforced examples, it directs many of our decision-making processes, and it is intermittently influenced by factors throughout our lives. Yet many of us struggle with this process of learning and self-acceptance. We know of and respect people who are different, or who have made a difference. This respect led us to make the following decisions regarding the way we conduct our own lives.

1. If we choose the easy way as parents and simply do everything for our children, we are taking away our chance to instill the very self-confidence our children need in order to form their personal identities. They will likely always be reliant on someone else to do things for them, and when they need to get on with life in the real world, they will not be adept at coping with challenge. If, as parents, we don’t present a model of individual responsibility, then our children will end up deflecting blame rather than seeking answers from within.

2. The longer each of us neglects to explore and feed our own identity, the greater risk we run of losing sight of it altogether. Eventually, we will arrive at a critical juncture, feeling miserable and forced to take drastic measures to stabilize ourselves. Humans are very adaptable creatures and will find a way to restore homeostasis when necessary.

It has been said that our seemingly endless fascination with reality television and like forms of voyeurism is a direct result of society’s identity decline. People are flocking to be someone else, or to be accepted in the “in crowd,” with the hopes that this will enhance the status of their identity. Those at risk of losing their personal identities speak poorly of others in an attempt to minimize and deflect the realities of their own situations (we are experiencing w-x-y, yet I heard so-and-so was dealing with x-y-z, so really, we aren’t that badly off). But is that really true? With ten years of experience dealing with men and women who are consistently tested at a high level, with their identities firmly linked to being “the best” in the eyes of their peers, we have deduced a couple of things.

1. In a family dynamic defined by a primary wage earner and a primary caregiver, there seems to be a higher incidence of identity loss. This would make sense, as one could not be expected to spend fifteen years (during the second quarter of life) being immersed with one’s children’s issues and still feel satisfied with one’s own personal-identity growth and development. Sooner or later, the caregiver will seek the personal challenges necessary for growth. It is possible that the primary caregiver will become too immersed in the lives of his or her children, and will as a result stifle the children’s ability to develop their own personal identities. This will lead to further disappointment.

2. There seems to be a tipping point at which the primary caregiver or wage earner realizes that the decision to take charge of one’s personal identity stems from one’s own self, and can only be influenced by outside sources to a certain degree. Hence, the individual accepts that in order to serve the needs of everyone, including him- or herself, at the highest level, time must be dedicated to one’s own growth and development. Through the myriad physical challenges and ensuing accomplishments that we have witnessed over the years, we know that this growth is important to each and every one of us. However, we do not suggest that the physical sphere is the only method of renewal. There are many ways to reclaim your personal identity, but all begin with the recognition that you have lost it in the first place. There is nothing right or wrong about such loss, but denying it means ignoring what you have been missing.

As we endorse solution-based thinking, we can finish with some pointers on how to seek, develop or simply renew your personal identity.
1. Ask yourself if you are truly happy where you are. If the answer is yes, continue what you are doing.
2. Write a list of everything you have always wanted to do/enjoy doing.
3. Without an in-your-face attitude, share those things with your family and friends.
4. Research how you could do those things on your own, with your partner, or with your family.
5. Schedule the time to make those things a priority and make sure you gather support for this part of your life.
6. Spend less time doing those things that take you away from doing what you want to do. Don’t waste time justifying your actions.
7. Spend less time with those people who take you away from doing what you want to do (courteously decline).
8. Talk, reflect, and share the stories of what you did and how it you made you feel with those who have supported you.
9. Encourage your family, friends and coworkers to follow the same path of self-fulfillment.
10. Listen attentively to your children, and praise them for following their own path.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tales From The Crypt: The Two Worst Words

There are many bad, disgusting, and offensive words in the English dictionary, but there are really only a few you should never use in conjunction. Words that on their own do little or no damage, but when used together can change the world for the worse. This Tales From The Crypt is to open discussion on the 2 worst words. Other than utilizing God's name in vain, the 2 worst words we can combine are 'what' and 'if'.

"What" is in no way offensive. Neither is "if". But together, their usage in everyday language has potentially catastrophic consequences.
"What if I try and fail?"
"What if I share my ideas and someone steals them?"
"What if I don't buy a gun to protect my family?"
"What if I speak my mind and I'm laughed at?"

"What if?" prevents risk taking, creativity, individuality, and advancement. It promotes the cultural melting-pots that lead to conformity and the rat race. When you ask "what if?" in this context, you are justifying to the world your choice to avoid taking risks by pointing out the potential bad outcomes. You are choosing to bitch out and draw others to your cause; to feel secure in your insecurity.

Stop asking "what if?" in the negative context. Start asking, "Can you imagine if I achieve this?" or start asking risk/ reward or empowerment-based questions such as "what if I avoid taking the risk and I miss my life's calling?"....
  • "What if I ask her out and she says no?" turns to "what if I chicken out and this was my potential wife?". That's an action question, asked by someone who is about to seize an opportunity!
  • "What if I don't buy a gun?" turns to "what if my family is injured because I buy a gun?"
Think of the world today as a result of justifying, rationalizing, and asking "what if I fail?" Think of the world we could have if people asked "what if I could?" and did.

Don't bitch. Enrich.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Time to revisit The Golden Rule

I remember very early in my primary school days being taught the Golden Rule. It is simple:

Treat others as you would like to be treated.

Somehow in the last 25 years, the Golden Rule has been changed. Instead of thinking of others first, it is gratify me, satisfy me – screw everyone else. As a result, our families are being broken apart, our schools are filled with bullying, our workplaces are cold and isolated, our provinces are fighting for equal funding, and our countries are at war. Rather than throw multi-million dollar “awareness” and “support” bandaids at these sores, we need to fix the root problem. How? Let’s start with revisiting The Golden Rule.

What they didn’t tell us in primary school is that The Golden Rule is a fundamental moral principle found in virtually all major religions and cultures. Although it takes on many forms when translated or written in English, it is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights.

"Love your neighbor as yourself." — Moses (ca. 1525-1405 BCE) in the Torah, Leviticus 19:18

"What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others." — Confucius (ca. 551–479 BCE)

"What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man." — Hillel (ca. 50 BCE-10 CE)

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." — Jesus (ca. 5 BCE—33 CE) in the Gospels, Luke 6:31; Luke 10:27 (affirming of Moses)— Matthew 7:12

"Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you." — Muhammad (c. 571 – 632 CE) in The Farewell Sermon.

"This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you. " — Mahabharata 5:1517

"Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. " — Udana-Varga 5,1

"No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." — Sunnah. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 13

Let’s start fixing our families, our schools, our workplaces, our provinces and our world. But let’s start with the basics – the foundation - let’s start by putting ourselves in other people’s shoes. Let’s start with the Golden Rule.

Friday, November 17, 2006

DON'T..... be "the one".

A few weeks back we sent a simple communication to customers randomly thanking them for remaining loyal to our business. One would think such a gesture would be embraced positively and by-in-large, it was. Raving fans and great people will do that. Super rewarding feedback.

....and then there’sthe one’.

Ya... you sure are special,
Can't wait to hear from you,
Know its comming

You know….

1. That one person in the crowd who seeks any inkling of opportunity to be heard.
2. That one person who lay’s on the horn when you have accidentally passed through the yellow. 3. That one person who is all over you when you have made an honest mistake & won’t let it go.
4. That one person who’s gonna sue everyone bcs they spilled hot coffee in their laps while driving and 'didn’t realize it was hot'.
5. That one person at the hockey game drunk yelling profanities as you sit there with your kids.
6. That one person who plugs themselves into you every day and tries to sap the very life from you for their own personal charge.
7. That one person who is so miserable in their own situation, they can’t bear to think there is positive hope in the rest of the world.
8. That one person who shows up at school and tries to fight their asshole kids battles for them
9. That one person who’s very sniveling, whining, loud, rude, me, arrogant negative attitude makes the hair on the rest of our necks stand out.
10. That one person who jumps on the reply and says ‘don’t send me this shit, I am not interested in it’ and nothing's ever good enough.

One person… [and you know exactly who you are: 1-10], advice from the “others”.

Shut the fuck up. will get a chance to speak
2. you will make it through the interstection
3. nobody's perfect
4. coffee is hot, wet floors are slippery, accidents are 'accidents'
5. ref's dont' change the call, players don't play better bcs you swear.
6. no hookups here, get your own power.
7. there are tons of happy people on the planet. deal.
8. your kid likely learned to behave like a loser from from you.
9. contrary to what you think, we don't want to hear from you.
10. don't let that UNSUBSCRIBE option... fool your dumb ass.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Would you like a bagel instead?

Today's story is a story about choice, empowerment, personal accountability, leadership, service, and making the world a better place through the trickle down effect of our actions. And it started with Lynnette, a hero of the service industry who is making a local coffee shop better by the day.

I was in a rush this morning, and as such stopped off at a different coffee shop than the one I am used to. I ordered a breakfast sandwich on an English muffin, and after waiting about 3 minutes for my breakfast, I was told "we are just waiting for the buns... it will be about another 4 minutes." Now I had already paid, and I was in a rush. Just when I was about to tell her "forget it, give me a refund", or "why couldn't you tell me that before?" or "the service here sucks".... Lynnette pipes up with "would you like your breakfast on a bagel instead?".

My attitude turned from anger to inspired in 0.5 seconds. Lynnette had a choice to blame the system, her manager, her colleagues, whoever did not order enough buns, or prep enough materials for the day, etc etc etc. Lynnette owned the situation, offered options, and saved her company hundreds of dollars. Instead of writing off this popular chain of coffee shops, I was elevated by Lynnette's quick thinking, service-minded attitude, and teamwork.

Her colleagues owe her a huge thank you, as she took one for the team, and now she has inspired someone to "pay it forward" by thinking outside the box as to how we can service our customers, clients, co-workers, etc better rather than blame someone else when things go wrong. This story is not about a bagel, it is about personal accountability. In "QBQ: The Question Behind the Question", John Miller describes shifting from blame to accountability using examples just like the one I saw with Lynnette today. Don't ask "why didn't I get the promotion?" or say"that's not my department". Own the problem, own the solution, and take pride in doing just that.

Lynnette transcended her role today as a coffee shop cashier to become a business leader, leadership example, and case study for teaching employees how the small things add up. One minute of one day for Lynnette ended up making such an impact that now 1000s of people are reading her story worldwide. Imagine what impact she can make in a whole week!

If you are an employee anywhere, be more like Lynnette. If you are an employer, hire more Lynnette's, and educate them that their job is more than just about the paycheck. The intangible reward of giving and making a difference is far more enriching. For Lynnette, imagine how excited she will be to see her name in print because somebody noticed the 'little things'? The little things aren't little folks. They make a huge difference.

Next time you are faced with a problem, ask yourself how you can offer your child, spouse, employee. or customer a bagel instead, and wait to see the smile on their face!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Where Have All the Good People Gone?

On Thursday, November 9, 2006, the world lost Ed Bradley, a long time black journalist on the CBS show 60 Minutes, to leukemia. Ed Bradley was one of the shows pillars, who had been reporting for more than a quarter of a century on the Sunday night show and if you had ever watched Ed at work, you would know that he was more than just a reporter.

Ed took reporting to the next level. He was a dedicated individual that represented the highest standards of his craft and a reporter that inspired a whole generation of journalists with a calm elegance that was never an act. He spent his 26-year career rooting out the truth, exposing the dark side of the human condition, celebrating the best of individual behavior, and enjoyed every minute along the way doing this. The unique thing about Ed Bradley was that he was so thought provoking, he actual let people reveal themselves. Asking the un-askable and having the confidence in actually saying the things that people would only dare to think would not be uncommon. I remember one interview where he asked Michael Jackson about his sleeping behaviors. “Do you still think that it’s acceptable to share your bed with children?” Ed asked Jackson. A question that some people would think of, yet, most would never ask. He was an individual that had the persistence and stubbornness to get only the goods he was after.

Ed Bradley was well liked and well respected. Many will miss him because of his abilities but even more because of his attitude. He leaves a legacy similar to that of Terry Fox, Princess Diana, and Steve Irwin (the Crocodile Hunter) – a humble, hard working, dedicated, and relentless individual that was committed to be the best at what he was so passionate about…and we’re unfortunate that leaders such as himself have to leave us all before their times are up.

The world needs more good people like Ed Bradley!

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Conditions of Unconditional

The Conditions of Unconditional

The last week of my life has been spent with great friends One of our tight knit group prepared to walk down the aisle and into a new chapter of his life. For me, already married with children, it was a time to roll back the clock and spend as much time as I could just ‘being’ with my friends.

As the only one of the ‘crew’ that was married inevitably I was asked the many strange questions that coincide with the nerve racking episode about to take place. I didn’t really have the answers any more than the next guy but I relished the role as much as I could. Our friend knew things were about to change and yet for the four of us, especially me since it had been tougher and tougher to drop by for some casual time, it was like nothing could or would ever change. It was reaffirming to remind myself that friendships don’t need to change if the bonds are strong enough to withstand the many twists and turns of life. This week reminded me that true friendships are unconditional and will continue to grow if treated with respect.

I believe that many people have expectations that they impose on the world and those expectations generally have a dramatic effect on their relationships. How much money does that guy make? Is that person stable? What religion is she aligned with? The list of preconceived expectations is numerous. It seems upon further inspection that most expectations are heaped upon others because of our own personal baggage. The media tells of the beauty of money, stability is considered better than someone who takes a chance and religious beliefs belie the true humanity of a person. For a business owner, a coach, a teacher or a manger [to name just a few] the world becomes about managing expectations because far too often we feel let down by someone who doesn’t live up to their own hype or what we wanted them to be. For many of us we take those expectations and then without thinking begin to allow them to impose on our friendships.

At school you weren’t friends with someone who had the most money, drove a great car or had the biggest shovel at the sandbox. For most of us we just found the personality that we most enjoyed and we sought those that upon first inspection and initial gut reaction where the most true to their character. Expectation has slowly ruined the bonds of marriage and although it is without media fanfare or hype there is a slow unraveling of true friendships as people use each other to move their lives forward rather than experience the road less traveled; which is to say embrace the experiences that one can have when they explore the world together, through different perspectives and different realities.

I am a blessed individual because I have true friends. People that take me as I am, challenge me to be who I can be and look to me to add my strengths to their lives. To have one real friend is an incredible feeling. To have a few that would take a bullet for me is more than anyone in the world could ask. I am truly grateful and humbled by this. These people live by an unwritten code. That code is the Conditions of Unconditional:

One free of judgment
One free of envy
One free of status
Honesty as a corner stone
Loyalty as a pillar of greatness
Integrity as the only true quality you can take to the grave
And as important as the rest; one free of expectations

Is there a place in your life where you are bringing expectations and your own baggage to a situation? Are there people that you know you are not true with and they in turn are not true with you?

To me being a great friend and having great friends is merely a mirror of what you have put out into the world. Find out who you are and let the world know that you live by a higher standard; a standard of acceptance.

Erase your old conditions and embrace the greater conditions of unconditional………

Exclamation... without the mark.

The conversation was free flowing with sharing, collaboration and laughter with the exception of one corner where there came a constant jab. We had anticipated its arrival from the moment the perpetrator stepped in the ring. Nervous and insecure as hell, it was all they could do to join right in and make that ‘lasting impression’, which had little impact beyond annoyance. As quickly as they injected themselves into the conversation, they retreated on their own accord leaving many of us pondering their point and purpose. Increasingly, modes of communication have swung from the empathetic to the selfish, the interesting to the predictable and from the enjoyable to the frustrating through the medium of sarcasm.

Sarcasm is loosely defined as ‘a form of wit intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule’(1) and is used predominantly in response to a question, statement or sentiment in conversation. However, sarcasm is also being inserted into the front end of interactions, seemingly in an attempt beat others to the punch by poking fun at our self before they get the chance. In either scenario, sarcasm is an inappropriate and unnecessary tool in our daily interactions.

Could it be that we are becoming less skilled listeners? Has the pressure to ‘outdo’ become that pervasive, or do we simply lack the confidence to express ourselves without making fun of ourselves, or others? All three suggestions probably hold some merit, but none has more truth than the last. Lack of confidence.

By using sarcasm, we are exposing the fact we are low in confidence before its determined by others. Only then can we retreat into our safe haven on our own volition and not worry about making mistakes. We have all heard the phrase ‘I was just joking’ after a line or sentiment of sarcasm that has gone too far. Well, clinically speaking, everything that passes through the mouth, has to originate in the mind so what we really meant to say was “I just said something really silly and I am sorry”. Lets explore five easy ways to stifle sarcasm before it makes its way into our conversations.

1. Think before you speak. What impact does your response have on others? Is it positive or negative? Remember, if you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything.
2. Speak when you have something to say, rather than to say something. Is there legitimate opportunity to contribute or are you forcing your thoughts in?
3. Express more – impress less. Chances are if people don’t enjoy you for who you are, they will not enjoy you for who you aren’t.
4. Don’t bring sarcasm onto yourself. You will distance yourself from people who see self- confidence as a strength and make yourself an easy host for others with low self confidence.
5. Address sarcasm appropriately. If the option of calling people on their behavior is not comfortable, there is always option of walking away.

Keeping sarcasm at arms length, be it towards your self or others, will lead to healthier and meaningful interactions. In an era where interactions have been lessened by many contributing factors, it is imperative that we take as much from each of them as we can.

(1) Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth EditionCopyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Selfishness and Success

A lot of focus in the competitive world is placed on teamwork. We look at the successful franchise and remark on how well they work as a team, which must define their success. I believe that this is all bullshit. Teamwork is necessary for any group to achieve excellence, but there comes a point where it is imperative that you are selfish in order to allow the team to function. If you are unable to achieve individual excellence, your group cannot expect to achieve excellence as well.

Lance Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles behind the greatest team in the history of cycling. The New England Patriots are the benchmark for teamwork and selflessness. Microsoft has made gigantic profits by working as a unit with marketing, production, sales, etc. all in unison. What people forget to acknowledge is the fact that every person involved with these teams is selfish. Not that they think they are greater than the sum of the parts, but that they took care of themselves first. Once they became fully aware of who they were, and what their strengths and weaknesses were, then they could become an asset to the rest of the group. By looking inward and being selfish, they were able to find their role and excel in that role personally before offering that excellence to the rest of the group.

Teamwork alone does not create a dynasty. A bunch of “yes men” who tow the company line just to get through their day, so they can claim to be part of a successful group, is not successful. These groups can continue generating great paychecks and accumulating many wins, but they will never achieve true excellence. Excellence in a team environment happens when one makes a personal inventory first, fixes any flaws, and then encourages the rest of the group to do the same. When the people they have influenced finally generate the courage to do the same, they strengthen their spot in the organization, which, in turn, makes the team healthy and ready to achieve excellence.

Group excellence is a multi tiered process that goes as such:

Invest in yourself first (me first philosophy)
To truly achieve excellence you must be willing to be selfish. Understand yourself so that you can become an asset to your group.

Invest yourself in a role within the group
Know what your role is within the group, and make sure it is a role in which you can excel. Pick responsibilities that enhance your strengths and diminish your weaknesses, and be selfish enough to admit that you can’t do everything. Being a “team player” by accepting a challenge you can’t fulfill makes the team weaker and requires others to expend more effort to make up for your mistakes.

Invest your philosophies into the group
If you are working towards an end goal that you don’t believe in, you are taking the group down with your own agenda. If your philosophies don’t match your mission, be selfish and bow out. Exerting your efforts in something you are not attached to is a waste of everyone’s time.

Invest in the group
Know yourself, know your role, and believe in your mission. It isn’t until you are certain of these that you can actually make an impact on the rest of the group/team, and become a part of the success that will follow.

Group success starts with you. Until you take the initiative to create your own success, the rest of the group will never truly excel. Always remember that you can’t be a great teammate until you are a great individual; simply being a team player achieves nothing until you know what type of team player you actually are.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

What it takes to be No.1

Coach Lombardi, put it best in his famous speech entitled “What it takes to be No. 1”. He says: “Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time."

But, there is something else that Lombardi says in his speech that became poignant to me this week. He says, “I believe in God.” This part of his speech didn’t resonate in me until this week. Let me explain.

Here is the background. As a coach and teacher at an inner city Catholic high school, I have the priviledge of coaching and educating young people who have gotten the short end of the success stick. They come from broken families, single-parent families, some live on their own in shelters and many are at or below the poverty line – lucky to have breakfast or lunch that day. While some receive the love and support that they need at that age, many do not. Too few have had success in life. Too few have experienced winning. Too few have faith in themselves or those around them. I have challenged myself to help my students experience success and winning through sport.

This fall, it was going to be in boys soccer. We set our goal at the start of the season. To win the Tier 1 (top division) city championships in both junior boys and senior boys soccer. How were we going to achieve this – through the pursuit of personal excellence, teamwork, sportsmanship and dedication. There would be an emphasis on improving I, to help the greater WE; there would be no complaints about bad fields, bad refs, or other players; and there would be no quitting. Fast forward to this week, in which both teams make the city finals. The seniors play first on Tuesday and played their hearts out only to lose 1-0 at the final whistle. Something was missing in the game but I wasn’t sure what. We had another chance to win on Thursday in the Junior final. 110 minutes of regular time and the game is 1-1, two 10-minute sudden-death extra periods and it is still tied 1-1. Five penalty shots each and it is still tied. Finally on the 6th penalty shot, our player scored first and the opposition had a chance to tie. Then something happened. All of my players knelt on the ground and prayed. Prayed that their keeper would save the shot and they would win. He did just that.

Lombardi was right – winning is an attitude – in all that we do in achieving our goals. But, when he says, “I believe in God,” I think he highlights something even more important: We need to have faith. We need to have faith in ourselves. We need to have faith in our teammates. We need to have faith in our preparation. We need to have faith that hard work will be rewarded. We need to have faith that when the game is on the line, that we can do it. What it takes to be number one is a winning attitude…..and it takes faith!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Attitude NOT Aptitude.

There we were, sitting in the C.E.O. of the 2010 Olympic's office, interviewing a man who's passion for being the best supercedes any hidden agenda or ego. He was the last of a long line of who's who... inclusive of the Ohio State Athletic Director, a partner from the Caldwell Partners, the regional manager from the largest drug company in the world, the co-owner of Earls Restaurants, and the HR director from one of the most progressive companies in British Columbia.

The reason for the interview; we had been asked to speak to a group of highschool students on what it takes to be a great employee. Seemed the book we published, Hire Me! struck a cord with someone as it uncovered the pandemic we are about to be faced with in the workforce: Incompetence by attitude.

Our challenge is not having material to speak to the group, it is presenting the material in a manner which engages the audience instead of lecturing them. We feel, speaking 'with' them, carries more value than speaking 'to' them. The main message: You have a responsibility in shaping your dreams. The extent to which you are successful is largely contingent on your attitude. [In simpler terminology of course].

The whole process has been validating, rewarding and liberating from the standpoint of getting the exact same answer to three main questions.

1. What do you look for when hiring people?
2. What separates good students / athletes / employee's from great ones
3. What advice would you give to young people in highschool / college / university today.

Coles notes answers: attitude.

So the 64 million dollar question becomes how do you teach attitude at a young age? Well, to get that answer, you have to sit in on our finshed product, but we can tell you what we learned about how attitude is not taught.

1. Rewarding "participation" instead of recognizing 1-2-3 or fail / pass
2. Fighting our childrens battles & making their decisions for them
3. Disabling consequences for poor behavior & performance
4. Celebrating mediocrity in any way shape or form like its 'ok'
5. Carrying on the misnomer that we are actually all equal
6. Bufferring adversities so young people don't get to experience having their bell wrung.

After speaking to all of these people, it became crystal clear to us that in speaking to young adults (our future world shareholders) - we may just be targetting the wrong audience!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Find Your Funnels

Do you or anyone you know ask "what will I do when I grow up?"
Are you passionate about your job and your life?
Are you a producer or a consumer in life?
Are you happy?
Do you have tangible activities to get excited about tomorrow?

One of life's greatest questions: "Why am I here?" Even that overwhelming doldrum can be attacked from logical, progressive thinking and acting. The next question is how?

Find the funnel
Find out what you are good at at never stop the pursuit of that which you can excel, make money at, enrich the lives of others, and lead by example. Identify your skill set, your interests, and how you would like to be remembered after you die. Yes, ask what you want said about you in the eulogy. If we ask questions of ourselves in this manner, we get answers like "I want people to remember me as a great father, teacher, giver, philanthropist", etc. No one wants to be remembered as rich- they just want that instant satisfaction they perceive richness will bring in the now.

Once you identify what you are good at, what interests you, how you can help people, and what you are or can be passionate about, you can find the funnel. The funnel is the scope of what it is you do, what you can specialize in, where your talents lie, and where your time is best spent.

Let us consider the construction worker. If they truly love their job, every construction job they tackle is "spending time in the funnel" and is time well spent. They feel invigorated, and the flame of their life's passion is fanned and grows. Any time this fellow spends at a second job (if he needs to) that is not as rewarding as carpentry; it would be considered "time outside the funnel". This time is virtually wasted. It does little to promote a sense of well-being, or to fan the flames of passion. It sucks the life out of you.

As we progress down our career paths (and this analogy is in no way limited to work), our areas of interest will begin to narrow to an area of specialty within a given discipline. This may be the carpenter who wants to work on high end homes, particularly exquisite kitchens. It may be the personal trainer who wants to work specifically with the elderly. As we progress down the funnel, more and more time must be spent in more specific pursuits, or else we are spending time "outside the funnel". Basically, we become closer and closer in touch with our true talents and interests and begin to understand why we were put on this planet. Spending time outside the funnel is spending time moving your life in the wrong direction once you already subconsciously know the direction your life is supposed to be headed.

Finding the funnel and spending as much time as possible inside it (with the right people, the right job, etc etc) is how to live a rewarding and happy life. Moreover, it is how to uncover your purpose and achieve your potential. Just remember, there may be a funnel for relationships, for work, for religion/ spirituality, for leisure pursuits, for physical challenges, etc. Spending all your time in one funnel will eventually reduce the reward garnered from time in the funnel.

So find your funnels. Be confident enough to accept and take responsibility over the fact that you are meant to contribute to the world in more than one way and that the more funnels you can find and flourish within, the happier and more complete a person you will become.

Are you in your funnel right now, or are you in a funk?

Kyoto Translation : We couldn’t give a shit.

Unbelievable weather hey? Middle of November, and we have record high temperatures, a funny little Pineapple Express and flooding right after the largest drought this province has had in DECADES? Remember the days where you would listen to your grandparents comment "you know... 20 years ago we saw this great flood where...." Well now a days, we archive those life- altering events as recently as LAST YEAR.

When I read the powers that be were going to revisit the Kyoto Accord in 2050, it became blatantly obvious we would need to increase our personal attention to doing what we could do to limit Greenhouse emissions. Subtle things like using a smaller car instead of a large one for day- to- day travel, cycling more and recycling as well as cutting down on what happens around our house and work.

Although, some people laughed, we were proud that we at least took a stance and a started in the right direction. The fact this has been brushed under the carpet, especially by the major super powers is embarrassing and frightening at the same time. What we don’t realize, is the proven fact that mother nature will find a way to balance out the discrepancy pertaining to supply and demand. Rashly and quickly! If you have not noticed it happening, wake up. It's become much more than a bunch of hypochondriacs spouting off.

Strange thing about human nature is that we will all scramble to the theatres to see Al Gore's movie on global warming an spread rave reviews... oh yes, uh huh, wow... followed by doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING bcs really it is an inconvenient truth hidden by the fact ca$h is king. If we really thought of the implications on the generations, we might be forcing someone to do something now. Statistically speaking, the greatest period of destruction is from 1970 to present, exactly the year I was born. Thinking about my epitaph, born 1970, over-consumed, left the world a shitty place for you.

That’s not ‘good enough’ for me.
That's not 'good enough' for you either.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tackling a Mountain

A challenge – yes! So is anything else that you might find difficult. Life is full of challenges whether you like it or not. Thus, the attitude you bring towards any challenge, whether it be small or large will determine if and how you overcome those challenges and what you learn from them.
  • Build a team – surround yourself with similar people such as friends, family, co-workers, peers, etc. that have a common set of values and have a real interest in your success and you will get to base camp.
  • Set clear and realistic goals – it doesn’t matter if you are the first to arrive at the top, just as long as you get there when you are supposed to.
  • Know yourself - understand there is something for everybody. If one mountain is not for you, look for another mountain to climb.
  • Be commited – nothing significant is achieved without commitment and dedication towards that one goal. If and when you can involve others in that commitment, it can make the difficult possible. without commitment, it will be difficult to make it half way.
  • Bring the right attitude – your attitude is the real determinant of your ability to achieve your goals in life. It is not only about the physical strength that you require to climb any mountain it is about the 80% mental that is required to withstand the weather.
  • Fight through adversity – when faced with an overwhelming challenge, don’t back away. Try to break it down into a series of smaller achievable challenges and conquer it, one step at a time. don't focus on the summit focus on your daily targets.
  • Understand things take time – Mt Everest isn’t climbed in a day so why should any other mountain be. You can’t do everything at once, in the first day in a career, or the first year in a relationship. Take on what you can carry, ask for help on the rest and then as you gain experience and strength, slowly increase the load you carry in life.
  • Ask for help – don’t let your attitude and ego prevent you from reaching the peak. There is hardly anything you can't do if you have the proper support systems. If you experience a snowstorm on the way, utilize the team that you have constructed to get you through what you couldn’t alone.
  • Keep your perspective - when times get difficult and you feel that you are carrying all the troubles in the world, understand you are not the only one and others carry loads too.
  • Remember your passion - you may have the best equipment, most diverse team, and most information to tackle the challenge but you can always be out-played and out-performed by someone with more passion than you.
  • Take a moment - take the time to reflect on previous accomplishments and utilize them as a foundation for building the confidence required to accept future challenges.
  • Remain humble - never forget the lessons learned and that you are no better or worse than the person you are climbing beside, infront of, before, etc.

Life is about creating yourself - pick a mountain and climb it!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Google Search

Search Your Soul

A quick search via of the words “consumer report” will yield 5,100,000 sites available to the enquirer. A hefty number indeed for what can best be described as a search for information on material goods or services.

A similar search on the very same of the words “environmental report” will yield only 1,350,000 sites to access.

There is nearly a 4 to 1 difference between what we as a population are searching for and websites we could use to educate ourselves on impending or current world issues.

Searching for “consumer complaints” showcases yet another 2,000,000 plus sites where one can either process or pursue their problems with businesses and products.

Now I realize that there are millions of ways using to make the number of available websites appear favourable so a point can be illustrated but the fact remains more and more of the population cares about and believes they are consistently being ripped off. More and more of the population is spending time finding out what others, who aren’t necessarily experts, think about products. More and more people are spending vast amounts of resources and time to report problems and effectively whine about businesses and consumables. More and more people are also sounding off behind an anonymous veil of a web name or nickname [but that’s another story for another day].

While the improprieties of businesses of all kinds drift through the collective psyche of especially our first world nations there is considerably less mental effort being put towards solving major world issues like environmental sustainability or empowering a lost generation of single parent children.

Wake up people. You are not being ripped off. You are not being hard done by and you are not what you own. The only thing you should be responsible for is your integrity and what you stand for.

The irony of a population consumed by what it buys and discards is not lost on Mother Nature or those that continue to swim up stream.

You are not what you own. You are not what you buy. You are responsible for what you purchase and how you use your time. You are responsible for what you believe and what you leave behind. Don’t sell your integrity and buy into a culture of greed.

Don't forget to remember.

I got the call from a good friend. He planned to take his three year old down to the legion and volunteer to distribute poppies. Seemed like as time went by, fewer veterans were able... or even alive to honor their comrades and preserve the memory. No hesitation... we were in.

For our children, Rememberance Day would be much more than "another day off in British Columbia". It would be a time to pay hommage and thanks to those who gave their lives. I know, seems idealistic, yet the one place we are guaranteed to be every Nov 11th at 11:00 a.m. is at the local Rememberance Day celebration. There's no band wagon in this household, we think it's the bare minimum we can do.

The boys living great grandfather served in the war. Immigrated to this country, changed his name, started a printing business and then picked up a weapon no questions asked and sailed half way around the world to fight so we could live as we do. He's a man of few words but every one of them hits the mark. I think if you serve in a war, you deserve to say as much or as little as you want and not give a shit about anyone else thinks. Sometimes, I wish more people said less in my own interactions.

For those who do not make the effort to educate their children on the significance and magnitude of Rememberance Day, let me paint the picture of an 87 year old vet, with two hearing aids who's wife is by his side, (yelling the reason we are there). He looks on into a place few of us would ever know, yet alone send our children - brothers - sisters or friends and half smiles. He takes a young hand in his wrinkled trembling hand an whispers. .....Thank you.

Let's call a spade a spade, fewer people would enlist today than those 40 & 50 years ago. As much as part of it is our ability to utilize diplomacy, the diminishing reality is the fact that courage and honor die each year one of these veterans pass along and are not replaced proportinately.
  1. Teach your children the value of those two words
  2. Educate why its necessary to pay respect to those who died for our freedoms
  3. Remember, to honor Rememberance Day year, after year, after year. It's more than another day to live our "lifestyles".

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Morality vs. Money

No surprise here, revenue is the number one driving force in business. When we generate revenue we can run our businesses, promote our philosophies, and support ourselves as well as our families. This is the reason we got into the positions we are in, to help others and fulfill our own needs at the same time. On the other hand, success in business is quantified in dollars made, and the general belief is that the more you make the more successful you are, and the more people you can reach. Whether you are in the non-profit sector or the for-profit sector, your impact is only as great as the money you have to continue providing your product. Stating this obvious fact leads to one question: is the quest for financial success causing us to abandon our initial reasons for entering our professions so that we can now make a profitable business?

The answer falls on both sides of the fence. We can take money from investors who don’t necessarily share our same values in order to reach more people in need, or we can stick to what we believe in and struggle to get our message to all those whose lives will be enhanced through our work. We are in the business of changing the lives of others, which is our chosen profession, and we need revenue to reach as many people as we can with our philosophies. This is a moral dilemma; there can be a high cost associated with such comfort.

Take childhood obesity for example. In the US, children are becoming obese at alarming rates and this trend is not slowing down. Statistics for the future of the next generation are bleak; childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 25 years, with 11 million overweight children in the US today. These children will cost tax payers billions in obesity related illness, and will be the first generation ever to not exceed the lifespan of their parents.

The purpose of this post is to gauge our current philosophies against our initial reasons for getting into these professions. It is intended for us to evaluate where we are receiving revenue, and at the cost of whom? We should take personal inventory and see where we have made hypocritical choices and how that portrays ourselves, our peers, and our businesses.

Watch any major sporting event around the world and it will be hard not to find a fast food chain as its main sponsor. In fact, every major sports league has a fast food sponsor, a cola sponsor, and a chip sponsor, not to mention the alcohol and Viagra ads for adults who accompany their kids to the game. Even the US Olympic Team has a major sponsor whose dollar menu makes it even easier to buy their questionably healthy products. In essence they are promoting physical activity and health through dollars funded by the same products that fatten up society. Television is an accomplice; running the same ads, targeted at the same audience, pushing the same agenda. The revenue from these ads are distributed to teams, players and coaches (as well as colleges) who are growing fat in the pockets while their audience grows dangerously fat.

The health and fitness industry is no better. These clubs accumulate new clientele, who will survive in the club for roughly three months and then continue to pay monthly dues while never setting foot in the gym again. This revenue is used to sponsor athletes, events, stadiums, teams, and TV shows as means to ensure that the steady stream of clientele keeps pouring through the doors. Trainers will continue to be paid for the client who consistently misses his/her training session, sending the obligatory “we missed you today” phone call with no initiative taken to discover why they keep missing sessions. These people will be given promises that they have no means to achieve on their own, and are given service that is over-promised and under-delivered.

This accounts for a group of individuals who pay gigantic fees for a personal trainer who has neither the vision nor ability to deliver on any of the selling points that generated business in the first place. The consumer has the will to make changes in their lives and the seller hasn’t the slightest idea how to make those changes permanent. Or, they do not want to make those changes permanent, because if done correctly they would be working themselves out of revenue (despite creating a self actualized and self sufficient human).

The purpose of this post is not to start a debate on the dangers of marketing and PR, but to expose our greed and lack of morality when it comes to making a dollar. We no longer focus on making an honest dollar, we just focus on how many dollars can we make. This has created hypocrisy of funding; we take money from the rich to make us richer, and in doing so, have lost focus of why we entered our profession in the first place.

To this end, billions of dollars have been spent in order to remove tobacco advertisements from every arena in life; what of these other products that will, ultimately, have a similar effect on the lives of the next generation? Non-profit foundations have been started, and well funded, on the taxing of tobacco products. At their events, targeted specifically for young children, fast food chains are welcomed to sell their product and promote their brand. Television shows created around people losing tremendous amounts of weight air commercials for products with high fat and sugar content. Morals and values out, revenue in. Hypocrisy ignored.

It’s a simple battle of quantity vs. quality. We can serve as many people as possible while holding true to our beliefs, and ensure each of those people received our best. Or we can serve a much larger population with less impact; the people served only receiving a fraction of what we were when we started.

The next time you have your next great idea, the idea that will make a millionaire out of you, consider where that dollar is coming from. Consider who will be affected by that offer. Then go out and make a lasting impression by holding true to your beliefs. Get back to the person who set out to change the world on a personal philosophy. Your legacy will not be carried on by your bank account, but by the impact you have made on the lives of those you served….honestly and with conviction.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Failing our kids

Our teachers:

  1. Are no longer able to give students a 0 mark in school for work not done, not handed in or poorly done.
  2. Are no longer able to fail our students – rather they must say that insufficient evidence has been provided to evaluate them.
  3. Can no longer hold students back a year in school when they have failed a majority of their subjects.
  4. Must give them every opportunity to demonstrate competency possible, even if that means providing a “make-up” test or a “credit-recovery” opportunity.

The real world:

  1. If you don’t do the work, you get fired.
  2. Failure is a reality and sometimes we need this to promote learning.
  3. You don’t move forward until you complete the task before you.

So – the question I ask is this – By not failing our children in school are we failing to prepare our kids for life?

Our children have become conditioned to accept mediocrity. They know that they won’t and can’t be failed in school. The end result – a society (and exponentially growing in number) of young people who think it is their right to not be failed. They think they should be given an endless supply of “second chances”. Is it any surprise that they are devastated the first time they are fired from a job, told there is no second chance or told they cannot move forward until they complete the task? It shouldn’t be.

We are all teachers in some capacity – but our school teachers we must be allowed to teach – and it starts with the difference between exceptional, mediocrity and failure. With failure comes learning.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Modern Day Romans

IN UNIVERSITY I MINORED IN HISTORY – American, not World – but I recall studying the Roman Empire in high school and remember learning that the reason it imploded revolved around unbridled ego, greed, scandal and selfishness.

While watching the 2004 Olympic Summer Games on tv I could not help seeing parallels to the Roman era, perhaps the beginning hints of a societal implosion, and it begged the question: Is there more to this parallel than just irony?

I watch the news of the doping scandals and I think about how these things came to be. Doping scandals revolve around much more than simply certain individuals getting caught. They are the result of societal pressures, contrived standards, and monetary reward systems that we all have a degree of influence over. In our society we subscribe, preach, endorse and reward “Number 1”, “The Winner”.
I watched the U.S. men’s basketball team lose to Puerto Rico, and there, right in our faces, is proof of the error of this cult of the individual, where a group of highly paid athletes don’t know how to operate as a team and are beaten by a true TEAM. A team consisting of some of the NBA’s younger players, while some even more highly paid athletes seemingly couldn’t be bothered to show up and represent their country.

Imagine, in any other country, passing up such an opportunity? Yet we market, promote and endorse these players. I see the bigger-picture direction of professional sports with issues like salary caps, potential lockouts, refusing to play under league governance, the purchase of “championship talent” who - perhaps not so ironically - lose to “team talent”, as in the NHL, NBA and MLB championships this year. We see teams acquire young talent and then we watch these inexperienced “role models” thoughtlessly discard opportunity. We subscribe to the idea of “dream teams”, and we market, promote and endorse these soap operas. I see how the above examples can impact the daily operations of a business. Some people come into a business with preconceived (albeit non-malicious) notions of entitlement.

We have engrained this “show me the money” attitude into the psyche of the masses to such a degree that people actually believe that easy opportunity, fast upward mobility and quick fixes exist. And we accept, preach and celebrate such ideologies through our media outlets. I see these media outlets staining the fabric of human behavior. The television has become the primary source of education in the household and “reality television” is the new vehicle or substitute for companionship.

The news outlets continually feed us fear so we have to keep coming back for answers, and we see the glorification of disasters, gruesome details of savagery and then compassionate commentary on rationales. We migrate to disaster, focus on the failures, and line up to watch the controversy. I see the effect these things have on today’s youth and children as they work hard to develop their own “me-titude” from the surplus of poor examples. I don’t wonder that they show much less respect than youth of the past, drop out of school in alarming numbers, and suffer from an obesity epidemic. We lead these children into this ideology, stifle their individuality, and pass down our bad luggage to ensure they don’t stand a chance. I see an even bigger picture of the state of affairs with North American governments.

We have “democratic” governments “for the people, by the people, through the people”… with the exception of any and all accountability. Our leaders lead with language that appeals to the lowest common denominator, but they are behaving exactly the way we allow them to behave. We subscribe, believe, elect, trust and support poor leadership.

I look at these examples and I wonder if people, a) actually realize how much power and control they have to influence these examples, b) truly want to extend the effort over the course of their lifetime to ensure we leave something workable for the future and, c) will continue to choose profit over people. I wonder if the Roman people – after the decline and fall of the Roman Empire – realized they had been brainwashed into the oblivious following which led to their ultimate demise. And I wonder what it willtake for the present-day masses to see what is happening and choose to do something about it before history repeats itself. The implosion that has de-fragmented Europe will make it to our soil very quickly if we do not open our eyes.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Stuck in a Moment?

The industry has gone platinum; self help, self healing, self exploration, introspection & aroma-spection with the intent of locating the conclusive ‘a-ha’ that will guide us into the tidy conclusion of our story. We all have a story.

If you sat down and wrote what would your story be about? Who would it reach and what message would it send? Who would listen and what credibility would you have to support your comments? Would it help you define who you are, why you do what you do, how you became what you have and what are you teaching others as a result of your life experiences?

So many of us journey through life unaware of our true gifts and talents because we are taught what we were supposed to be & do instead of experiencing what we want to be & do. Agreements from those we looked up to and trusted have (intentionally and unintentionally) jaded our perspectives and values as we struggle to make sense of it all. “Buy Nike, get grades, go to college, great job, move up, buy house, marry wealthy, invest money, take vacations, acquire assets, and retire wealthy”. Many of us are living stories that are not our own.

By nature we are hypocritical. Condoning actions when it suits us, we establish the gray area in which we operate to avoid the realities of decisiveness. When we look around and watch others, we can see them continuously polishing the surface of a rotten core. “fine… fine.. fine”. Today’s society is a mass of unsolved, incomplete problems……. repeating themselves. What does this mean for us? It means there are an infinite amount of untitled, unfinished stories that will never make it to the shelves or if they do – are filed in the ‘Groundhog Day’ (every day is the same day) section. It also means gridlock within the systems designed to keep things moving. A poignant illustration is the dysfunctional family, from which a high percentage of us evolve. The theme from this type of family revolves around what we can’t do.

The ‘what we can’t do’ record is played over and over again and so loud that even when your intention is to create a different environment than the one you were brought up in, you echo the same theme. Unless you break the cycle through introspection, communication and consistency, you will become what you fear. You will become what you fear because that’s all you know. You will pass your story down the line as a blueprint that others will follow. The solution – open your eyes. Survey your needs, wants and haves and if you deem necessary - Change.

Change requires accepting accountability that something was wrong in the first place and taking the responsibility to make a difference. Change starts inside and is the most powerful resource an individual has.

Blaming, faulting, resenting, undermining, whining or complaining happens outside and more often than not, does not help the author get to the conclusion of the story. From the time we are born, we are taught nothing is our fault and problems always seem to start from forces outside of our ‘rights’. In reality, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Imagine if people had the ability to hold themselves accountable for all of their own actions what the world would be like.

We sit in admiration of those who create their own stories because it is those who create their own stories that stand out. “what a great story”, “isn’t that a good story” – sound familiar? Is it a coincidence that most of the great stories come on the heals of forced adversity? Is it a coincidence that those stories are the only stories worth reading on the shelf? The rest is the same stuff, different pen name and a different cover. You have the power to influence and impact many people in your lifetime, Anthony Robbins, Landmark, Steven Covey, your therapist, mentor, religious denomination or personal guru are not telling you anything you don’t already know, they are being consistent and simplifying the steps.

The first step is to understand that you are the author of your own autobiography and you can decided exactly how your story will read.

The second step is utilizing the hundreds of thousands of resources that are available and choosing the best one for you.

Draw your own conclusion.