On Bringing Out The Best

be nice

I started thinking about this a couple of weeks ago when my friend Larry Lowe started the ball rolling on my Facebook wall with something  he called R.A.P.  That stands for Random Appreciation Post.  Every couple of days Larry does a random post just to say “I appreciate you” to someone in his life.

It has become a contagious exercise.  I started posting my own R.A.P. on Facebook and re-discovered a couple of things I knew but hadn’t thought about in years.  First, these people are all positive influences in my life.  And secondly, I’m a better person when I’m with them.

So how does that happen?  How can simply being in the company of a friend make me a better person?  It’s not like they knock on the door and hit you with some kind of zombie apocalypse mind meld that makes you want to be be better.  It just happens because they are who they are.

So I wonder how can someone just ‘be’ and make your little part of the world a better place?

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure this out.  And I may have some insight.  Every one of he people in my life that makes me a better person seems to have the following traits in common:

1.  They are perpetually happy.  Even on down days (yes, we all have them), they find something to focus on that makes them smile and the rest of the world seems to smile with them.

2.  They treat everyone with respect.  There is a difference between courtesy and respect.  Courtesy, as they say, is common.  Respect not so much.  When you’re with these people you feel respected.

3.  They lead by example, sort of.  You will never hear one of these magical people say things like “it can’t be done”.  And they don’t say “why don’t you try it and find out”.  They say things like “let’s give it a try and see if we can make it work”.  Their leadership style means standing by your side and not in front expecting you to follow.

4.  They are positive thinkers but not in the traditional way people interpret that phrase.  They don’t believe in absolutes, celebrating the positives and avoiding the negatives.  It’s more like they look at things as they are realistically but choose to pay a little more attention to the good things, the small kindnesses, the small wonders in life.  And they share those rather than the inevitable challenges.

I am blessed to have many people like this in my life.  I won’t name them individually but you know who you are.  And I spend as much time with them as I can because it just feels good to be with someone because you are a better person when you are.

And as always, something to make you think:  “Keep your face to the sunshine and you can’t see a shadow” (Helen Keller)

View From The Office

My friend and business partner Mike sent me a picture this week.  At first glance, it was a nice pic.  It took some time for me to grasp the full impact of what he had provided.

Mike is a chopper pilot.  He flies to and from offshore oil rigs in Asia.  And this particular picture was taken from his seat in the cockpit one warm, sunny but slightly cloudy morning.  He labelled it “today’s view from my office”.

I found myself looOffice Viewking at it again and again trying to unravel the mysterious hold on my attention it had taken.  And I started thinking about everyone that looks out their office windows every day.  What do they see.  Other offices or office buildings or some non-inspirational vista?  Or, as I did for most of my career, sitting in a small radio studio with no visibility to the outside world, surrounded by soundproof baffles.

So I closed my eyes and imagined myself in the studio with a window that provided the view that Mike had the foresight to capture from the helicopter pilot’s seat.

The feeling was bliss.  Calm, focused, productive and happy.  That’s a great way to spend your day at work.

And no, I’m not naive enough to think that a simple picture will cure all the challenges you face at work.  But if one picture can make even a slight, positive change, isn’t it worth a try?

I’m going to suggest that you do something about the view from your office window, even (and perhaps most especially) if you work from home.  Find that picture of a person, place, situation or thing that makes you feel great and stick it to your window.  Someplace where it takes just a glance to catch your eye just for a second now and then throughout the day.  And if you want to share the view from your office window, please feel free to tell us about it (condensed form) in the comments section of the blog.  I’d love to hear what inspires you.

Mike inspired me.  I owe you one, buddy!

And as always, something to think about:  “All men dream, but not equally. “Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”  (T.E.Lawrence)



Climate change, coffee cups and credibility

I’ve started blogging again.  It has been a while.

Why did I take such a lengthy break?  My mentor asked me the same quesion and I couldn’t come up with any kind of a rational response.  As a matter of fact, I couldn’t even come up with an irrational response.  So blogging is back.

Let me begin this blogging rebirth with a disclaimer.  Please read it carefully.  I’m hoping it will stave off any discussion about global warming.

This is not about global warming.  I don’t have enough information to formulate an opinion and I don’t have enough scientific background to intelligently analyze what little information I do have.

This is a post about credibility.  But it kicked my thought processes into overdrive when I read recent reports about the ‘People’s Climate March’ held last month in New York.  The reports estimate that approximately 300,000 people banded together to shed light on climate change and global warming.  That’s a lot of people who are committed to cleaning up the environment, recycling and all the other necessary elements required for a sustainable, clean planet.  Kudos to the organizers.  Great turnout.

However, here’s where it gets sticky for me.  The reports of the march included detailed descriptions of the aftermath.  Estimates from the clean up crews indicate that over 150,000 paper and styrofoam coffee  cups, thousands and thousands of paper and cardboard signs, plastic water bottles and tons of other litter were left on the streets by the marchers.

garbageThe definition of the word ‘credibility’ according to the dictionary is “the quality or power of inspiring belief”.  I define ‘credibility’ as doing what you say you are going to do.

Are your actions in alignment with your words?

Perhaps you see where I’m going with this already.  If your stated purpose is to assist in greening the environment, wouldn’t it be a much more credible gesture if you picked up the tons of garbage, much of it recyclable and compostable, that you left on the streets during the march?  That way, your message wouldn’t be diluted by headlines like “protesters branded as hypocrites“.  Much more effective would have been headlines that read “marchers drive home their point by leaving parade route spotless”.

And what of  actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s passionate speech to the United Nations on the same topic?  The words were certainly delivered sincerely, professionally and well intentioned.  But this is the same Leonardo DiCaprio that rented one of the worlds largest luxury yachts for the entire FIFA world cup tournament, a vessel that is reported to use upwards of 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day.

Actions in alignment with words?

Finally, to the point.  We all are judged by our words and our actions.  Not individual words and individual actions.  Words and actions are judged together creating credibility.  And if those words and actions are not in sync, credibility disappears.  As always, my mission is to make you think.  So spend a few minutes thinking about your words and your actions.  Are they in alignment?  Are you just talking the talk or are you ‘walking the talk’?

I love this quote from Hannah Arendt:  “Power is actualized only when word and deed have not parted company”.

Good to be back 🙂