The Gift Of Life

After all these years, it continues to amaze me how life continues to amaze me.

And most of that amazement comes from the convergence of time, space and message when you really need it the most.

Many of the regular readers to this blog know that I spent a very long time in the broadcasting industry.  It was a great job full of wonderful opportunities and spectacular people.

This past week, a man who had a major impact on the radio industry in Canada passed away.  His name was Craig Smith.  Interestingly he was not a broadcaster.  He was a fan.  A dedicated, consistent, adoring fan of radio and the people who he listened to every day on a multitude of stations he loved.

Craig Smith created a discussion board called the Southern Ontario Western New York Radio Forum.  Most people call it SOWNY for short.  Those of us that participate regularly just call it the “big yellow board”.  It became a home for broadcasters and more importantly for anyone who loved the radio medium.  We are in Craig’s debt for creating this wonderful resource.

A transplant might have saved Craig.  I am not a doctor so it is truly a supposition on my part that he could have contributed to so many people he never met for many more years if there had been a donor match.

And thus begins the convergence of ideas and time.

My sister, who lives 3000 miles away, is the co-ordinator for Transplant Manitoba.  She isn’t a part of the life-giving medical teams that facilitate transplants in the operating theatres.  Her job is to give life to the program itself.  And she’s very good at it.

For 15 years she has worked to take the message of organ donation to the world.  I’m so proud of her.

And today, in my inbox, was an email from my sister telling me that she just had an article published in a widely read newsletter.

The convergence continues.

A transplant co-ordinator with an article published in a newsletter written by a double-lung transplant recipient named Jim Ladd arrives in the immediate aftermath of the passing of a man who selflessly contributed his time and love to thousands of people and passed away waiting for a transplant.

There is a message here.

Or perhaps two messages.

First, read the article my sister wrote.  It will open your eyes forever to the possibilities a simple signature can provide.

Secondly, sign your organ donor card.

I’m sure my sister never met Craig Smith.  But I am in awe of both of them.

Time For Gardening

I subscribe to author Nicholas Boothman’s mailing list.  Nick doesn’t send out a lot of emails, but he makes sure that when he does, there is something of value.

I received his latest mailing this morning and felt compelled to share it.

This is the time of year when we all start to think about getting the yard and garden ready for summer enjoyment.  Perfect scenario for this gem from Nicholas Boothman:

“Judging by the amount of time most people spend at work, you might think money makes people happy. The results of a study about happiness were released recently and revealed a surprise. Researchers compiled statistics from almost 60 countries and found among other things that, assuming your life is chugging along normally and you can cover most of your obligations, make the mortgage, feed the kids, take a holiday once in a while, what do you think came in at the number 1 spot for giving the most happiness to the most people in the most countries for the most time?

You might think it would be winning the lottery, a promotion at work, a pay raise? You’d be wrong. How about kids or marriage? Spirituality? Helping out your community? Wrong again.

Turns out it was none of the above. The activity that gave the most happiness to the most people for the most time was gardening.

Gardening! That’s right. Think about it for a minute. You plant seeds and watch them grow – some for a season others for years.

Growing stuff is in our nature. I know all you gardeners reading this will get it immediately but not everyone is a gardener. But, in a way perhaps we are all gardeners. Some people plant seeds in the ground. But we all plant seeds in people’s minds: seeds of ideas, seeds of relationships.

We are all constant gardeners and, as any gardener will tell you, ignore your seeds and they’ll wither and perish. How many seeds have you ignored or forgotten? Nourish your seeds, get rid of the weeds, and they’ll flourish and grow. And you’ll be happy.”

This is ancient truth.  If you read the Bible, and I admit to being an amateur on the Bible, you will find the parable of the ‘sower’.  It’s a wonderful parable about planting seeds.  The ‘pause to think’ aspect, of course, is that the story is not really about sowing seeds and planting crops.  It is exactly what Nicholas identified.  Planting, nurturing and providing fertile ground for people will make you a huge success in life.  More importantly, it will make you happy.

To subscribe to Nicholas Boothman’s mailing list you can click this link:  I need a Boost.

Finding Time In A Busy World

We’re all busy.

Life’s daily challenges get in the way so we sacrifice many of the most essential elements of a happy life in order to fit everything in.

Are you just too busy?

You know you’re too busy when…(Adapted from Oprah Magazine)

…your dog has figured out how to walk itself.

…you actually do business during business lunches.

…you shout “hurry up” at stop lights.

…you shout “hurry up” at the microwave.

…you decide to drink less water so you don’t have to take so many trips to the bathroom.

…you look forward to taking time off for oral surgery.

…you think about returning phone calls while in the shower.

Finding Balance in a Busy World

Life isn’t easy.

40-hour workweeks, and personal obligations can be overwhelming.

So what does it take to do everything, and still leave some time for you?

The trick is balance. And it is a trick.  Just like magic tricks and balancing acts, you need to plan and practice.

Here are some steps you can take to bring a bit of  balance back into your life.

Define balance – What does “balance” mean to you? Take some time to think about and define it for yourself. What does your life currently look like and where is your time spent? Then, considering your core values and priorities, decide how you would like it to look. Do you want to spend more time with family and friends, or would you like more time for yourself? Think about what is right for you and create a vision for moving toward that.

Eliminate time wasters – Unless you really enjoy Survivor or sitcom reruns, turn off the TV and do something that will feed your spirit and give you more satisfaction.  The average North American watches about 30 hours of television a week.  That’s incredible when you think about it.  But cut that down by 7 hours a week, eliminate a few shows that you really don’t care about, and you’ve got an hour a day of spare time to add to your ‘balance quotient”.

Develop a support network – Plan for the unexpected. Whether it’s childcare, eldercare, or any other needs, think about who can help when you or your primary support isn’t available.  Accept the fact that no one is irreplaceable.  You are not irreplaceable.  And if you need to take an hour away from the kids or the job you need to have a strategy in place.  This moves well into the next tip……

Have a strategy – Having a strategy for getting the kids to soccer or gymnastics, while still making it to a board meeting or community event will make things easier and give you a few minutes to collect your thoughts and focus on YOU.

Move your body –  Life is hectic and maintaining your physical activity couldn’t be more important. It can give you time for yourself and is the one thing you can depend on to help you refocus.

• When possible, eliminate choices – There are so many choices these days.  Too many.  I actually ranted about that in an earlier post.  While having a lot of choices can be positive, too many of them are overwhelming. Limiting your choices to a manageable number can help reduce stress and busyness. Focus on what is important and be happy with the choices you make.

Think of time like money – Time is ever so much more important than money.  If you spend a dollar, you can always earn another one.  But if you spend a minute, it’s gone forever.  Time is limited so be wise. Budget it and spend it purposefully and carefully.  The great mentor Jim Rohn used to say “Don’t spend major time with minor people”.  He was so right.

(Adapted from the National Institute For Wellness)

Haiti Disaster Relief – Beware the Scams!

Unfortunately, there seems to be a recurring theme in life.  And that theme can perhaps best be put this way:  For every decent, moral and compassionate human on the planet, there are others scheming to take their money.

There really are people who feel it is their right to put decency, morals and compassion on hold for their own gain.

Lots of them.

This is especially true in times of need.

The horrendous disaster that struck Haiti is on a massive scale seldom seen in our lifetimes.  The need is so great it brings many of us to tears.

And for that reason, you need to be very vigilant about where you send your donations.

Send your donations, absolutely!

But be aware that almost overnight dozens of phony Haiti relief charities have sprung up.  That’s right.  People with soul so bare that they take money from disaster victims.

Shame on you.

But shame as well on many of us for falling for the ‘quick way to do it’.

Social media, blogs, Facebook and other sites are now full of pleas for help, asking you to send money.

Here’s what seems a prudent suggestion – send money to organizations you already know are legitimate.

Yes, that’s probably an oversimplification on my part.  But you know the Red Cross.  And Oxfam.  And UNICEF.  And many  other legitimate aid organizations with familiar names.

Perhaps the best way to avoid helping criminals and making sure your money gets to the victims is in the wisdom of the Better Business Bureau website:

  1. Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity. Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other Web sites, as they might not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. The public can go to www.bbb.org/charity to research charities and relief organizations to verify that they are accredited by BBB and meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
  2. Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fundraising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. If a charity claims 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting earthquake victims, the truth is that the organization is still probably incurring fundraising and administrative expenses. They may use some of their other funds to pay this, but the expenses will still be incurred.
  3. Be cautious when giving online. Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to spam messages and e-mails that claim to link to a relief organization. In response to the tsunami disaster in 2004, there were concerns raised about many Web sites and new organizations that were created overnight allegedly to help victims.
  4. Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas. Unless the charity already has staff in the effected areas, it may be difficult to get new aid workers to quickly provide assistance. See if the charity’s Web site clearly describes what they can do to address immediate needs.
  5. Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups. Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and giving directly to charities that have a presence in the region. Or, at a minimum, check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to ensure the organizations are equipped to effectively provide aid.
  6. Ask before giving gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations.In-kind drives for food and clothing-while well intentioned-may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need, unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to be able to properly distribute such aid. Ask the charity about their transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance.

And just so you know, my money is going to the Red Cross.

(photo courtesy of AP Photo/Matt Marek/American Red Cross)

My Hero Lisa

I know this blog is supposed to be about business and mentoring and presenting.  And I try to keep it close to that most of the time.

But every once in a while you just need to say what needs to be said.

Every single one of us has been touched by cancer.  A friend, a loved one or a co-worker has had to face that battle.

Heros are hard to come by in society to day.  Two of mine have come from the ranks of the amazing women that are diagnosed with breast cancer.

My friend Cathy fought breast cancer for nine years.  We were close.  And through those nine years I learned about breast cancer.  I learned about love and supportive families and husbands that are there every step of the way.  She was a beacon of light and hope for other women all over the world.  The cancer finally won.

Interesting thing about that.  When one breast cancer hero can’t carry the torch any longer, another seems to appear magically from, well I don’t know where.  Breast cancer is like that.

Enter Lisa.

lisa-rendall-headshot-2009-1-199x300

I first met Lisa Rendall when she was a 19 year old broadcaster, starting a promising career.  She was full of spunk and vinegar, and often a real pain in the backside.  But she was smart, talented and I knew she was going to make a real mark on the broadcast industry.

We went separate ways as sometimes happens in radio and I really didn’t hear much about or from Lisa for a very long time.  When we reconnected it was because a mutual friend happened to mention that she was battling breast cancer.  My first thought was “the breast cancer doesn’t stand a chance”.  I think I already mentioned that Lisa was spunky and a pain the backside.  And she was tenacious.

Lisa lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada and although I don’t believe that she and Cathy ever met, Lisa has picked up the torch and is running with it.  Lisa has turned it into a marathon.

When you visit Lisa’s website, as I encourage you to do, you will find a truly remarkable woman.

From battling breast cancer to organizing her yearly golf tournaments, auctions, raffles and so much more, Lisa has become the new face of hope for anyone that comes in contact with her.  I won’t tell you her story here.  It’s on the website.  But Lisa has already raised over 1.5 million dollars for breast cancer research.  Did I mention she was tenacious?

And now, Lisa is featured in a brand new movie, premiering next month in Toronto.

About Her” will debut at the second annual Breast Fest Film Festival, to be held November 20 – 22, 2009 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

Take two minutes and have a look at the trailer for the movie.

Lisa is the blonde one.  The tenacious, pain in the backside blonde one.

And she is my hero.

As is every woman who is fighting breast cancer.