The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


As I look out the window to see green grass where snow should be, I think back to summer days – now but a memory for most. Fall clearly initiated the transformation of our days from summertime bright to wintertime dull – the only colorful additions being a short-lived insertion of yellows, reds and oranges that cover the stately coats of green all around us. Though still green, the once soft grass became brittle under our feet with the onset of winter. Lakes lost their blue luster, taking on the drab grey reflected from a cloudy autumn sky before laminating themselves with a protective coating of ice. For those accepting conventional wisdom, summer fades as quickly as flowers exposed to the season’s first frost. For those seeking their own reality, however, a change in season can initiate new beginnings rather than closing the book on chapters already lived and activities already experienced.

As a summer person, I hold onto the season for as long as possible. Rationalizing that there is less congestion on the lake in September and October than in August, we replace summer’s cloak of mosquitoes with our woolen blankets as we venture out for a nightly vigil upon the waters. (We once had to chop our boatlifts out of the ice…that year I guess we held on a bit too long!) As I remembered summer during our family celebrations, my mind envisioned the seemingly endless parade of boats lined up to leave the lake this past Labor Day. Following conventional wisdom, those lining up to leave “at a reasonable hour” were reaping traditional rewards – an early escape from the cold clutches of the lake that could grip them should they stay for but a week or two longer. They could look forward to an early arrival home, an evening of unpacking and cleaning-up before returning to work (undoubtedly feeling as though they had left a small piece of themselves behind). As with anything, those following the crowd early would share the rewards of their fellow travelers BUT might also suffer the regrets of their early departure. Some, however, are destined to go against the grain – to take the road less travelled – as validated by the occasional individual launching their boat amongst the throng of ships abandoning their stations. Knowing the beauty they were about to share by going against the tide brightened my day. While I may not have welcomed the handful of battered and bruised boats that were being inserted into my lake by these “Johnny-come-lately” folk, they were at least actively swimming against the tide to discover the peaceful treasure left behind by the fair-weather crowd.

Important life-lessons can be learned when we take the time to watch the little things that happen around us. Reflecting upon the summer dreams that flirt through my mind as I experience another Christmas without snow, I thought about the “yellow ski boat” that terrorized our quiet bay every weekend – its owners greeting the dawn and saying goodnight to the dusk throughout the summer. As it patiently waited to escape from the lake, a faded green speedboat fitted with a trolling motor and multiple fishing poles slipped quietly into the water as its replacement. A camouflage flat bottom boat awaits its entry into the water as a fleet seemed ready to slip away. Different strokes for different folks, I guess, but all part of an ongoing continuum. It seems that only when one recognizes much can come from seeking a different reality than that chosen by the crowd will he or she begin to realize that individual loss can become another’s gain…one’s beginning can be another’s end…that as dreams fade and die for one they can come alive for another. While the Holiday season brings much joy and contentment, far too often the loss individuals experience – be it a spouse, a brother or a parent (as is happening with three of my friends) – weighs heavily upon the minds of those living their own reality during this time of reflection, transition, hope and change.

I think about the changes that Nature senses and the differences that seasons bring. Where once our lakefront was crowded with ducks (and geese) seeking scraps of bread from our neighbors, fall transformed it into a swan sanctuary with a dozen of the white spectacles preening themselves, slowly and majestically stretching their wings out as if to say, “look at me…I didn’t leave!” Had we followed conventional wisdom and left with the crowd we would never have seen two blue herons perched silently upon the boatlift seeking an early morning meal. We would have missed the bald eagle that perched upon the frail branches of our dying lakefront maple tree – struggling to survive yet still offering a resting place for a powerful hunter. People fishing now fill the now tranquil waters – wearing heavy coats of wool rather than the layers of sunscreen their predecessors employed. The angry buzz of personal watercraft is replaced by the muted splash of a fish leaping from the water. The joyful laughter of children swimming no longer mask the haunting cries of gulls as they dive down towards their unsuspecting prey. To those who followed the crowd I think a silent “thank you” is in order for they allowed us who intentionally chose to remain to revel in this rich reward – to create memories that linger even into a mild winter that has yet to bring itself to fruition.

As I allowed my mind to wander this past weekend, I realized that far too many diminish their potential by following the crowd. They chose to take the easy route – the path of least resistance – and in so doing lose any chance they may have had to establish their individuality. People often suffer in silence rather than identifying and addressing the issue that most concerns them. They do what everyone else does so as not to attract individual attention. Peer pressure drives decisions, a “flock” mentality replacing what was once individuality. Family relationships can be destroyed when pride or misunderstanding are allowed to play out unabated to their natural and destructive ends. If being one of the crowd or accepted by many diminishes one’s ability to be independent and free – if doing “as is expected” creates a self-limiting dungeon rather than a land of opportunity and choice – then perhaps there is a better way to go.

Saying “no” to conventional wisdom often establishes one’s own hopes, dreams and realities. Had Fulton listened to conventional wisdom would he have invented the steam engine? Had Edison listened to conventional wisdom would he have harnessed electricity? Had the Wright brothers listened to conventional wisdom would they have pioneered flight? What might YOU be able to accomplish – what potential might you be able to realize – if you refuse to listen to conventional wisdom, choosing instead to chart a path based on independent thoughts and aspirations?

I find in reflection that I might be more apt to celebrate with those who remained on the lake this past fall, joining me as I refused to accept the conventional wisdom that summer had ended – and in doing so, accepting that there is wisdom far beyond the conventional! (Now, if only such unconventional wisdom could create snow – if even for a week or two – our winter wonderland would be complete!)

Monday, December 17, 2012


We often start the year with hope and promise, then fall so hopelessly behind that we forget about our planned course of action to end up where we started – thinking about the things not accomplished (and where all the time we had intended to spend on them has gone), placing them back on our “priority lists” for next year. Following-through on the “fresh starts” you seek this year can only happen when an intentional course is charted – when groundwork has been laid and planning has been done – prior to initiating your journey and intentionally carrying-on - taking life one step at a time.

Before setting (or renewing) resolutions for 2013, you should reflect on how specific actions made a difference during the past year. Were you able to accomplish all you wanted at work…at home…with those you love and care for? Are you in a better (or worse) place than when the year began? What happened to you “in spite of yourself” rather than “because of something you did?” Until you are able to identify “what is” and realize “what has been,” you will never be able to travel down the road towards “what could be” as you seek the possible rather than settling for that which is (and always will be) probable.

Successful individuals define objectives, consider as many possible “roadblocks” as can be reasonably anticipated and plan to avoid these obstacles before moving forward with definitive actions. To these individuals, success is not just a possibility – it is a foregone conclusion! When one sees more “downside” in failing than “upside” in succeeding – becomes hesitant to act for fear of what might go wrong – success will remain an enigma. Success eludes those who think “Why?” as it attaches itself to the actions and words of those who truly believe “Why Not?” We must recognize that SHOULD change happen, only when we accept and embrace the altered paths that open up to us will we assimilate the new realities we are presented.

Are you willing (and able) to accept change IF what you want to happen does occur? When we explicitly resolve to do something DIFFERENT, we must implicitly accept that our comfort, circumstances and situations WILL NOT remain the same!  We must leave our shelter before we can climb the summit to expereince the view from each new horizon.

There may have been a time where “keeping up” with the world allowed one to maintain their position in life. We live in a knowledge-driven world – one in which the only constant is change. To avoid another year of failed expectations, approach your “resolution process” systematically. With all the talk about “right to work” this year, make sure you exercise your right to live – to make decisions, be held accountable for their implementation AND receive the praise when your dreams come to fruition. Some basic things you should consider before closing out your old year and exchanging it for new hopes, dreams and opportunities would include the following:

Review your last year’s accomplishments. Identify what you resolved to accomplish last year. Celebrate your successes by “shouting them from the rooftops” to a friend! Determine if the obstacles keeping you from tasting success were “inside or outside” of your control – and if anything was done to eliminate the roadblocks that prevented you from realizing your goals. Do not forget to list successes from the year that were not part of your resolution process. Just because you did not “resolve” to initiate a change does not mean “credit” should not be taken for its accomplishment. The difference between successful people and those that seem to hover at the edge of greatness is often one of perspective. Some assume success is a foregone conclusion while others think of it merely as a remote possibility!

Clearly define and record your goals for the coming year. Share them with a friend or associate to establish accountability. The only good thing about having no (or low) expectations is that you will never be disappointed! Telling someone, however, is not enough. You should maintain contact with your “support network” throughout the year to keep you “on task” and focused. Secret goals are rarely accomplished.

Believe that “Nothing is impossible.”  Too many people confuse “impossible” with impractical or improbable. All things are possible…our only limitations are typically fiscal, physical, timing, confidence issues or a lack of knowledge. We will inevitably face detractors and naysayers whenever we try something new. Do not add to your apprehensions, doubts or inadequacies by questioning yourself before beginning!

Regardless of what your goals might be during 2013, remember that the only bad resolution is one never resolved. The only wrong action is action never taken. The only unforgivable mistake is one that did not teach. Reflect on last year’s successes - replicating the positive actions that “made a difference” while thinking about your failures just long enough to understand what went wrong so you can avoid repeating them.  When you consciously resolve to move forward - taking one step at a time - the sky will be your only limit!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


One of the key principles in any relationship – be it professional or personal – is that much can be accomplished IF you do not care who receives the credit for it. Though it is human nature to want recognition for successfully implementing an idea, an individual becomes a leader when he or she realizes that being responsible for something is often more important than receiving credit for its accomplishment.

A relationship will be strengthened by actively engaging in cooperative reasoning – through openly discussing all possibilities before acting to bring to fruition one individual’s probabilities. Originating alternative ideas or concepts is critical to initiate change BUT the implementation of change can often be more effective if the “doers” are empowered to act so that the “dreamers” can more freely innovate. Maturity within a relationship (or success in a managerial position) comes when the originators of ideas internalize the reality that while “doers” tend receive credit for their performance in bringing ideas to fruition they would never have acted had a new idea or direction not been brought to the surface by a “dreamer.” We far too often try to pull everyone in the direction we want to go or step over those that appear to be in our way rather than lifting those around us up and rising to the top upon their shoulders.

We unleash the potential of those around us to create change when we formulate an idea then communicate the results we wish to accomplish to those that will be implementing the change rather than telling them what to do and how to bring our thoughts to fruition. We create dependency in our relationships when we tell others what to do and when to do it rather than simply defining our goals and monitoring progress towards their accomplishment. A relationship constructed upon a foundation of dependent reliance on the thoughts and ideas of another cannot be meaningful. Growth or success beyond that which one has already achieved cannot occur until a leader (in either a business or a personal relationship) equips those around him or her with tools that allow for independent thoughts and actions.

Great leaders originate ideas, communicate expectations then move on to consider new alternatives while monitoring the progress of those left to accomplish their initiatives. They are rarely around when the tasks they initiate are completed so will not often receive direct recognition for the results – rather they celebrate in the accomplishments of others, recognizing that great rewards will ultimately come to those who can selflessly initiate change.

Those that seek recognition for their ideas and actions often lose sight of their long-term objectives and fail to meet their ultimate goals. To achieve greatness, seek it within the accomplishments of those with whom you have relationships. Leverage the capabilities of those you have equipped to act upon your ideas rather than limiting your potential to only those things you can accomplish on your own. Find yourself as you lead others through their darkness and they will help to light your way as they begin to find themselves.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


America was built upon the concept that great individual effort can result in unprecedented personal reward - that individuals can realize unlimited opportunity through hard work and the effective utilization of their abilities and resources. While we all strive to leverage our potential to achieve endless possibilities, our “roots” establish within each of us a morale and ethical duty to PROVIDE for all – but that does not mean all are entitled to receive EQUAL treatment. While we all taste success, life is an environment of equitability rather than of equality. Our efforts do not create EQUAL results - they produce results that reflect EQUITABLY against the abilities we have developed, the intelligence we apply, and outcomes we achieve.

Thanksgiving recognizes the sacrifice made by many AND the relationships developed within a new land in celebrating the sweat equity invested to make the harvest possible. Some farmed, some hunted, some cooked, some served – but all shared in the feast they helped prepare. Implied within this basic tenant is that while we ARE created equally, we possess different gifts, abilities and competencies so we ARE NOT presumed to be equal in our ability to produce or achieve results. Our Thanksgiving Holiday epitomizes sharing, celebrates the harvest and focuses on giving thanks for the bounty our great country provides.

Our country has survived many challenges from outside our borders. We have overcome adversity, established ourselves as world leaders in almost any endeavor we choose to pursue, and shared our riches with many having less. If the greatness of our country is to survive, we must brace ourselves to overcome attacks from within – attacks on an individual’s ability to demonstrate excellence, the opportunity to reap the rewards of individual efforts, and the belief that one is limited ONLY by his or her own shortcomings – by embracing the freedoms and unlimited possibilities we currently share. We must hold tightly to the freedoms that we enjoy – making certain our schools and educational institutions teach history rather than fabricating convenient stories to advance agendas.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, consider not only the harvest but also the work that went into preparing for it. Celebrate the effort as much as the rewards. Recognize the investor as much as you do the return on his or her investment. Do not let football, “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” overshadow the Holiday’s true meaning. Enjoy time with family and friends, holding dear the hard work that brought the dreams of those who came before to reality – and pray our efforts can help them continue for those who will follow as we celebrate the unique opportunities our great and free country provides.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Most people have met inspirational leaders during their lives. These individuals tend to be understated – rarely seeking attention for what they do as they prefer to celebrate what has been accomplished rather than worrying about who gets the credit for accomplishing it. They are typically the first to accept responsibility for failure, among the first to praise others for success and last to blame another – even if the “other” may have been at fault. They tend to go through life as the base of a pyramid, providing support for whole rather than seeking to be the stone elevated to the top in view of the world.
Inspirational leaders are not necessarily the captains of industry – they can often be the power behind the throne, making things happen through their subtle influence rather than their obvious demands. They are typically great communicators – be it through the written or spoken word OR through a poignant pause, a raised eyebrow, a strengthening smile or an encouraging nod of the head. What drives such individuals if not the external recognition? Recognizing that we all react and respond differently – and that we must learn from each other in order to grow – should be key factors in each of our own developmental process.

Everyone is encouraged to grow by something. Whether it is money, success, comfort, praise, attention, or accomplishment, everyone is motivated by something that is significant or inspirational within his or her own life. It is imperative that we identify what motivates those we influence when we manage people. Recognizing that “mature” workers prefer rules (and their consistent application) to an individualized approach of employee discipline helps us understand why they might react differently than a worker just out of college to the absolute interpretation of a rule or procedure. Understanding that some people prefer public recognition, freedom from structure and broad measures of accountability while others need enforceable standards of conduct and measurable objectives helps to clarify the friction that often exists between administrative and sales professionals. Values, experiences, socio-economic status, learning styles, and “stage-in-life” all strongly influence behavior, but there are several less objective, harder to define characteristics we should always examine if we are to succeed within (and contribute to) society.

There are many subtle motivational influencers we must acknowledge when managing people. These less obvious characteristics include:
  • What kind of recognition does one need for their thoughts, ideas and accomplishments? Must they receive public praise or are they content to see the results of their initiatives – preferring to work behind the curtains rather than in front of the crowd?
  • How much freedom does an individual seek within his or her daily work life? While some prefer to stretch their limits and experiment – learning from their successes AND their failures without fear of reprisal – others would prefer to avoid such learning opportunities by knowing exactly what to do and how to do it.
  • Does an individual gain more from the confidence that someone is there to “pull them along” or from the knowledge that someone will “push them into unchartered waters,” sometimes allowing them to sink or swim on their own?
Leveraging these subtle characteristics helps us to motivate others into acheiving their highest potential.

Good managers often praise some behavior while punishing others in order to foster measured growth while avoiding repetitive failure. Great managers anticipate pitfalls so they can leverage individual personality characteristics, confidence levels and risk tolerance when allowing others to succeed without inhibiting their growth. A good leader demands respect – a great leader receives it without asking. A good leader is able to accomplish change – a great leader initiates change exponentially greater than anyone might anticipate by leveraging the creative power of each individual working for him or her and channeling it towards the accomplishment of a common goal. A good leader pushes his or her people to perform – a great leader creates a vision then gets out of the way so that his or her people can move forward towards its accomplishment. While a good employee may accomplish assignments as instructed, a great employee moves beyond stated expectations to achieve what is possible rather than being content with what is probable. A good person recognizes who they are and what they can do – a person moving towards greatness recognizes (and accepts) their strengths and weaknesses (applying the one while working to eliminate the other). Recognizing our own motivators AND those that motivate others will help us to be better leaders. Understanding them – learning and growing from them – will help us to become better individuals.

Inspirational leaders put others ahead of themselves, lifting the wants and needs of those around them high upon their shoulders rather elevating themselves by placing them beneath their feet. They become the wind beneath the wings of those soaring to great heights as they rise to accomplish their dreams. They allow themselves to be pulled up by the accomplishments of others rather than climbing upon them as if they were rungs on the ladder to personal success.

Honor the great leaders you have observed in your life – those that have made a difference to you – by taking intentional action to strengthen and improve your own interpersonal skills so that you might be an example to someone else. Learn from your mistakes then communicate the lessons to those working with and for you. Grow from your failures then help others avoid them so they need not suffer needlessly. Seek strength from those able to provide it so you can encourage others less fortunate. Lead when you can, follow when you must, and ALWAYS seek to understand (and acknowledge) when you must simply “get out of the way” so that someone else can assume the responsibilities – someone that you may have encouraged and nurtured – to venture towards greatness.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Far too many people view their goal – the place they want to “land” or the person they wish to become – as their destination rather than as but a stop along the way. They view the end of their journey being more important than the path they take to arrive. We often travel as if wearing blinders that focus our view on where we are going once we leave where we are so that NOTHING will distract us from getting where we want to be. Life can teach us many lessons if we learn from our false starts and misdirection as we attempt to reach our goals.

Think of how many businesses have shut down because they were unwilling (or unable) to transform themselves into something other than what they were. When high performance eight cylinder engines were the norm rather than the exception – and when quality was hoped for rather than expected – companies were very successful making piston rings. As four cylinder engines became more prevalent – and quality became synonymous with extended use and high mileage – the market evaporated and many parts suppliers shut down because they could not re-purpose themselves. Family farms are being sold to corporate entities because they cannot compete now that refrigerated transportation has expanded the concept of “marketplace” from local to international. Small town grocery, hardware and department stores have become an oddity as large superstores and “big box retailers” have taken over the landscape. Businesses that thought they had arrived – that were content with where they were rather than looking towards where they might want to be – have become but memories. Unfortunately, people can find themselves in a similar situation should they choose contentment with what they are rather than reinventing themselves into what they could become.

Many people stall and delay – doing anything to keep from making a decision to change – until forced to move because what was once secure is gone. We wait far too long to realize that we live on a lily pad – an isolated resting spot within a large lake that will eventually wither and die. When our safe haven is threatened enough that we are finally pushed to leave, many may jump without thinking about where they might land. We tend to leap before we look – sometimes exchanging our temporary resting spot for a greater danger lurking beneath its surface. In our impatience, we jump upon the first train leaving the station without checking to see if another form of transportation might be more effective.

Rather than delaying or postponing our decisions until we are faced with disaster like the companies that could not transform themselves into something different, perhaps we should focus not only on where we wish to be but also on why we wish to relocate AND what might be the result of doing nothing. We should identify alternative approaches that might be more (or less) beneficial than the obvious leap into the water (potentially directly into the gaping mouth of a lurking predator!) before we jump towards a quick solution – yet also weigh the benefits of INTENTIONALLY doing nothing until we are sure what will result from our actions.

Whether we read a map, listen to a navigation device or look on-line for directions, when travelling we seek our destination but could not arrive without figuring out what roads to take. We must anticipate roadblocks or detours, possibly setting aside resources for tolls and unexpected delays along the way. Why do we treat life so much differently? Rather than planning for the journey, anticipating what might go wrong and preparing for potential detours along the way we tend to focus more on moving from where we are to where we want to be without thinking much about how we plan to bridge the gap between here and there.

It has been said we should lead, follow or get out of the way. Perhaps the most critical of these is the last – for if you are not part of the solution (by either leading the charge or participating in the process) then you are, perhaps, a significant part of the problem (when you fail to engage and obstruct the progress of others).

Be all that you can be by first identifying what you might wish to become then focusing upon the path you choose to take as you move forward. Look before you leap – then make sure you are ready, willing and able to learn from the journey as you reach out to accomplish your dreams.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Truth is all that surrounds us – the undeniability of nature. Truth is not merely in thinking – it is in knowing. It is not simply in feeling – it is in believing. Truth is the culmination of all things that have happened, the precursor of all things to come. Truth is not a question – it is the answer. It is not the singer – it is the song. Truth cannot be fully defined – it can only be realized. It cannot be described in any way other than how it makes you feel. Truth is in knowing - not in fearing.  Truth is in understanding - not in questioning. Truth is a touch…a voice…a presence experienced when two are immersed within their special world. Truth is what remains within them when they are apart. It is not the sunrise - it is the feeling shared as the sun comes over their horizon. Truth is not an explanation of the known but rather a faith in the unknown. If you achieve wisdom during your search for truth – learn how to apply all that you learn to benefit those around you – then you will also have found Truth. If it is truth you seek, you must ultimately abandon wisdom so that you can experience the irrational reality of truth.

Beauty is the new life a sunrise can bring – the carefree flight of a butterfly. It is the light touch of the clouds – the meeting of the sky’s blue with the sea’s green – yet it is so much more than that. Beauty is the depth of a Lover’s eyes as they gaze into the innermost recesses of another’s mind…it is the gentleness of a Lover’s touch as it caresses another…it is the radiance of a smile as gazes meet. Beauty is the way that life awakens to love’s presence. It is not “of this world” as you might think – it is what brings life to this world. Beauty fills one’s world with another’s essence by spilling freely over any boundaries that might have been built to contain it. Beauty is not a thing but a presence – not something to be held but something in which to be immersed.

Peace is the warmth that Love provides. It is the comfort of a shared touch. It is the taste of a kiss – the intimate warmth generated when two souls become one. Peace is not the thought of time spent together when lovers are apart, but rather the thoughts invested on making the most of time spent together – the shelter provided by an embrace that shuts out the rest of the world. Peace is a smile, a laugh, a presence – the result of every moment two might spend entwined as one. Peace is more sacred than anything that might be held for it can be but felt and experienced. It cannot be described or defined by mere words for it is the result of all things imagined.

Should you find Beauty, realize Truth, and discover the Peace that love provides whenever you are near someone, you will speak openly of it. You will dream of it endlessly, thinking of nothing else. Do not be alarmed should your search take you in circles and lead you astray. It is but the few – the fortunate – whom find such things in life, for rarely can one fill his or her soul completely with the love of another. Should the opportunity for Love present itself, grasp at its presence. Reach out and hold tightly at the chance to love – for it is far better to have loved and lost – to have experienced the completeness that only Love provides – than to have never loved at all. Recognize that love gives purpose to Beauty, provides Peace and becomes Truth – in ways that could never be understood by those holding tightly to conventional Wisdom – for it truly exists only within the depths of a fully surrendered soul.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


What forms a boundary for you? Is it your life experience? Perhaps things you did (or did not do) as a child? Do you have too much respect and reverence for the past? Have you become so comfortable with things the way they are that you feel no need to change? Might fear of the unknown keep you from travelling an unknown path or seeking a new direction? Are you holding yourself back from fully contributing to your world by immersing yourself in all you have – content with “what is” at the expense of “what could be?” Whatever reasons you may have – be they real or imagined – one must continue to learn and apply their knowledge in today’s world or they will begin to wither and die.  Waiting for life to come to us is no longer an option. We must constantly seek the outer limits of our self-imposed boundaries and work hard to reach beyond them if we are to grow. Should we choose not to grow, we become obstacles sitting idly in the way of others as they seek to move forward – roadblocks in the path of potential success.

How can we inject fresh perspective into the things we do and the way that we approach the future? How can we recognize that “what is” may not always be – that something different might be appropriate? Living within the past is like reaching for a comforter while sitting on the couch. Life would be much more fulfilling if you were to stand on the rooftop and reach for the stars!

Traditions should never become the destination you seek nor an excuse used to keep you from reaching beyond your present reality. Far too many individuals hide behind a sense of tradition rather than seeking new possibilities. Recognizing and valuing the past is a good thing. Holding so tightly on to the past, however – grasping it to the point that you cannot move forward – is a detriment to healthy living.

When one takes more pride in where they come from (be it national origin, gender, race or religion) than in where they are they become disconnected with reality. When one holds so tightly onto their past that there is little room left to create a new “present,” their expectations become more accommodating than assimilating. Rather than seeking new ways to utilize their gifts they tend to hold onto the old, becoming a millstone around society’s neck rather than an enhancer of its continued growth. When one expects more than they can ever wish to contribute – when they seek more than they are willing to give – when they ask for more than they are willing to share – they have stepped beyond the boundaries of tradition into the realm of entitlement. One must continually give in order to gain – knowing another will refill them through a reciprocal sharing – in order to expand their sense of past into a bright tomorrow.

There comes a time in all our lives that we must begin to stretch our sense of limitation. For some this may come in the form of exploding the walls surrounding them so that a fresh new start is inevitable. For others less willing to test new waters or travel upon unfamiliar roads, perhaps simply opening the windows and doors wide enough to escape the room that restricts them could lead to different perspectives as they begin the journey towards a new beginning.

We should not judge our lives by the number of “finishes” we experience but rather by the number of “starts” we initiate. We should not seek glory only in finishing the race for there are unlimited opportunities we find along the way. When a destination is our only reward it minimizes the growth we could have experienced as we move forward from one temporary resting place to another. Do not seek today as a destination for it is but a springboard to a new (and unknown) tomorrow. Learn from your past so you might gather strength and confidence within your present as you prepare to leap forward into a future holding unlimited possibilities.

Monday, October 8, 2012


There have been countless articles and books written about how to properly influence and motivate people. Dale Carnegie once made a fortune telling us how to “Win Friends and Influence People,” By now almost everyone knows that we must “get the right people on the bus…” if we are going to run a successful organization. We even know how to “color our parachutes…” so that we can land on our feet if something goes wrong in our business. Life, however, is not always rosy – it often comes fraught with lessons, landmines and labyrinths. No road is ever as straight and narrow as anticipated nor is success as easy to find as outlined within the books others write.

There are two sides to every story – a “heads” to every “tail.” We cannot have a “yin” without a “yang,” nor do we often experience an end unless we (at some time) initiated a beginning. What happens to the “common ordinary folk” who often put themselves before others – that tend to dictate a course of action before they seek input from others? Are there lessons that we can learn from their INADEQUACIES that will help to strengthen our own adequacies? What happens to those who tend to “tell” rather than to “sell?” Who operate from a fortress of individual strength rather than from a sea of shared tranquility? Are they destined to fail or do they simply fail to succeed? Identifying some negative styles that poison both interpersonal relationships and personal success might be the first step to avoiding the dark implications they can bring – and to avoiding them before they can stifle our accomplishments.
  •  Mistrustful individuals can appear successful, but their apparent abilities often hide a deep distrust of others. They are relatively pessimistic, however, expecting to be mistreated by the world and are overly sensitive to criticism. They tend to find fault in others so they can appear to be stronger – to tear others down rather than building themselves up. Mistrustful people hold on to power, assign blame, and encourage secrecy. An organization OR a relationship led by a mistrustful individual tends to become a reflection of his or her individual personality. It can be successful IF the mistrustful individual is more often right than wrong in his or her misguided decisions BUT such a foundation tends to breed fear rather than freedom…suspicion rather than sharing.
  • Fearful individuals tend to be conservative, live by the rules, perform dutifully, and like to please others. They frequently, however, lack innovation and are so afraid of failure they would rather not act than do something perceived as wrong should it not be successful. Fearful people may WANT to move forward but constantly reign themselves back because they would rather "never have loved" than to have “loved and lost.” Relationships based on fear MAY be successful (little confrontation with single-minded focus) but rarely will they fully engage both participants nor fully leverage the contributions that all involved might have otherwise been able to make. 
  • Stubborn individuals can appear to be independent and freethinking. An optimist might paint them as being “dedicated” or “committed to their principles.” A realist might describe them as being procrastinators tending to work at their own pace, rarely changing direction or listening to the thoughts of others. Stubborn people often move forward NOT through their impeccable motivational skills but rather because they wear down their challengers by speaking incessantly without listening. It is one thing to take a “road less travelled” as long as you do not lose sight of your destination during the trip. It is altogether different, however, to simply hold out until everyone comes to your way of thinking – to wear them out rather than to work together to develop a mutually beneficial trail. 
  • Arrogant individuals often lead through charisma, confidence, and powers of persuasion. When pressured, they need recognition and “strokes,” frequently at the expense of those around them. They take all the credit for success and assign all the blame for failure. Feeling that they (personally) cannot fail, arrogant people surround themselves with agreeable people willing to sacrifice independence and a strong self-concept for the security of living a sheltered life within someone else’s shadow. Living (or working) within the shadow of arrogance may provide temporary relief from the heat of daily living but it will choke out individual growth – eventually stunting one’s potential much like a flower buried deep within a dark forest. 
  • Perfectionists are industrious, careful, and maintain high personal standards of performance – standards that may be too difficult for others to achieve or maintain. They can be relied upon to get things done, but must often do everything themselves to make sure it is done right (OR oversee others so tightly that they may find it difficult to breathe!). Their micro-management alienates others, causing staff to wait for specific directions (so that projects will not “be done incorrectly”) and personal relationships to languish (as equality is not a reasonable option). A perfectionist’s over-involvement may allow an organization to appear efficient and a relationship to seem fully functional for a short time BUT the truth will eventually set those involved free as one person cannot a kingdom build.
Because we are human, these characteristics reside within every one of us to one degree or another. Successful individuals tend to recognize their weaknesses and negative traits, pulling themselves (and those around them) forward in spite of their shortcomings. They compensate for inadequacies by relying on the strength of others. They acknowledge their own imperfections and draw upon other’s complimentary skills to overcome them. Great managers and builders of sound relationships are not immune from these negative characteristics – they simply rise above them by learning more about their own abilities (and inabilities) and about how the strengths of those around them can contribute to long-term success.

Mismanaging an organization’s resources often causes business to fail. Mismanagement of our personal lives and relationships may keep us from seeing our dreams brought to fruition. Become all that you were meant to be – and give back freely all that you have been given – by striving to achieve those proven characteristics we read great leaders possess while recognizing the negative characteristics that impact us all so we can avoid them to the best of our abilities.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


One of the greatest freedoms our country offers is the unrestricted right to express our opinion within the voting booth. Many feel that their single voice does not make a difference so they chose to muffle it by not voting – but when we do not speak, how can we claim victory (or complain when what we want is not implemented)? Choosing not to vote is a blatant disregard for the freedom we have to express our views within a system that all too often closes out the opinions of private citizens. Many individuals living elsewhere would (and are currently) fighting to have the rights we are freely given - yet many prefer to let others make decisions for them by failing to exercise their right to vote.

This November offers us the opportunity to participate in an election that might truly make a difference in our daily lives. Both parties are running on the plank of "change" this year. The fulfillment (or failure to fulfill) past promises does not seem to weigh heavily in this election. Newscasters seem to be creating news through intense analysis of what is being said and discussion about polls trying to form public opinion rather than simply reporting on what has happened. A lack of fact-based accomplishments are minimized while a plethora of opinion-based accusations and empty promises are maximized by the media - a group seeming to want to write history through strategic projection rather than report on what has happened. Whether a candidate speaks for the people or for the party seems not to matter this year – it is a year of transition in which opinions based on nothing but words and whispers might carry the day UNLESS we take our responsibility seriously and listen to what the candidates are saying this year as the elections near. As you approach this opportunity to express yourself, do not take it lightly.

Regardless of political affiliation, we all have the right to express our personal opinions within the voting booth. Far too many, however, forfeit their right to voice an opinion by withholding their vote in a form of “silent protest.” Of those voting, many act on the recommendation of a reporter, newscaster, friend, union, church or past history rather than upon solid information gathered through intelligent research. Look into each candidate’s accomplishments to verify their ability to deliver on campaign promises. Understand and make sure you can embrace their values before you support them as your elected official. Vote with your head this year – looking into each candidate and issue thoroughly for yourself so that you can make an informed decision.

This year's election offers two distinct choices - one being more emphasis on an individuals ability to create prosperity with less government support and programming, the other focusing more on increasing societal support through more and bigger government programs. The paths are as divergent as they can possibly be - built upon two drastically different visions for what our future should look like. Consider not only the hope and change promised this year by both parties but also how the words you hear can be brought to fruition - and whether the sacrifice needed to make them a reality makes sense OR is simply dust in the wind.

Your vote CAN make a difference (as can your NOT voting!). Rather than continuing to suffer in silence, let your actions shout from the voting booth! You may (or may not) end up being part of the solution but at least you will no longer be part of the problem. Do not remain a passive spectator to the action that is unfolding in front of you this November – be an active participant in the formation and implementation of life-changing agendas. Make sure you can make an informed choice on our leadership options and on our ballot agendas. Our country was built upon these unalienable rights - do not allow them to languish within a sea of neglect!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Pride becomes a driver for many as they seek to bring to fruition their internal perceptions while de-valuing the thoughts of others. Selfless actions can become the impetus for monumental change if performed unconditionally without anticipation or expectation of personal reward. As you interact with others, learn from those that act selflessly in their pursuit of success, not those that pursue success through their self-serving acts. Make sure the friends you keep will work unselfishly in keeping the friendship you share – you can give unconditionally when you know that another will protect your interests as deliberately as you protect theirs.

One can be morally and ethically strong when they act with selfless sincerity. When driven by the whims of pride it is much easier to portray moral and ethical weakness to those around you. We tend to become more like those we associate with than those we wish to be – reflecting the values of those around us while keeping the attitudes we might wish to portray hidden deeply within the shadows. These considerations apply not only to the way we lead and live but also to the decisions we make regarding the individuals elected to represent our interests. Consider what drives your thoughts to action as your intentional actions bring to fruition the thoughts and dreams you have established for yourself.

Pride can destroy relationships. When one “loves (or finds great comfort in) him- or herself,” there is often very little room left for anyone else. The feeling of self-advancement caused by caring for “number one” can cloud what might otherwise be an obvious choice – blurring an otherwise clear organizational direction. When pride elevates one above needing others, failure becomes not a matter of “if” but rather of “when.”

Strong, unselfish leaders learn how to resolve what they can, recognize what is beyond their personal capabilities, and seek help (with humility) in order to initiate change when it is beyond their personal control. When a leader focuses more on results than worrying about who receives the credit, great things can happen.

When we seek true leadership, consider the following:

Prideful leaders:

• Devalue the work and efforts of others

• Claim individual ownership of the team’s results

• Consistently puts his or her own welfare ahead of their team’s

• Have difficulty hearing others when they make suggestions or try to initiate change

• Think they “know everything,” failing to see the need to “learn anything new”

• Will begin to spiral towards obsolescence once they feel they have “arrived,” unless they continue to seek life’s lessons from the people, places and things around them

• Use deferral is an ally – if unable to shift fault to others they often remain silent (as if nothing had happened)

• Find it hard to say, “Thank you” or “I’m sorry” (as they are not truly grateful nor are they often reticent)

• Do not feel compelled to move onward, upward, or forward. They are often so content with “what is” they could care less about “what could be.”

• Often feel and act as though “above” the rules (which obviously control or apply to someone else).

Unselfish leaders:

• Act with consistency and reasonableness – treating everyone equitably based upon their contributions to the whole (as opposed to equally where everyone is the considered to be the same)

• Speak with sincerity when giving directions, suggestions or comments – taking the time to explain not only the “what” but also the “why” of each request

• Explain both the rewards of accomplishment and the results of failure – then help those working for them discover the road to success

• Allow themselves to be lifted “up the ladder” upon the outstretched hands of those around them rather than “climbing over them as if they were the rungs of a ladder on the way to the top”

• Watch and listen attentively to others, acting appropriately upon what is seen and heard

• Give credit when it is due and provide guidance when change is required. Accept blame for the mistakes for which they are ultimately responsible while helping others learn from (rather than being destroyed for) their failures.

If you claim credit individually while shifting the blame or deflecting criticism towards others, you may find yourself alone at the top – but will be standing precariously upon the unwilling backs of those you stepped over while rising. If you speak softly as you act loudly – praise generously while accepting accolades reluctantly – you will find yourself pulling others with you as you rise to the top.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I recently heard a speaker tell his audience to “be who you are because everyone else is already taken.” While he was speaking more to the tendency that individuals tend to blend into the environment in which they work and support the ideas expressed by those around them, I began to think of the ramifications his statement might have should we apply it to all aspects of our daily lives.

Would the world be different if transparency truly replaced the guarded face we typically present when interacting with others? If we were to transform the tolerance we often painfully exhibit when others are “not like us” into unconditional acceptance, would the world become a better place? If we could be more comfortable with who we are – readily exhibiting our strengths, acknowledging our shortcomings and intentionally acting to bring about positive change – might we more readily embrace the similarities and accept differences of those around us?

Accepting “who we are” does not imply we do not need to change. An individual is not a static point within a sedentary world. Rather, life “happens” and we must anticipate, respond and reply to the challenges it presents. Being “who you are” today does not mean you should be the same tomorrow – nor does it assume you are the same as you were yesterday. It means we should accept our skills, abilities, values, ethics, standards and persona as they are today so we can build upon them as we move towards a better tomorrow. While we can express happiness for another’s accomplishments we should not seek to establish our own sense of worth through their successes. We can learn from the experience of others but should not claim their success as our own nor seek to avoid all personal failure. Much growth can come from overcoming a personal defeat or shortcoming. While we can seek to be like those we respect, we must never reject who we are by attempting to become that which we are not by trying to transform into someone that exists only within our own imagination.

To become all that we can be we must first accept all that we are so we can move beyond the limitations of our present reality into the unlimited realm of possibility. We cannot fulfill our own potential when we are so busy immersing ourselves in the accomplishments of others that we have no time to enjoy our own successes. Do not dwell upon the things you do not have – carefully weigh your true needs (rather than "wants") then take intentional action to acquire those things that are truly important. Rather than worrying about the things you cannot yet do or the ideas you have yet to express, celebrate those things you CAN accomplish and the value of the thoughts you routinely bring to fruition. When we truly accept ourselves as being able to initiate change while acknowledging there are some things we are not yet to be able to accomplish – refusing to be content until we have done all that is possible to fulfill our own potential – we will find that "being ourselves" is not a bad thing. Perhaps it is good that "all the others are already taken" because our world needs them to compliment who we already are and to support who we have yet to become!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


With September’s arrival, we face a “return to reality” from the “lazy, hazy days of summer” to an abrupt re-entry into the working world. As we transition from what was once a slower time (though we have seen more work and less play making many people a bit touchy the past couple of years) to a more active fall, some thoughts that might help you transition from “personal time” to “corporate commitments” might include:

Never try to be someone you are not. Many individuals return to work with fresh “resolutions” to do something (or be something) different. Unless there is more gain from the change, however, than pain from NOT changing, such mid-stream corrections rarely prove effective. People change very little once they have established their basic values, patterns and thought processes. It is often easier (and more effective) to leverage an individual’s strengths than it is to try to change their shortcomings.

One must first imagine something as being a possibility before it can become a probability – yet "Dreams take time, patience, sustained effort, and a willingness to fail if they are ever to be anything more than dreams." (Bryan Linkoski). While “failure” is not usually a desired outcome, dreamers often focus their DESIRE to change around the real possibility that they may not (at first) taste success. Robert F. Kennedy said, "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." Individuals whom have truly made a difference in this world understand that failing to try is far worse than trying but failing. Much intentional thought and deliberate action is required to succeed at any endeavor. Failure is allowing a mistake to become a destination rather than a stepping-stone. If thoughts and dreams are to become reality, the word “impossible” must not exist.

Life is a series of starts and stops – of closed chapters and of new beginnings. If we are to see change as we move from one season to another, it is important that we not only recognize the need for altered behavior but that we also intentionally ACT if we expect behavior to change. Knowing facts and understanding how change happens does not insure transformation. Will Rogers appropriately stated, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

As summer ends – and the seasons of life begin anew – perhaps we could gain from the wisdom of Mark Twain who said "Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first." We are not “owed” success – we must first seek it then INTENTIONALLY ACT to make it become a reality. Make this the season of change by thinking big and acting audaciously without fear of failure – then incorporating the lessons learned into the inevitable success that will follow.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I learned much during a recent trip to Washington – perhaps some that I would have preferred NOT to learn as well.  The random thoughts (and the reactions they generated) would include the following:

Welfare is no longer available to the American people.  The government has, instead, established the acronym TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), a new program that seeks to increase the minimum wage and provide a safety net for all.  Poverty related to PLACE (poverty due to an individual’s state because of short-term or temporary situations) is an issue that TANF should address and eliminate.  Generational poverty (long-term “handed down” from generation to generation) is a long-term issue that will not be eliminated through TANF as it must be addressed through yet to be developed behavioral transformation.
Can one legislate personal choice or mandate personal responsibility?  In our attempt to provide help to those “without,” are we weakening their resolve to become self-reliant by creating a dependency on the solution?
In regards to healthcare, 100% ACCESS with 0% DISPARITY does not mean we attain 100% EQUITY with no INEQUALITY.  We all have different gifts that, when utilized, result in different rewards proportionate to how much the individual contribution improves the whole.
We tend to focus upon the RESULTS without considering the IMPLEMENTATION.  We see where we are and visualize where we want to be BUT spend far too little time thinking about the ramifications of “getting there.”
When did individual and unalienable rights trump the requirement of individual responsibility?  Why must the few be required to provide for the many with no expectation of a fair and honest “return” on their investment?  How far will the “10% that pay 90% of the taxes” be willing to carry the increasingly heavy burden placed upon them without dropping the load?
I find it hard to understand the logic expressed by one of our elected officials when told, “we should not worry about the cost of the affordable care act as 97% will be paid by the Federal Government and only 3% will be paid for by the people.”  I found it more difficult to understand why such a statement received a standing ovation from the audience.

Perhaps the government should get back to its “workman-like” roots.  Saying “it is done” does not make it so.  Saying “it will be done” does not mean that it CAN be readily accomplished.  Saying “I will do all that I can,” however, and following through with the absolute best effort you can invest means all that could have been done was – that every possible avenue was addressed – so that even if the result is temporary failure you can move on with a clear conscience as the next mountain to be climbed is addressed.

This is an important year.  We have an upcoming National Election that may set the course upon which our nation will travel.  Regardless of your political beliefs, affiliations or leanings, take the time to learn about the candidates and their views.  Do not listen to radical conservatives or outspoken liberals as they express their opinions – study to form your own!  Take the next several months to immerse yourself in the information provided through electronic media and other readily available information sites.  Form your own opinion on each individual’s views and philosophies.

Do not vote for a party - vote for an individual’s ideals and beliefs.  Take the time to address some of the “issues” that have become talking points at most any social gathering by “talking with your vote.”  Whatever way you choose to vote, make sure that your voice becomes a viable part of the solution rather than simply a complaint about the results!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


We live in times of transition – times when the only constant is change itself.  In such times, is it best to seek change at any cost OR approach it with caution, looking before we leap?  How much should we consider what we already have before seeking those things we wish we could have?  We may not know the road upon which we wish to travel or realize a final destination in advance of our journey BUT only by acknowledging we are not where we want to be will we ever become more than we currently are.  Accepting what we are as being full and complete will discourage us from becoming what we have yet to become.

Does the reason we change make a difference or should we consider any change positive?  Before leaping towards change, make sure you consider what you are leaving, why you are leaving it, what you wish to accomplish by initiating change and how you plan to proceed once you have your new goal in sight.  You will find that change is a process rather than an event – a journey rather than a destination – so once initiated it is often difficult to return to your beginnings.  Regardless of whether the change you are considering is personal or professional in nature, consider the following:

LOOK TO BUILD UPON YOUR STRENGTHS IDENTIFY AND ELIMINATE YOUR WEAKNESSES.  When discussing change, many say their boss is intolerable, the environment oppressive, the work is not what they thought, a partner is not what he/she once was – the list is endless.  Unless one seeks to identify (and accept) his or her role in each negative, however, it is difficult to create lasting change.  Before blaming someone else for a bad situation, examine what role YOU may have played in its becoming tarnished and consider how YOU might be able to help restore the luster.  Creating lasting change involves more than simply starting over - it requires us to end or alter behaviors before beginning anew.

ISOLATE (AND ADDRESS) THE NEGATIVES WITHIN YOUR CURRENT SITUATION TO AVOID BUILDING THEM INTO YOUR NEXT OPPORTUNITY.   We often find the things we dislike most have little to do with our duties, responsibilities or actual day-to-day activities.  Many times the “things” driving us to distraction are environmental, people we work with, the level of responsibility (or lack of responsibility) we are given (or assume), the boss, the lack of attention we are receiving (without thought about the fulfillment we receive) – the list of “dislikes” could go on forever.  If these are the reasons for change, make sure to resolve them before transitioning to something else.  Before taking action to disrupt your existence, make sure that it needs disrupting!  A relatively minor issue should not force you into giving something up that you otherwise enjoy.

IDENTIFY WHAT YOU LIKE NOW AND WHAT YOU WANT TO BE DIFFERENT WHEN SEEKING CHANGE.  Few people dwell upon what they like most about their situation – rather they carry on endlessly about what is “bad” about it.  If seeking a new job, people tend to seek positions having a similar title.  Individuals able to accomplish change tend to identify and build upon their proven abilities as they transition from one place to the next, leveraging what they HAVE rather than dwelling upon what they do not have or wish to achieve.  One should never run FROM something when initiating change but rather TOWARDS an alternative destination that provides a better environment in which to utilize your strengths.

When seeking change it is important that we run towards opportunity rather than away from failure.  We tend to see the neighbor’s “greener grass” as we ignore our own lawn’s possibilities.  We see the results of another’s effort before fully investigating our own potential.  The precursor of change should be determining what you like most about what you are now doing and building upon that foundation.  Why focus on those things you do not like when seeking a new opportunity rather than searching for those alternatives that would provide you more fulfillment?  Unless we can determine "what is in it for me," why would we begin to seek anything different from what we currently have?

We are often more comfortable doing what we have always done – and blaming others for what is not to our liking.  Those seeking change must act intentionally to do things in a manner that will allow for different results.  ONLY when we are willing to walk away from the world we know to enter one we can only imagine by leveraging the strengths we possess rather than those we wish we had will we be able to realize change – for until we can embrace the effects of change we cannot initiate it.

Monday, August 6, 2012


INTENDED actions (those things we think about doing but have not acted upon) often result in UNINTENTIONAL consequences. INTENTIONAL actions, however, produce INTENDED consequences. Should we wish to change the direction and/or course of our lives we must do more than think about what we should do – we must put into action our intentions.

When we intend to do something but do not get around to acting upon our intentions, we have nobody but ourselves to blame when an outcome is other than what we might expect. Intending to leave early for a meeting does not guarantee we will arrive on time (should we actually leave ten minutes late). Intending to work hard around the house does not mow the lawn (until we intentionally start the lawn mower). Intending to get good grades in school does not assure us of a stellar grade point average (should we choose not to study). Intending to visit a shut-in friend or relative does not constitute support (until we invest our time and efforts to do so). Our best intentions are just that – thoughts not put into actions. Whenever we think we SHOULD do something we choose not to (for whatever reason), we are creating an “intended action.” When we intentionally act on our intentions, however – when we examine the alternatives and intentionally bring to fruition an action, we often change the course of our (or someone else’s) life.

When we choose to help another out of a jam (rather than wishing them well) we make a difference in the lives of those around us. Caution should be taken that such help does not become enabling. We should teach those around us how to manage their problems so they might be avoided rather than hiding from them by seeking outside intervention. We will not change anything until we choose to act no matter how noble and honorable our intentions. Action might translate into finding a program or class, securing employment (or new employment), seeking guidance from a knowledgeable resource or moving from your “comfort zone” into new and unfamiliar territory. Regardless, a conscious decision to take intentional action must occur – even if to intentionally and knowingly avoid acting – in order for “change” to happen. We cannot travel a new road until we first INTEND to move then put that intention into action by venturing forward.

We cannot change our (or another’s) future – contribute to anyone’s good – until we CHOOSE to act – to either consciously change or intentionally maintain the status quo. Simply failing to act can be an expression of good intentions – a hollow consideration that will not typically produce a reasonable consequence. Choosing to act (or not to act), however, will result in intended (or at least anticipated) consequences.

Do not let yourself live a life of unintended consequences. Do what you say, say what you do – or what you intend to do – then ACT. Validate your good intentions by bringing them to fruition through focused, intentional action - then move deliberately forward towards the accomplishment of your dreams.

Monday, July 30, 2012


We celebrate individual accomplishment every four years during an event called “The Olympics.” While national pride is important and camaraderie seems to be the “glue” holding athletics together, individual training, hard solitary work, unwavering dedication and selfless sacrifice – along with God-given talent – elevate the individuals competing for gold, silver and bronze from “the rest of the world.” In a world too often filled with “appealing to the masses” and “elevating the whole,” rewards for “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” have been minimized – a sad testimony that the voice of the individual has succumbed to the shouts of the people.

Business leaders have the ability to leverage the talents of others – bringing together diverse thoughts, abilities and cultures – to generate success by focusing individuals to accomplish a single goal. Coaches have the ability to maximize the contributions of individuals – highlighting their strengths and compensating for their weaknesses – in order to bring the team glory. Politicians are able to motivate the majority – identifying and speaking to the needs of a diverse electorate – as they seek to carry out their Party platform (often to the detriment of their individual beliefs). Teachers must bring enough of the class to a minimum level of proficiency so that test scores reflect grade-level expectations. Few, however, develop “the gifted” to their full potential because they are too busy bringing up those not yet meeting standards to reward those exceeding them - too busy focusing upon the needs of the whole to satisfy those of the individual.

While “the power of team” is an important component within today’s world, I would venture that the “power of the individual” is far more critical. Teams carry the burden but individuals often identify the path upon which they must travel. A group can come together to identify a workable solution but an individual often states the problem needing resolution. A team can win a war but victory would not be possible were it not for a multitude of individual “wins” and a similar number of personal “losses.”

It is refreshing to land upon an island of individuality when sailing the seas of mediocrity – to find a venue that acknowledges and rewards the achievements of a dedicated individual facing insurmountable odds rather than making excuses for his or her failure to compete. The Olympics focuses upon ideals we once held true – that hard work and dedication will pay off in the end. We see the dreams and aspirations of individual athletes either brought to fruition OR dashed upon a rocky shore – either celebrated in victory or shattered beyond all recognition.

We celebrate individual accomplishment during this event, but why should we stop when the Olympics have concluded? Refuse to believe that someone else is responsible for your success. Every individual makes a conscious decision to apply their unique talents and abilities towards the solution of a problem OR to let them lie dormant, becoming a part of the problem themselves. Refuse to accept that you must give more just because you can. We are a society founded not upon “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” Rather we were told that anyone could become anything - the only limitation being our individual abilities and how hard we worked to apply them as we sought to support our individual needs.

Celebrate the Olympic spirit this week as you immerse yourself in the individual accomplishments of a unique and talented group of people – then reach deeply into yourself to identify that same individual quality. Work selflessly to bring it to fruition in all you do and say and you, too, will be considered a champion.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


When we are satisfied with what we have and where we are in life, we tend to cling tightly to who we are and what we have become. We find comfort in the familiar without feeling the need for change. Should you be so fortunate, this Deliberation is not for your consideration. You have attained what you sought by choosing carefully the roads you travelled. You have arrived at the destination you planned, surrounded yourself with people that support your dreams, and found happiness where you landed. Many, however, would seek to change. Not knowing how or where to begin, however, they choose to do nothing – living life in the fringes rather than fulfilling their true promise.

If you could do anything you in the world – be anything at all – what would you chose? Would want to be what you now are if you could re-do the decisions that formed your life and values or would you make different choices that might lead to a different outcome? Would you study the same things or choose a different career path? Would you prefer to be a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a professional athlete, a business manager, a politician? Would you be a laborer having to make few decisions, finding fulfillment in hard manual efforts that let you leave the worries of the day behind when your work was finished? Would you want to make a fortune or live a meager, earning only enough to satisfy your basic needs? Would you live in a larger home or seek a smaller residence? Would you seek to live in an urban community or a rural neighborhood? Would you keep the friends you have or would you seek a different support group?

We all make decisions – whether they are calls to action or an unconscious choice of inaction. Our lives are a result of the thoughts we had and the choices we made in the past. What we are results directly from the choices we made when we were growing up BUT it does not mean we cannot change or alter what we might wish to become. A train does not go from one station to another by standing still. Likewise, our station in life will not change until we take intentional action to move us from where we are towards where we wish to be.

If we recognize what we are and acknowledge what we prefer to be or do, what stops us from moving towards our dreams? For some it is a fear of the unknown. For others it may be a fear of succeeding and the responsibilities that success brings. Many fear change, somehow feeling that what is “known and comfortable” – though perhaps not the most desirable – is better than what might be ahead should they seek something different. Unless you seek an outcome that you are not physically or mentally capable of bringing to fruition (change MUST be realistic!), a fear of something or someone is what usually keeps us from being all we can be or doing all we can do.

What keeps you from changing – from moving beyond where you are to a place you would rather be? Are you afraid to leave the comfort of “what is” to face the fears of an unknown “what could be?” It is true that if we do not set goals we will never fail. Should we fail to understand what must be changed in order to transform ourselves into something different, however, we will never become what we might wish to be because we will remain what we always were.

Recognizing and acknowledging who we are is a good thing – but accepting that reality as an end rather than a beginning can stifle any growth you might wish to experience – can relegate you to the life you have rather than what you might prefer. When one actively seeks what they wish to find – without fears or apprehensions – they will realize what they seek – without restriction or limitation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


There are several ways to react when opportunity knocks. Some will seek to shift the blame, excusing themselves from any responsibility for the challenges that life placed before them. They prefer the “easy road” to all the destinations they might choose to visit, finding that “taking the hard road” might be OK – but for someone else. Rarely will you find a risk taker within the ranks of those wishing to travel but paved paths. You would not often find an individualist willing to embrace the bad as a precursor for the good among those seeking “all gain with no pain.” Often those seeking to rise to the top upon the backs of others want all they might ever need without working for it – expecting the same fruits that others enjoy simply because they share the same space and breathe the same air.

Those who seek to accomplish much without giving any are often dreamers whose great expectations and plans are not destined to be realized. They refuse to put forth more than minimal effort to achieve exceptional rewards. They are unrealistic in seeking all that is good without extending from “what is” to “what could be.” Should opportunity knock upon their door it most likely would be turned away rather than embraced. Should it beckon it would be considered a wrong number rather than accepted as a legitimate call.

Others seek to immerse themselves in the issue – becoming an indispensable part of the solution rather than an integral part of the problem. They move forward with measured abandon – seeking paths not yet imagined as they travel upon roads not yet improved. They seek to live out their being as more than simply existing.

These are the gentle giants of this land – accomplishing much because they sacrifice all, seeking all because they hold nothing back. Should opportunity present itself to these they would ask “why not?” rather than focusing upon “why?” They see a hill rather than a mountain. They see a temporary detour rather than a permanent closure. They not only see where they wish to be and envision what they wish to become, they INVEST themselves in making those things become reality. It is these whom are responsible for not only their own growth BUT for the growth of others – not only for their own accomplishments but also for the success of many.

When opportunity knocks, you can ignore it, consciously turn it away or proceed with a resolution. You can embrace it and work diligently to answer its call or hope that it will simply go away – or that someone else will invest the time and energy needed to resolve it. Reach out and open the door when opportunity knocks for you may not be given a second chance should you turn a deaf ear upon the first.

We often see but the surface of opportunity when reality it is a deep inviting pool awaiting our entrance. Take the plunge – you will find that awaiting you is far greater than what you currently enjoy. Reaching the goal may be an accomplishment of huge proportion BUT “getting there” is often more than half the fun.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


We often receive an unexpected boost from motivational quotes. Many originate within the world of sports BUT life is more than playing games – it is about dreaming what could be if only that which is could become more than anything we could imagine. It is about reaching beyond our wildest expectations to grasp a slice of reality from a pie not yet created. It is about setting goals beyond what is achievable so that we force ourselves outside of the box in which we are comfortable and move towards things yet to be considered. We all stumble and fall while travelling through life – the difference between success and failure being whether we stay down or we get back up.

Dreams take time, patience, sustained effort, and a willingness to fail if they are ever to become anything more than dreams – Brian Linkoski

It may be that those who DO the most, DREAM the most – Stephen Leacock

We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from it – William Osler

It's the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top - Robert M Pirsig

The greater danger for most is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it - Michelangelo

We know what we are, but know not what we may be? - William Shakespeare

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls while others build windmills - Chinese proverb

There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we seek results and conclusions rather than recognition and credit. We can find ongoing satisfaction when we claim success during the journey – acknowledging each step taken as we run the race – rather than waiting until our quest has ended. We accomplish many things not yet imagined and bring to fruition countless things not previously realized as we seek to fulfill our dreams. Celebrate each accomplishment along the way rather than looking past your journey to find fulfillment only in reaching your destination.

While there is no “one size fits all” motivational solution, we cannot allow our eyes to wander from the prize if we seek to move from being “good” to being “great.” Though it may not “take a village” to raise our self-awareness, it DOES take commitment, determination and intentional action to move beyond the storms that often darken our lives to the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Think about how these thoughts might help change YOUR life – might make a difference in your perspective – then “like” this BLOG and comment by adding a favorite guiding principle of your own.