Sunday, October 8, 2017

In Pursuit Of Happiness

Chester was a tiny little dog. He was excited to start puppy school, but he was also nervous because he had no idea what trade he wanted to pursue.  
After months of waiting, he finally realized he wanted to be a guard dog. 

"Chester’s mom had given him all of the time in the world to choose what trade he wanted to learn. But her patience was wearing thin.  
Chester, have you decided what you want to do with your life? All of your brothers and sisters have already gone off to pup school and graduated. Why are you taking so long to blossom?” asked his mother. 

“Mom, I want to be a guard dog,” Chester blurted out.  
“Honey, you’re so small. You can't be a guard dog; you'll get eaten alive.” remarked Chester’s mother. 

This lit a fire under Chester. He was determined to pursue his road to happiness, no matter how long and hard the journey may be. “Mom, I’ve made up my mind. I am going to be a guard dog,” said Chester before he skipped away.  
The very next morning, he enrolled in pup school as a guard dog. His classmates were German Shepherds, Pit Bulls and only the toughest dogs. But Chester felt confident in his ability to succeed. 

When he got home from school, Chester would exercise to build up his strength. It was tough, but he stuck to his guns. He knew he could do it. 
At his final examination, he had to run an obstacle course in under 45 seconds. And, because of his hard work and small size, he was able to complete the obstacle course in 20 seconds!  

Against all odds, Chester became a guard dog. 

Initially, Chester’s fear of failure kept him from pursuing his dream of being a guard dog. And, when he finally worked up the courage to follow his passion, he was criticized. Nonetheless, Chester stuck to his guns and achieved exactly what he set out to do.  
He pursued his happiness and won.  Surely, you’ve encountered a situation where your lack of confidence has stopped you from chasing something you know you would love to do. However, if you don’t even try, you've already lost the battle. 

Maybe you couldn’t give that executive your elevator pitch because you thought he wouldn’t spare a second to talk to you. Or you may have even opted for a “safe” college major rather than what you truly love to do.  It’s important to remember that every day is an opportunity to succeed. And pursuing your happiness can effectively be done just one step at a time. 

If you want to be a doctor someday, the first step is showing up to class. If you want to work as a bridal consultant, the first step is handing out resumes.  Once you take the first step, once you get up off the couch, the steps that follow seem to fall into place!

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Class Project

Jimmy was having fun playing video games in his room, not worrying at all about his science project that was due in two days. 

Mrs. Peterson had assigned it last week. At first, he had intended to do the project, but a couple of days after it was assigned, Mrs. Peterson was absent, and they had a substitute teacher. So he decided to put it off until Mrs. Peterson came back.  
But she hadn’t come back all week! And now here he was with nothing to show for himself. Even so, he still wasn’t too worried about it – the substitute hadn’t mentioned the science project at all. So Jimmy played some more and went to bed. 
The next day, Jimmy walked into science class to find Mrs. Peterson sitting at her desk. He felt his heart sink. 
“I’m sorry I was away so long,” she said. “But I hope you all have been working on your science projects. I’m really looking forward to seeing them tomorrow.” 
When he got home from school, Jimmy got to work frantically, trying to put together a project. He stayed up very, very late. Finally, he had something he could turn in, though the measurements were rushed and the project had come out all wrong.  
Jimmy got his project back a week later with a big red D written on the front, then his mom took away all his video games. 
Poor Jimmy! Losing all that sleep and his video games, too! But what’s a kid to do? His teacher was gone all week... 
We can always find excuses for putting off the things we need to do. We’re missing a person on the team, the instructions weren’t clear, we have other projects that take priority, the deadline is a long way away – the list can go on and on. 
But the truth is circumstances may never be ideal for anything. 
If we use excuses and justifications to avoid beginning important projects, we’ll always deliver a mediocre performance.  
Procrastination is defined as putting things off that you should be doing now. We all do it from time to time, but when it becomes a way of life, we shortchange ourselves and never become the person we can be. 
Why do we procrastinate? We can convince ourselves with any number of excuses. We’re waiting for the right mood, or the right time, or we don’t know how to start, so we just don’t do anything.  
It’s helpful to take a real honest look at yourself:  
Why do you put things off that you know you should be doing?  
Is there a lack of a clear goal?  
Do you need to strengthen your decision-making skills?  
Are you a perfectionist?  
Do you have a fear of failure? 
Once you’ve pinpointed those reasons for putting things off, eliminate them from your life! Don’t allow excuses and justifications to keep you from becoming the best leader, parent, or partner you can be. 
Ensure your success by beginning tasks promptly and eliminating procrastination from your life. Doing so is a major step to becoming a productive person, a reliable friend, and an honorable partner. 
More things to ask yourself: 
Do I make excuses for putting off projects I should be working on? 
What is the root cause of my procrastination? 
How can I plan to finish tasks on time without the panic of a last minute rush?

Monday, September 18, 2017

In The Dark

Gary stepped outside and knew at once that it was going to be one of those terrible days.  Everything was dark and gloomy, like a thunderstorm was only moments away.  But it was strange – the weather reporter had said the day would be sunny.
Gary continued on to his favorite coffee shop.  Inside the coffee shop, the lights were dim, as if some bulbs had burned out.  He thought, “What kind of lousy restaurant doesn’t change the light bulbs when they go out?”   
Gary sat down and looked at the menu, but the dim lighting was making him more and more depressed.  When the waitress came by to take his order, Gary ordered his food, but he stopped her as she started walking back to the kitchen.
“Why don’t you guys fix some of these light bulbs? It’s so dark in here.  Do you think your customers like to eat in the dark?” Gary, whose mood had gotten progressively worse since he left the house, spoke angrily and a little too loudly.
“But sir,” the waitress said, looking confused, “No bulbs are burned out here.  You’re wearing sunglasses.”
Gary pulled his glasses off.  It was true!  He had grabbed the wrong pair of glasses out of his dresser drawer.   He apologized to her and made sure to leave a big tip.
What an eye opener! Isn’t it true that the fault we find in the world around us can often be traced back to what’s inside ourselves? It’s so easy to project our problems onto others when taking ownership of the issues would actually help us solve them much more quickly.
How often do we try to make a spouse or a roommate change behaviors, to no avail? We all know we can’t change others! We can encourage and persuade, but we can’t make people do anything we wish. 
Knowing this truth, we ought to be able to see how counterproductive it is to get irritated by things going on around us. We automatically think those problems are someone else’s responsibility when we already have the power to stop the irritation!
Just like Gary in the story, when we think problems belong to someone else, we spend a lot of time grumbling and complaining that those people won’t fix their issues. We go around in a rotten mood and make things miserable for those around us. 
Now contrast that unhappy picture with someone who takes responsibility for his own unhappiness. “Am I a part of the problem or the solution?” a wise person might ask. When things aren’t going well, the key is to stop and think about your attitudes and actions.

Blaming others keeps us from finding solutions to the root cause of the issue. Taking responsibility and examining our weaknesses, mistakes or contributions to the problem allow us to take positive action toward improvements.
Self-reflection lets us take off the sunglasses and put on the clear lenses. Maybe there are still a few bulbs in the restaurant that need to be changed, but at that point, we’ve done everything we can to improve the situation on our own.
Sometimes we can do a whole lot to improve a situation, and sometimes not so much. But taking ownership and moving forward always makes us happier than blaming others and waiting for them to change. Blaming others is automatically a recipe for frustration!
Questions to ask:
Are there issues in my life where I’m blaming others for things not going well?
What am I doing that may be contributing to the problem?
Is my perspective causing my own unhappiness?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Check Out Your Squirrel Nests

We have a lot of oak trees around our house and sometimes it looks like a squirrel paradise. Squirrels are always racing around the yard and sneaking up on the deck. They can be pesky at times but for the most part they are fun to watch.

I've seen their nests for years up in the trees and always wondered about stuff like what they're made of, how deep it is, and how many squirrels can share a nest. One day I stopped wondering and got out the ladder to check one out up close.

It was fun peeking inside the nest and noticing how they had weaved the sticks and leaves together. The nest was empty but still I didn't touch it with my hands, I didn't want them to know I had been spying on them. But I did give it a good look over.  I think it made me appreciate my squirrel friends a little more. 
It also got me to thinking that I, you, and all of us, have many "squirrel nests" in our lives that we have never stopped and peeked inside.  Maybe we should slow down and take five minutes or so to explore some of the things in our lives that we have took for granted so many times. You never know what you might find or where it might take you.  Explore and Learn.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Few Older but Good Quotes

"Laughter is an instant vacation." - Milton Berle

"They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them." -Mahatma Gandhi

"Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday." -Author Unknown

"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." -Winston Churchill

"Patience is the ability to count down before you blast off." - Author Unknown

"Freedom lies in being bold." -Robert Frost

"The purpose of life is a life of purpose." -Robert Byrne

"Friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million little things." -Author Unknown

"Don't find fault. Find a remedy." Henry Ford

"We don't show up FOR work, we show up TO work."-Unknown 

"If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will." - Abraham Lincoln

"The doors of wisdom are never shut." - Benjamin Franklin

"You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want." -Zig Ziglar "

"Minds are like parachutes, they only function when open." - Unknown

"A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams." -John Barrymore

"In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." - Theodore Roosevelt

"The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago-the second best time is now." - Confucius

"You say I started out with practically nothing, but that isn't correct. We all start with all there is. It's how we use it that makes things possible." - Henry Ford

"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." - Abraham Lincoln

Friday, September 1, 2017

Opportunity Knocking

Many like to sit back and wait for an opportunity to come knocking. Unfortunately, wishing for opportunities doesn’t make them happen. You must look for possibilities in your life and strive to make something happen when you find them.

Recognizing opportunities when they show up, and creating your own opportunities, are the best ways to achieve success. If you give yourself the chance, you may find that there’s an opportunity knocking on every door.  

Don’t wait for someone else to find opportunities for you. Learn to recognize opportunities and take action promptly.  Be open to answering the call when new opportunities present itself.

Like Milton Berle once said:  "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door."

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Lemonade Stand

The Lemonade Stand

The story of a thinker and a doer

One day Jimmy asked Sally if she would like to help him set up a lemonade stand during the upcoming garage sale. Sally was a very creative girl. She had a lot of ideas and she set right to work.

“We need a big sign – what should we call ourselves?” she said. “Should we set it up by the street or by the garage?”

Sally had a million questions:

Homemade lemonade or made from a mix?

Regular or pink lemonade?

What size should the cups be?

Paper or plastic?

Would Jimmy mind if they sold the lemonade in pink cups?

How much would they charge?

She had learned how to make brownies last week; should they sell brownies too?

What if some people are on a diet; should they also sell sugar-free lemonade?

What if someone just wants water?

What if someone likes it sweeter?

What if… 

What if… 

As they talked, it got late. The “what ifs” never seemed to end. They still hadn’t finished going through all the details, but Jimmy had to go home for dinner. 

The next day, Jimmy got up early. Without worrying about Sally’s million questions, he wrote a simple supply list and went with his mom to the grocery store. He bought cups, lemons, sugar, ice, and a poster board.

He made some lemonade, wrote “Lemonade – 50 cents” on the poster board, and set it all up on a little table during the garage sale.

He sold a lot of lemonade that day. In fact, he made enough money to invite Sally to the movies that afternoon.

Are you one of those people who get so caught up in all the details that you can’t get started on a project? Are you surrounded by people like that?

Like Jimmy, you’ll accomplish the most when you can focus on the core plan, consider the most important details, and then take decisive action.

Being creative and thinking of new ideas is a great quality for brainstorming sessions. When planning out where you want to be in five years and what you’d like to accomplish, it’s great to think in big and broad terms!

But when it comes to an effective course of action, here’s the best plan:

Decide which of your possibilities makes the most sense right now.

Get rid of the fluff.  Take action, tackling one detail at a time.

When we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the details, we become paralyzed into a state of inaction and hopelessness. We then lose sight of the big picture.

When you feel that a project is becoming too cumbersome and may never get off the ground, it may be time to reflect on the question: “What is my big picture?”

Once you refocus on your greater purpose, you can work on the important details first, then grow as necessary.  Bogging yourself down with an overly complicated plan only opens the doors to procrastination and failure. Don’t let the fine details overwhelm you and keep you from achieving your goals! Throw out those extraneous details and organize the important ideas, taking one step at a time.