Archive for October, 2010

Vision – Belief – And a Walk on the Moon

October 28th, 2010 4 comments

The 1960s, was an unforgettable time.  The age of Aquarius, free love, flower power, hippies, and the death of a beloved President. In November of 1963, we lost our President John F. Kennedy, to an assassin’s bullet.  But, before he died, he sold us his vision.  It started out as  only a dream. He made us believe.  We, as a nation, were going to be the first ones to land on the moon. The competition was stiff.  The Russians wanted the title for their nation.

I was a small child at that time, but it was such an exciting dream!  We all bought into it.  President Kennedy said we could do this, and we believed him.

Every space flight that flew was injected into our lives and our classrooms via TV. We watched mesmerized by the grainy images on those tiny, black and white Television sets.  We knew all the astronauts by name.  We felt close to them, as if they were our neighbor down the street. They were our heroes! Every little boy wanted to become one. We were a nation with a mission! We were the United States.  We could do anything!

When I look back on those days, I am amazed that it was accomplished. The computers aboard those space crafts had less capacity than the cell phones we, all, carry in our pockets.  There wasn’t such a thing as Windows or Apple.  Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were still little boys.  Why did we succeed?


To accomplish any big dream in our lives, we must have a willingness to believe.  To suspend the disbelief, and seriously ask ourselves, “what if”.


This means taking complete responsibility for our lives. As Mark Joyner says, “the if only loop is a prison of your own design”. How true. Take a moment to think of your personal “if onlys”. “If only I hadn’t lost my job”, “if only I had more money”, “if only ____ loved me more”.  When we continue to support these thoughts by thinking them over and over again, it becomes a belief.  At that point, we have successfully locked ourselves into a failure loop. We must learn to let it go.


We as a nation could not have reached the moon if President Kennedy had not created a new empowering story for us. It was exciting and fueled us. It created an empowering identity for us. We can do this for our own lives. Accomplishing a dream has to be fed by a empowering story.  The retelling of it, daily, builds a new confidence. If we keep telling the empowering story, we will own it.


This should be our vision for now, and beyond. Is Bill Gates’ vision the same, now, as it was the day he quit college? As we project ourselves forward into the future our vision grows in direct proportion to the belief in our growing vision. It happens as we build upon our successes.

In the early 60s, we as a nation, focused on walking on the moon.  Without that focus, we wouldn’t have  space shuttles, the Hubble Telescope, many new wonder drugs, and Star Trek.  We have now visited our distant neighbors in space with unmanned probes.  We know so much more about ourselves and our Universe because we dared to believe in a  dream.

We, humans, are amazing creatures.  If we can see it, believe, we can do it!  What ever the mind can see, and believe, it can accomplish.  It is as simple as that.  Only you know if you have “the right stuff”.

Our Belief Systems – Rain Coats or Rainbows?

October 27th, 2010 4 comments

Life never ceases to amaze me.  In our darkest hours we can have our biggest triumphs. The most fabulous thing is, we get to choose how to experience our lives.  We get to decide what is good in our lives and what is bad.  It is our own belief systems which allows us to chose to accept our adversities as misfortune, or as the biggest blessing that has ever been bestowed upon us.

We don’t get a choice on whether we will experience pain in our lives.  It comes in the package labeled “life”.  What we do have a choice of is how we will see the pain.  Will it be a burden to be endured?  Or, is it possible to see it as a gift?

I know in my own life, the times of greatest pain have become my biggest blessings. Is it Pollyanna-ish to decide to live our lives looking for the best lesson our pain has to offer?

Crap drops into every one’s lives.  We can be engulfed in what we perceive as a mega poop storm. It’s our belief system which makes the decision about the poop’s importance.  We can shake our fist at it with vile curses.  We can rant and rave about how unfortunate our life is.  We can try to get all the sympathy we can from our fellow life travelers.  Or, we can suck it up and look for the flowers in our life which will grow bigger, healthier, and more colorful from the fertilizer.

In a perfect world, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone jump in and save us from every bad thing which could befall us.  We could slide through life free and easy without a care in the world.  We all know, this isn’t going to happen.  Even if it could happen, would that be the wisest thing?

Adversity makes us strong.  It teaches us life lessons.  It gives us something to use for comparisons.  How could we, possibly, know how wonderful it feels to have the sun on our faces if we had never felt the cold?  If we never felt sadness or depression, would we appreciate happiness?

Next time we are engulfed in our own personal poop storm, are we going to be looking for our rain coat because the storm will be bad?  What if we look for the rainbow, because it only happens after a storm.  It’s our choice!

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Why Can’t We Be Our Children’s Heroes?

October 26th, 2010 3 comments

Raising children, in this day and age, has its challenges.  The days of our heroes being cowboys, who never tell lies, and always captured the bad guy in the black hat, are over.  Our favorite cowboys have been replaced by sports figures and rock stars, who suffer from infidelity and drug problems.  Since our children’s pool of good examples for heroes is small, why can’t we, their parents, be their heroes?

Our children are watching us every day.  They learn how to interact in the world by what they see.  We can leave it to the rock stars to school our children, or we can rise to the occasion.  We can’t force our children to look at us like their hero, but the way we live our lives as a testimony for them to observe. Here’s eleven ways to be a great role model for our younger generation.

1.  They’ll do what you do, not what you tell them to do.
2.  Have a great work ethic for them to see.
3.  Finish what you start, even if it’s not what you thought it would be.
4.  Always be consistent.  Do what you say you are going to do.  Don’t threaten punishment if you aren’t going to carry through with it.
5.  Always keep your promises.
6.  Show your family they are your top priority.
7.  Love your spouse with all your heart.  Never put your children, first, before your spouse.
8.  Do something, every day, to show them what’s in your heart.
9.  Say you’re sorry when you in the wrong, especially to them.  Mean it when you say it.
10.  Live a life of principles.  A life lived well is a better testament than all the words ever spoken.
11.  Tell them how much you love them every chance you get.  Let them know every day what you love about them.

One of the saddest scenario in raising children is sung by Harry Chapin in his song “The Cat’s in the Cradle”.  Albert Einstein Said it best, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.”

Positive parenting pays its dividends in our children.  It’s not the easiest role in our life, but it is the most rewarding.  The role models we are today passes down for many generations to come.  Some day, you might find out you’re the hero in your children’s lives.

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11 Behaviors That Make Time Management a Nightmare

October 25th, 2010 5 comments

Time management is a subject we all deal with.   Each of us have behaviors that can make managing our time a night mare!   Time is a  free commodity which can seem plentiful, especially when we are doing something we don’t enjoy.  It drags by, second by second, as if Father Time was dragging an elephant around on his coat tails.  I remember watching the clock in school as it slowly made its way to the dismissal bell, thinking I was stuck in the twilight zone of frozen time.

Equally as confusing is when we are enjoying ourselves or crunching to meet a deadline.  Time flies by in a blur.  Harvey MacKay says it best,
“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”

Where does our time go?  To find out where our time goes, we must first recognize the behavior that’s stealing it from us.  Here is a list of eleven notorious time thieves.

1.  Improperly prioritizing our work
2.  Letting less important task such as email consume our time
3.  Unable to say “no” to others
4.  “I’ll do it later” mindset or procrastinating
5.  Poor crisis management skills
6.  Not finishing something before going on to the next
7.  Day dreaming
8.  Feeling guilty and defeated for past unfinished projects
9.  Stress
10. Lack of quality sleep
11. Sucked into other people’s drama or letting other people distract us.

Do any of these seem familiar?  It is easy to become unfocused and off track when we have any of these nipping at our heals.  Setting goals can help us focus and get back on track.

Time really isn’t something we can manage.  We can’t control the passage of the hours and minutes of our day.  We can only manage our use of time.  The eleven points can  only be overcome by using self discipline.  But, none of  this will happen without, first,  identifying your own personal self limiting behavior.  If this feels like a challenge, you may need a second set of objective eyes in the form of  a coach or mentor.

After we have contemplated and located our own personal time thief, we can start behavior modification to get back in control of our time.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you do to overcome these time bandits.

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The Dirty Little Secret About Hoarding

October 20th, 2010 1 comment

The subject of hoarding seems to be a hot topic these days.  I can see why.  Growing up with it in my family left me ashamed and confused.  I didn’t want anyone to see the conditions I had been raised in.  I was confused on how to deal with it.  It was a dirty little secret I didn’t feel like I had any control over.  How many people can relate to this?

My parents lived through the depression.  My mother was raised in a very poor situation in Oklahoma.  They had dirt floors in their home.  Her parents were farm hands.  My mother could run mule teams by the time she was 7 years old.  She could  Knock a squirrel dead, out of a tree, with a rock.  Her hunting skills helped feed her family.  Even though she was a dead eye with a rock, there were many nights her family went to bed without anything to eat.  Did she feel the need to hoard because of her child hood?

My father lived on several farms in southern Iowa when he was growing up.  His father was a farm hand until they moved to town where he became high school custodian.

My father’s family has kept the furniture my great great grandfather made.  It traveled down the Ohio river with the family when they moved to Iowa after the Civil War.

When my grandmother passed away, they moved all of her things into their home.  They couldn’t stand to part with anything!  Their home was, literally, filled to the rafters!  Obviously, my family loves their stuff.  When does “loving your stuff” cross over into unhealthy hoarding?

Each of my siblings and I had spoken to them about getting rid of some things.  That was as well received as a nuke at a peace rally.  If you have ever known a hoarder, this is a very sensitive subject.  My parents were obsessively attached to their stuff!

My parent’s hoarding had become extreme.  They had been living in their home since 1963.  They kept everything, from junk mail to bags of old walnuts which were probably 10 years old, or older.

When my mother’s health began to slip, there were numerous ambulance rides.   My parents home had become so cluttered that the ambulance drivers couldn’t get a gurney through to her bedroom.  They had to take her out in a sling type of cot.  When she arrived at the hospital, the trip through the house had been so perilous and close that she had a piece of one of her house plants stuck in her hair.  This issue had gotten to critical mass.  We finally had no choice, but to deal with it.

After the first ambulance trip, while my mother was in the hospital, we moved like a united front. We swooped and cleared away the paper and trash.  We filled a dumpster numerous times.  I don’t know if the way we did it was correct, but it had to be done.  My parents were not happy with our actions, but what could they do?  This, however, did not stop the hoarding.

As my parents continued to age, they were less able to care for themselves.  I became the one who helped them pay their bills, among other things.  Then it dawned on me.  They couldn’t make a decision about what mail they should keep and what they should throw away.  Could one reason for hoarding be a lack of decision making skills?

While I was dealing with their mail, they would appear nervous, but also relieved.  I disposed of what they didn’t need.  When I first started doing this, I had to take the trash completely out of the house to keep them from wanting to retrieve it.

They have now had to relocate to a full nursing care facility.  We are in the process of going through their house preparing it for sale.  We have found many treasures, and lots of junk.  And, yes, to answer the question I know must be in your mind, great great Grandpa’s furniture is still in the family.

I am doing research on this subject for a project I am working on.  I need your help.  I would love to have you leave me a comment and tell me your stories.  How did you deal with it?  Where did you go for help?  Thank you in advance for all your help!

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How to Set Priorities for More Success

October 18th, 2010 1 comment

I have worked with many different people in my business career.  I have come to realize, we are not hatched from the womb knowing how to prioritize our work or our lives for success.  It is a learned skill.

If this important tool isn’t learned, we are left to muddle through life focusing on unproductive activities.  This leads to under achievement and frustration.  When we take the time to learn how to prioritize our work, it opens up a whole new world of achievement and success.  Here are three things to consider when setting priorities.

1.  We must understand the rule of 20/80 in our activities.  20% of our activities will account for 80% of our success.  Out of the 10 items on our lists of things to do, 2 of those items are of higher value than the other eight.  Those 2 are responsible for the achievements of our desired effect we are working to accomplish.  How do we know which are our 2 things?

2.  We must understand the big picture.  Meaning, we have to know the end result we are striving to accomplish, and what it takes to get there.  If we don’t know our target, we will wander aimless, never getting close to our desires.  Only by seeing the big picture will the best path appear.

It’s like hiking.  If we only stare at the end of our shoes, we will trip and fall over every obstacle in our path.  If we raise our eyes above our feet we will see the path ahead.  We will know, in advance, when the path has things that will hinder our progress, such as tree roots or limbs that will smack us in the head.  We will see clearly the path that leads to our destination.

It is important to set a time when we can block out our distractions and set goals.  Goal setting gives us the path to walk.  To set those goals effectively, we have to be clear on our desired outcome, or the destination we are striving for.

When we have done this, we are able to ask ourselves, what is the most valuable use of my time now?  An entrepreneur and business owner will ask themselves, what activities will bring the most profits?

3.  Setting our priorities also includes knowing how our work affects others.  Are we impeding another person’s progress by not completing our work? There isn’t anything more frustrating for a team than having to wait for someone else to accomplish a task that directly affects completing their own tasks.

For instances, lets say, we are working on an assembly line and building a new car. The workers responsible for installing the engine can’t put it into the car if those responsible for the frame haven’t done their job.

If it doesn’t impact our results in a positive way, or is holding someone else back from completing their job, it might deserve to be a low priority item on our list.

Understanding how to organize our work with proper attention to our high impact priorities is a valuable skill to have.  Now is the time to polish up this skill.  It will move us faster to our destination of success!

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How Can I Handle the Stress of Caring for My Elderly Parents?

October 15th, 2010 6 comments

My story is fairly routine.  Many of you will relate.  I’m a baby boomer.  My parents are from the WWII generation.  My father served in the Army Air Corp and fought in the Pacific theater.  My mother was a Rosie the Riveter.  She tore down air plane engines on a base in New Mexico.  They met on base, fell in love,  and they have been married for 64 years.  They have been blessed with long lives.  The downside of this fairytale is the stress involved in taking care of my elderly parents.

About 10 years ago their health began to decline.  I am the only one of their children living in their city.  Needless to say, the majority of the responsibility for caring for them has fallen to me.  Caring for them is an honor.  But, it is not without stress.  In fact, it is one of the most stressful things I have coped with in my life.  When I started this 10 years ago, there weren’t a lot of resources easily available.

Many of you are in the same situation as I had found myself in.  We all lead busy lives.  When we need to become the care givers for our beloved old people, our lives become even busier.  I felt like I was doing it all.  I began to feel like a rubber band stretched so tight, any more pressure and I would snap!

Caregivers deal with so much stress.  It isn’t uncommon for the caregiver to get sick themselves.  It happened to me.  I developed a life threatening health issue myself.  It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  It forced me to find other ways to deal with my parents and the stress of caring for them.

I wanted to share with you a few tips on how I alleviate some of the stress of being the main caregiver.

1.  I found out, I wasn’t alone. There is so much more help for the elderly, and their caregivers,  these days.  There are numerous resources available.  My father is a veteran and the Veterans Administration was very helpful.  Aging veterans is their forte.  I feel, they really care for their veterans.  They have, also, heard it all and seen it all.

There are many agencies that deal with aging which are as close as the phone book or Internet.  Doctors who deal with geriatric patients are a great source for setting up services.  They can help point you in the right direction for services.  Many of these services will need a doctor’s referral for medicare to help with the costs.

Implementing these services took some of the stressful pressure off of me.  An interest side effect of this, the trained professionals dealt with Mom and Dad on a completely different level then I could.  They were the professional and my parents listen to them.

One of the most incredible service available in our city is seniors taking care of seniors.  Retired people who have a talent or service they wish to offer are available to do many tasks around the house such as plumbing, electrical, yard work, etc.  They take no pay or little pay depending on the service provided.  What loving and dedicated people!

2. I had to take time for myself. I know many of you have traveled by air to get to your destination.  The flight attendant always has a demonstration at the beginning of the flight.  They show you how to put on your air mask.  They explain that you should always put your mask on first before you help those that can’t do it themselves.  If you can’t breath and become incapacitated, you won’t be able to help others.

Taking care of Mom and Dad is very similar.  If you don’t take time to de-stress you will burn out and get sick.  Taking time for yourself is like the life sustaining oxygen mask on your air flight.  Spend time with friends, paint, read, or whatever you do to relax.  Be careful of too many cocktails.  Those can be an area of trouble no one wants to be in.

3.  I found out I was too capable.  I was doing too many things for them.  Our goal was to keep them in their home as long as possible.  I found out, when I did so many things for them, they let me.  It became counter productive.  They grew less independent and relied on me too much.  Just like teaching a child to tie their shoe.  If you always tie their shoe, they will never remember how to do it themselves.  With our parents, if we always take care of it, they will soon forget how to do it and slide into dependence.

Our parents will not always be with us.  It is up to us, the caregivers, to learn how to keep our stress levels lower.  Some day, when they are gone, we can look back on our care giving days with fond memories of being in their lives when they needed us the most.

Leave me a comment, and let all of us know what worked for you!

If you want more information on this topic, you can find it in my ebook Caring for Your Aging Senior Citizen – The Common Sense Guide.  It comes with a companion Workbook.  You can find it at: or  click here!

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