Published August 28, 2007
alcohol , associated press , attitude , drugs , family , happiness , MTV , poll , porn , rock-n-roll , sex , teenagers
This question has been posed millions of times before but a recent poll conducted by MTV and the Associated Press dives deeper into the cause of happiness and the results are not too surprising to me but I’m sure some parents of teenagers were awestruck. The poll queried MTV’s target audience of male and females between the ages of 18-24.
Participants of the poll were asked over 100 questions concerning their personal happiness. As the pollsters began examining the answers an overwhelming theme began to emerge. Not sex, not drugs, not gangs, not rock-n-roll. The number one way this generation finds happiness is when they spend time with family. Number two, spending time with friends, three…spending time with others. Almost 75% of all polled said their relationship with their parents make them happy.
I’m encouraged but not surprised with the results of the poll. I have the awesome opportunity of working with this age group on a weekly basis. Yes, many of them are currently or were involved in sexual activity, have used or at least sampled illegal drugs, they’re current and former gang members, and many are what you would call quintessential rebels. When one develops a personal relationship with these so-called “troubled” youngsters you quickly realize they’re searching for that one key to happiness…family.
Admit it, that’s what we’re all looking for. Teenagers may look for it in different ways than adults. Teenagers often look to sex, drugs and alcohol to fill their need for family. Adults often look to porn, their buddies at they gym or an extra-marital affair. Whatever the case, we’re all searching for family. Through the cloud filled haze of drugs we are searching for family. Through the fantasy of porn, we are looking for family.
Yesterday was rather busy for me as my schedule was packed with meetings. And as Murphy’s Law would have it, the first meeting of the day got off to a bad start.
By the time we took a mid morning break I was tense, nervous and could feel a very negative attitude coming on. In fact I did something that was not very exemplary of a leader. I joined the crowd in blaming others for not reaching some of our goals.
Thankfully, I’ve been molding my leadership abilities long enough that I could hear that little voice saying you better step back and asses the situation and find a way to turn the tide of negativism. When I hear that voice I know it’s time for coffee and contemplation.
Upon returning to the meeting I first apologized for pinning the blame on another. After this a quote by Coach Bill McCartney came to mind and I decided to write it on the dry erase board. “We are not here to compete with each other, we are here to complete each other.” I asked the meeting group to read it and think about the words of the quote for the next sixty seconds.
What happened after that was truly amazing. You could feel the energy return, the winds of negativity die down and ideas begin to fill the room. For the next three hours we were able to identify some obstacles keeping us from our goals and began to work on them as a team.
Anyone in that room could have turned those meetings from negative to positive. I just happened to be the one who has learned to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I’m living proof that anyone can be a leader when they so choose.
For a few years of my life I roamed around looking for the next disaster to happen. I had defeated cancer once and just when my life was getting back to normal the disease returned. During those first couple of years after my second battle with cancer I walked through life with a hard hat on expecting something bad to happen. Outwardly, I was very optimistic and positive with family and friends but inwardly I was expecting the worst. I believed that my dreams would never come to pass. My inwardly attitude cemented my life into a period of status quo. I didn’t grow personally, spiritually or professionally during this time.
Thankfully, I read an article from Pat Williams in which he asked, “What’s keeping you from your dreams?” In the article Pat asked the reader to identify any obstacles that are currently keeping us from the life we dream of. For me it was no problem in identifying the obstacle. All I had to do was look in the mirror. The only thing that was keeping me back was my negative, gloom and doom attitude. It took some time but as I developed the new me something extraordinary began to take shape. No longer did I see obstacles, I saw opportunities. No longer did I see trouble, I saw testing. No longer did I see failure, I saw faith. When I began to see my obstacles from above as God sees them they no longer kept me from achieving my goals. When I understood that failure is a process that refines the gold within each of us I began to see my dreams come to fruition.
I’m still a work in progress. I’m not where I need to be personally, spiritually or professionally. I haven’t achieved all my dreams yet but I’m working on them. In order to accomplish those dreams I must constantly identify obstacles or opportunities for achievement.
So, what’s keeping you from achieving your dreams? Take the time today to not only list the dreams for you personally, but those of your family, your professional life and most importantly, your spiritual life. After you complete your list, identify any obstacles that are keeping you from those dreams and look for ways to turn them into opportunity.
We often hear the phrase “survivor” when relating to someone who has lived through a horrible accident or medical condition. Having whipped cancer earlier in life, some people refer to me as a cancer survivor. However, I hope I am like Ruth Reynolds, a 53-year old dialysis patient who is more than surviving, she’s living.
While still a youngster, Ruth was diagnosed with a severe kidney disease. By the age of 21 she was on dialysis. Ruth has seen a sister lose her life to the disease by the age of 16. Her daughter lost her battle with the disease at age 21. And if that wasn’t enough, Ruth’s long time friend Buddy lost his life to a heart attack at age 50.
Ruth is considered to be the world’s longest living dialysis patient. To date she has been undergoing dialysis for 32 years, which is about 20 years longer than the average. As Ruth puts it in an article in the Bradenton Herald today, “A lot of people have asked, why are you still alive? I say, by the grace of God.”
As Ruth explains further, “When my daughter and Buddy passed away I got down. I couldn’t take it. But God said ‘Un-uh’ people need to hear your story. I want people to know you’ve got to have faith in yourself and the Lord.”
For Ruth, the battle to stay alive is more than surviving it’s living a life that will impact others. So, the next time you choose to survive instead of live, I hope you think about a 53 year old lady who goes through dialysis three times a week. I know I certainly will. To read the entire article about Ruth visit the Bradenton Herald’s website.
Before heading out of town last week for the funeral of her brother my mother called her doctor for a refill of her blood pressure medication. Soon after her doctor returned the call and took the time to insure my mom was grieving in a normal manner. Not only did he refill her prescription but also suggested she up the dosage during the time she travel to and from Kansas. The suggestion worked as my mom had no problems with her blood pressure.
What makes this story encouraging is the fact that upon my mom’s return home she found a card from her doctor. On the front it appeared to be your average run of the mill sympathy card. However, the written words of my mom’s doctor on the inside of this card made it more than average. Despite long hours in a clinic, early morning rounds at a hospital and late night calls from patients, her doctor took the time to personally express his sympathy for my mom’s loss.
Through this card from the doctor I was reminded that often times the medication needed for physical and psychological healing is a dose of time and care. It is truly refreshing to see such a young doctor realize what it means to be a physician.
In this day of instantaneous e-mail never underestimate the power of personally penned card or letter.
Published February 9, 2007
attitude , dogs , heart , leadership , management , pets
On today’s front page of Inc.com there is an article delving into the “exotic animal” industry that has ballooned into a $15 million empire. According to the article, kinkajous, hedgehogs, sugar gliders and other exotic animals are becoming such household pets that they may overtake the dog as man’s best friend.
So why is everyone letting their dogs out and welcoming exotic pets as their new best friends? As one person who was asked this question stated, “Everyone wants to be different, they want to stand out in the crowd.”
This got me thinking how relevant this statement is to our lives as leaders. In our society today we spend millions of dollars on pets and other material possessions in the hopes of being different and standing out in the crowd. Once the newness of the pet wears off and more of our friends get exotic pets themselves, the more we cease to stand out in the crowd and we recycle our pursuit of being different. It’s a never ending cycle.
Imagine if we used this same cycle to improve ourselves as human beings, improved our attitudes, leadership and management. What happens when the shine wears off our new found attitude, our friends contract the disease of encouragement and our employees duplicate our leadership? Our pursuit of being different and standing out in the crowd will propel us to higher altitude of attitude, stronger leadership and better management. It’s as natural as our heart beat. It’s a never ending cycle that will reproduce never ending positive results.
Ok, I’m speaking to myself as much as I am to anyone on the issue of e-mail. If you’re like me e-mail and text messaging has become your top form of communication. I send and answer about 100 per day. While it makes me more efficient and saves lots of time, it does keep me from connecting personally with the person I’m e-mailing. I’ve noticed over the past few months that communications with several of my business associates and clients have been primarily through e-mail and text messaging.
Apparently I’m not alone. I just spent the better part of the morning arbitrating a serious conflict in an organization that was started by e-mail. After finally getting the sender and receiver to agree to meet with me we solved the situation rather quickly, but not before it had affected each employee within the organization.
Long story short, the e-mail addressed an important situation within the organization and was sent to the person whom the sender felt was most able to resolve the situation. Because the receiver seldom comes in contact with the sender she felt she was being blamed for the situation. Once they met face-to-face and explained their feelings it was a big case of misunderstandings.
An important thing to remember when using e-mail as your main source of communication is to never address personal or negative situations. E-mail and text messaging is just the words, which leaves it more misunderstood than the spoken words. E-mail is also more admissible in litigation than the spoken word.
It’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and address conflict and negative situations. Remember we all rely on tone of voice, facial expressions and eye gaze to figure out what someone really means. These are all factors that are lost when transmitting an e-mail.
Check your list of those whom you e-mail frequently, if you don’t know what sex they are, where they live or what race they are, it’s probably time you met them face-to-face or gave them a phone call.