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Archive for October, 2014

Hauntings…

October.  Halloween. Haunted houses.  Jason, chainsaws, and scary costumes.  What a fun time of year!  But not all hauntings are scary.  Google offers this definition:

haunt·ing  ˈhôn(t)iNG/  adjective

Poignant and evocative; difficult to ignore or forget.

synonyms: evocativeemotiveaffectingmovingtouchingstirringpowerful;poignantnostalgicwistfulelegiac;memorableindelibleunforgettable

Hauntings – good and bad – have happened to us all, true?  Although we associate hauntings in October with scary, Halloween things, “difficult to forget” can apply to good memories, too.

When I recently wrote a little ditty about “sacred”, my wife offered this hauntingly good and powerful memory:

The Lady behind my Ladybug

Everyone might have a Guardian Angel, but how many of us have a Guardian Ladybug?  My Mom was, and still is, the guiding light in my life.

Vivienne Emily Rogers passed away September 11th, 2007.  Sadly, I now have my own, personal “9/11”.  However, she still is with us today.  You see, Vivienne continues to appear at happy and sad occasions; she appears near and far; and she even appears to my extended family and friends.  Yes, Vivienne really gets around!

When my Mom passed, I took the lead among our family in cleaning out the remaining possessions and artifacts in my childhood home, before that house became the next childhood home for someone else.  Vivienne’s beloved husband and my Dad Bill had passed away in this very house a few years earlier.

During the Fall of 2007 as we took on the task of a complete house clean-out, an unusual occurrence for that time of year in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst occurred.   While carrying items out of the house to the garage for temporary storage, a ladybug appeared on the inside of the screen door.  Each trip to the garage, I kept flicking the ladybug outside, thinking that is where she wanted to be.  I couldn’t tell if there were more than one ladybug, or if this was somehow the same one.

As I started to tackle the kitchen clean-out:  particularly difficult not because of all the cooking utensils, but an emotional pilgrimage.  You see, my Mom loved to cook.  And I loved to spend time with her in her little kitchen learning to cook the same way she had learned to cook under the loving guidance of her mother.  During my toil to clean everything out, a ladybug kept appearing near the window; circling the ceiling light; strolling along the countertop.  Each time I would gently capture the ladybug, walk her to the back door, and “set her free”.  Only to have ladybug reappear in the kitchen at a later point.

By mid-December, the work was completed and we were making our last drive back to our home in Denver with a small trailer of memories and family heirlooms.  During two of the “bio breaks”, I found a ladybug in the ladies’ restroom.  Seeing ladybugs in Iowa and Nebraska in the month of December is quite unusual (to say the least).  I and finally realized, Mom was coming home with me.

Today, my business Mom’s Ladybug Embroidery Service is named in the honor of my Mom.  And I apply the same loving care I learned in her kitchen to all of my clients’ projects.

So if you see a ladybug when you’re out trick or treating, it might just be my Mother-in-Law enjoying the October fun.  Give her an extra candy bar.

What (or who) haunts you?

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Accountable…

That word seems to be surfacing often these days.  During my annual physical my doctor expressed a bit of concern about my weight; which, obviously means I have too much of it.  He encouraged me to become “accountable” for my weight and my diet.

Of course, doing so requires a clear understanding of portion sizes; reading food labels; controlling my sweet tooth.  In short, I would have to put forth more effort.  Isn’t there an alternative to being accountable?  I turned to my favorite, Unknown Sage:

Question: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

Answer:   Well, if you have a body, and you have body fat, your ratio is one-to-one.  If you have two bodies, your ratio is two-to-one, etc.

Question: I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life.  Is this true?

Answer:   How could that be true?  Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that’s it.  Everything wears out eventually, so how could speeding up your heart make you live longer?  If you want to live longer – take a nap.       

Question: My wife says I should cut down on meat, and eat more fruits and vegetables.  What do you say?

Answer:   Look, what does a cow eat?  Corn.  And what’s corn?  A vegetable.  So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system.

Question: Is beer bad for you?

Answer:   Look, it goes to the earlier point about vegetables.  As we all know, scientists divide everything in the world into three categories: animal, mineral, and vegetable.  Well, we all know that beer is not an animal, and it’s not on the periodic table of elements, so that only leaves one thing, right?  My advice:  Have a burger and a beer and tell everyone you’re on a vegetarian diet.

Not exactly “accountable”, you say?  True enough.

That word “accountable” also surfaces often at the office these days – you too?  My colleagues are always saying, “We need to hold So-and-So more accountable”.  (It seems that So-and-So screws up often at my company; yours too?  But I digress.)

Luckily, I was recently invited to an accountability webinar featuring the author of a best-selling business book, The Oz Principle.  The “principles” and theories offered in the webinar were all well and good.  But, wouldn’t you know it?  So-and-So started his webinar titled “Holding Others Accountable”, late.  Then, 12 minutes into his late-starting webinar, I received an automated, email reminder to attend his webinar – 12 minutes after So-and-So’s (late starting) webinar had started!

Not exactly “accountable”, you say?  True enough.  The experience brought to mind T. Harv Eker’s opinion:

How you do anything is how you do everything.

OK, So-and-So screwed up.  The challenge might just be our propensity to want to hold others accountable vs. focusing on our own accountability.

Everyone who works here is expected to work toward being the best he can possibly be at the tasks he’s accountable for.  When he can’t do that, he should act like he is until he gets around to it.  And if he’s unwilling to act like it, he should leave.

Michael E. Gerber

It’s always easier to try holding So-and-So accountable, than applying those same, high standards to ourselves, isn’t it?  Reminds me of Ken Blanchard’s view:

Empowerment means you have freedom to act; it also means you are accountable for results.

Focusing on So-and-So vs. our own actions and responsibilities:  Not exactly “accountable”, you say?  True enough.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Sacred…

While returning to my Alma Mater for homecoming last week, I attended the class: Intro to Religious Studies 101.

It amuses me to no end during my annual return, what a better student I could be now than I was when I was actually a student back then.  Of course my Professors weren’t as amused back then – and I have the grades to prove it!

During this class, Dr. James Thrall reviewed an assignment with about twenty undergraduates; each had written a short paper on a place they had visited that had a spiritual, sacred impact on their life.  Because this was an Intro to Religious Studies class, most of his students reflected on Christian-oriented sites such as cemeteries, church buildings, and religious services.  Others took a more intellectual approach and reported on the majesty of Mother Nature as witnessed from mountain tops, lakes, and forests.

Some of these young men and women related their view points in a recent context; a few added the historical, biblical context of ancient Jerusalem.  I suspect the course was in the “western religion” section of their text book because there were only slight references to non-Christian ceremonies and rituals.  However, occasionally diversity from other circumstances and stimuli as related to things that are “scared” was brought up adding depth to the discussion.

In addition to reviewing textual excerpts from each student’s paper, a few chalk board drawings as well as PowerPoint pictures were leveraged – adding sights to the sounds.  In fact, Professor Thrall reviewed many examples of stimuli human beings of all cultures in all times have used in seeking spiritual experiences including the power of color; sound; music; dance; dogma; and mystery.

As an alumnus and observer, I was in the “easy seat”.  I could simply listen; observe; and speculate without any further responsibility to the Professor or his class (just like attending church).  No one asked me to present my point of view on the places I hold sacred.  In this case, such detachment served me well.

As I watched and listened in a self-reflective way, I was able to identify a common theme running through each individual’s interpretation of the assignment:

Sacred experience is the spiritual process of being stimulated to “move” from my current state of consciousness to an alternative (yet still current state) of another, more meaningful, consciousness.

What is “sacred” to me are those stimuli that enable me to think of me within a greater, more powerful context – albeit time; historical significance (or insignificance); the physical universe; or other dimensions beyond my simple, current state.  Or, as the sign in my neighborhood coffee shop says;

Don’t take life too seriously; nobody gets out alive anyway.

As I sat in Professor Thrall’s class amidst those bright minds, I was spiritually stimulated to remembering my graduation day thirty nine years ago on the lawn outside one wing of the very building I was now sitting in.  I remembered why I hold sacred that day; that lawn; this building.

You see, on that day in 1975 I reached a goal of my Mom – she wanted her son to earn a college degree.  That goal was so important to her that she worked much of her adult life while enduring indescribable sickness to help fund my college education.  Although ultimately losing her battle with cancer nine months before my graduation day – she was there then; at this sacred place; where I returned today.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Context…

So, I am leading this “sales training class”.  Context?  My participants are experienced, successful business people.  My worry?  The term “sales training” can conjure up all sorts of concerns – including “a waste of time”.  Hopefully, they have not moved beyond the philosophies of the original sales masters:

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. 

Zig Ziglar

Adding to my dilemma (and their “fun”) the class runs for 3 days.  Three days; from 8am to 5pm; homework each evening; no mid-morning or mid-day breaks; working lunches.  And, although I cannot prevent mobile, multi-tasking throughout the day – I’m willing to compete for my participants’ participation.

You might wonder:  How can I possibly keep a class of senior, successful sales people fully engaged for such a prolonged period of time?  Well, permit me to add a bit more context – because the primary message I deliver in the class is all about the concepts of context.

Sales training:  Actually, the class is a practice session.  You see, from the context of selling skills, it doesn’t matter “what I got”.  What matters is “what they got”.  If I can help what they got even a little, then I have done my job.  “Helping them” is fashioned after the most successful people I can think of (although tempered a bit to remain in the appropriate context of our profession):

Al McGuire, former head basketball coach of Marquette University, once said, “A team should be an extension of the coach’s personality.  My teams were arrogant and obnoxious.”

Waste of time:  The attendees are actually my clients.  They have literally paid a few thousand dollars to join me in Denver.  Before they leave, it is my responsibility to insure they get their money’s worth.  Taking breaks; stopping for lunch; free evenings?  We “run” within the context of a different psychology:

“PACE”… 

Notice that in the mile we do not allow for much of a slowing down of the pace in the third quarter.  We certainly realize that at this point in the race there is great difficulty in maintaining the tempo and many coaches feel this is the proper time to rest.  We feel it is essential to maintain the pace at this time and that quite often the slowing down is merely a psychological thing. 

Joe Newton

Experienced Sales People:  Yes, but experienced in what context?  The challenge many senior, successful sales people have today is adapting to how “modern buyers buy”.  Most participants I work with gained their knowledge and skills last century!  For instance, I too owned a Motorola “brick phone” in 1990.  But that cellular technology experience no longer applies in 2014, true?

Success:  As defined by what?  I mean, how “successful” have I been given the fact that I’m still practicing and trying to perfect my selling skills?  After plying my trade for literally 40 years, I’m still striving to learn how to win every day – every deal.  However, let’s put “failure” in context:

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.

Michael Jordan

So, when my boss asks, “How did class go?”  I can take a literal interpretation and respond, “Well, nobody quit and nobody got hurt” 🙂  Which in a certain context is called “Success”!

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

 

High School Sweethearts…

Posted Oct 1 2014 by in True North with 5 Comments

Fall; October; football; high school; Homecoming – do you remember your first high school sweetheart?  High school is a very special and memorable time for teenagers; it certainly was for me.  And I always enjoyed the autumn season when I was in high school – Homecoming; Halloween; dating; parties (most chaperoned, some not).

Forty four years ago, this very time of the year, I asked the prettiest girl in my high school out on a first date.  I guess it went well enough because here we are forty four years later and I’m still awe-struck by the glow of her beauty.

I hope you enjoy this opening to Chapter XII True North, of my book, The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective © as much I enjoyed writing it:

Dedicated to… a crisp night in October; with a slight breeze blowing through bare trees – waiting for the coming winter.   Close your eyes.  Can you smell remnants of autumn leaves burning? 

To winning the homecoming football game.  To being carefree. To a Saturday night party at the teenager’s house whose parents are away.  Can you hear the kids having fun in the kitchen; the basement; and the backyard, all to the beat of the Rolling Stones? 

To couches, blue jeans and sweaters.  To the floor lamp reflecting on her blond hair making it shimmer with silvery streaks of light.  To the nervous small talk of a teenage boy in the presence of a varsity cheerleader.  To the patience of the teenage girl sitting on the couch with the captain of the varsity basketball team.  Can you remember when you could actually hear your heart throbbing? 

To throw pillows, which come in handy when the small talk runs out – what else can a young boy do?  And to playful pillow fights; which lead to gentle wrestling and ultimately to that first kiss. Remember how delicate she felt in your arms – the hint of her perfume – the taste of her lips? 

To first dates – dinner and a movie.  To the movie Catch 22 and the Oriental Theatre in downtown Chicago.  To dating the prettiest girl in your high school; to falling in love; to asking her father’s permission for her hand in marriage.  Were you ever so nervous? 

To the tears welling up in my eyes even as I write this short memoire.  To all those emotions; all the happiness; all those hopes and all those dreams; some fulfilled, some yet to be; and all that I can remember today as if it just happened yesterday – that I will remember everyday, as long as I live.  How can someone be so lucky? 

To 1970 – and that Saturday night in October in Elmhurst where I kissed Debbie for the very first time.  And to the friend’s house whose parents were out – to their couch, their floor lamp, to their throw pillows; and to the Rolling Stones music.  Can you imagine being so young, so infatuated, and so in love?  I still am.

Gary A. Pokorn

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.