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Class of 2029…

That’s my grandson’s class – the class of 2029.  WOW!  Now I feel old.

During my grandson’s recent kindergarten graduation event I thought a lot about education; learning; and knowledge over the generations.  It was fun to observe the family and friends of the kindergarten kids.  It was fun to observe the kids!

It occurred to me during that morning that everything I want to learn – my cell phone already knows.  I mean, if you think about what we need to think about in 2017 our little, cellular devices have put every answer to any question at our fingertips (and now at Alexa and Siri’s “fingertips”).  WOW!  Now I feel old.

Today, all we need is electricity; our cell phones will do the rest of the thinking for us.  But what type of “thinking” do these devices do?  Do phones have emotions?  Can they be compassionate?  Will these devices reinforce our social norms; mores; manners?  Will people equipped with these devices have the knowledge to even know the difference?

Ah yes, there’s that word “know”.  I asked my phone – it had the answer, of course:

verb.  1. Be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information

OK, seems pretty matter-of-fact.  But how does modern technology impact our ability to know?  Is technology enhancing or diminishing our inquiry?  Our observation?  Or just pouring out information?

I think we know that knowledge has value, don’t we?

An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends. 

Benjamin Franklin

But is knowledge “it”?  Is that all we need to know?  Is that the mission of the Class of 2029 – to know they need to gain knowledge?  Or, do they only need to know that cell phones run on electricity?  And their cell phones already “know” everything?

Could there be more?

Imagination is stronger than knowledge.  Dreams are more powerful than facts.  Hope always triumphs over experience. 

Robert Fulghum

Hmmm…  I’m aware through observation and inquiry that at my grandson’s kindergarten graduation one of the teachers cited excerpts from Robert Fulghum, too:

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten ©

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten.  Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.  Play fair.  Don’t hit people.  Put things back where you found them.  Clean up your own mess.  Don’t take things that aren’t yours.  Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.  Wash your hands before you eat.  Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.  Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.  Take a nap every afternoon

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.  Be aware of wonder.

Think what a better world it would be if all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.  Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put thing back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Siri – give that an Amen!

GAP

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Christ’s birthday…

Merry Christmas to all!

Wishing you a day of peace, hope, joy and celebration with family and friends.  Thank you in advance for permitting me to re-post this little ditty – it’s one of my favorites.

Of course, Christmas is more than just one day, true?  Whatever our spiritual beliefs, may each of us find meaning to our life during this season in a way that lasts throughout the entire year.  So here’s to looking back and celebrating 2016; and to looking forward to an even better 2017!

Lest there be any confusion, may we be reminded of that which was important this year, and that which wasn’t.

We are reminded by bankers to be of good cheer:

A little boy received a new drum for Christmas.  Shortly thereafter, his father came home from work and the mother told him, “I don’t think the man upstairs likes to hear Georgie play his new drum, but he’s certainly subtle about it.  “How do you know”? asked the father.  “Well, this afternoon he gave Georgie a knife and asked him if he knew what was inside the drum.” 

Herbert Prochnow

We are reminded by strangers not to lose sight of our common sense:

On most brands of Christmas lights:

“For indoor or outdoor use only.”

(As opposed to…what?)

Unknown Sage

We are reminded by the gospel to be satisfied with who we are not what we bought:

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less.  That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. 

Matthew

We are reminded by the novelists to remember (and be thankful for) our “fortunes”:

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. 

Charles Dickens

We are reminded by the politicians (of all people) to remember why this is a holiday to begin with…

How many observe Christ’s birthday; how few His precepts.  O ‘tis easier to keep a Holiday, than Commandments.

Benjamin Franklin

We are reminded to offer His blessings to you and yours from me and mine.

And to all a good night!

GAP

Passionate People…

I read an interesting article recently, Critical Things Passionate People Do Differently .  I’ve been receiving articles like this from TalentSmart regularly (check ‘em out http://www.talentsmart.com/ ).  To me, they are portraying an effective way of leveraging social media marketing by providing me consistent, useful thought leadership.

I think that anyone who quotes Galileo offers a different and interesting perspective:

Passion is the genesis of genius. 

Galileo

And as I read the article, I found myself doing a self-assessment.  Want to try it?  Here is the Author’s list:

  1. Passionate people are obsessed (In a good way LoL!)
  2. They don’t waste their time
  3. They’re optimistic
  4. They’re early risers
  5. They’re willing to take big risks
  6. They have one speed – full tilt
  7. They talk about their passions all the time
  8. They’re highly excitable
  9. They’re all about their work

On the 1st point, when it comes to my work and sports, I am definitely obsessed (hopefully, in a good way).  On the work side if you have been reading me for a while, then you know I am fascinated by the business of business and passionate about the profession of sales.

On the sports front, I am definitely passionate about football.  In fact, this time of year I love to bring out one of my favorite video clips that brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.  To me, it represents the amazing things ordinary people can (and do) accomplish when they simply, but passionately “give their best”.  See what you think.

Here’s the 6-minute movie clip about high school kids, an underdog football team, and their coach’s passion about “giving your best”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sUKoKQlEC4

Probably not a management technique that transfers into today’s, modern business world – but his message and his passion does, true?  Although the sporting world is different than the business world, there remain many cross-over principles that apply.  Passionate owners, executives, coaches, consultants, managers and mentors can help us instill the drive and make the extra effort towards reaching our goals, yes?

One with passion is better than forty who are merely interested. 

Tom Connellan

Moving on to point #2 time wasting, the Author obviously has under estimated one’s passion behind the popularity of football as a pastime, agreed?  Point #3 – optimistic – for me, absolutely every day and twice on Sundays!  As my slogan states:

When life gets tough, you can get a helmet… or arm yourself with the peace & power of a positive perspective. 

Point #4 – early risers – for me, again absolutely!  This point brings to mind a famous football player’s quote I enjoy quoting:

Be happy today and every day because you’re dead a long time. 

Johnny Unitas

Point #5 – taking risks – maybe others think of me this way, but I don’t.  I suspect my optimism overshadows any perception of risk.  Point #6 – full tilt – yes, I guess.  When it’s one speed we don’t think of it as “speed” at all, do we?  Point #7 – yep, as my readers (and my wife) can attest.  Point #8 – again, “guilty as charged”.  Thank God I have a patient Manager who tolerates my occasional out bursts of excitement because he knows how much I care about “doing my best”.

And finally, Point #9 – regarding this point, I hope it doesn’t apply.  On a daily basis, I actually try to balance my work passions; seek new interests; have some fun in my life; and try not to drive my wife and family too crazy.

GAP

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April optimism…

Ahh, April; springtime in the Rockies!  What a wonderfully eventful time of the year; snow last week; 70’s this week.  Never quite sure what Mother Nature has in mind for us.  But April has always been my personal demarcation point for the beginning of spring.  And springtime buds optimism, true?

No Winter lasts forever, no Spring skips its turn. 

Hal Borland

According to Wikipedia, the start of the spring season occurs at different times, based on different reasons depending on our different perspectives:

Meteorological reckoning

Spring, when defined in this manner, can start on different dates in different regions. In terms of complete months, in most North Temperate Zone locations, spring months are March, April and May…

Ecological reckoning

The beginning of spring is not always determined by fixed calendar dates. The phenological or ecological definition of spring relates to biological indicators; the blossoming of a range of plant species, and the activities of animals, or the special smell of soil…

Of course, April 15th is the deadline day for filing our income tax returns – now there’s an annual “Taxpayer reckoning” American could do without!

April is a time of reckoning in the sports world, too.  The NBA is winding down their regular season and gearing up for the playoffs; the NHL too.  Winter sports you say?  Well, those winter sports haven’t ended in the winter season since last century.

April also holds optimism and opening days for Major League Baseball teams.  The Colorado Rockies’ home opener is this afternoon.

People sometimes ask me if I am a Rockies fan.  Sadly – no.  You see, I only have a place in my heart for one, bad franchise at a time.  You guessed it – I’m a die-hard Cubs fan!

Now to be a Cubs fan is saying something about optimism.  The Cubs last won the National League pennant in 1945 (71 years ago); they last won the World Series in 1908 (108 years ago).  No wonder we are referred to as “die-hard”!

But mostly, April weather and the spring season remind me of my Chicago roots; warming weather; and optimism:

Life in Chicago

60° above –   Floridians wear coats, gloves and wooly hats.                              Chicago people sunbathe.

50° above –   New Yorkers try to turn on the heat.  Chicago people                    plant gardens.

40° above –   Italian cars won’t start.  Chicago people drive with                        their windows down.

32° above –   Distilled water freezes.  Lake Michigan’s water gets                        thicker.

20° above –   Californians shiver uncontrollably.  Chicago people                      have their last cook-out before it gets cold.

15° above –   New York landlords finally turn up the heat.  Chicago                    people throw on a sweatshirt.

Zero –          Californians fly away to Mexico.  Chicago people                          lick the flagpole.

20° below –   People in Miami cease to exist.  Chicago people get                      out their winter coats.

40° below –   Hollywood disintegrates.  Chicago’s Girl Scouts begin                    selling cookies door-to-door.

60° below –   Polar bears begin to evacuate Antarctica.                                   Chicago’s Boy Scouts postpone “Winter Survival”                         classes until it gets cold enough.

80° below –   Mt. St. Helen’s freezes.  Chicago people rent some                        videos.

100° below – Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.  Chicago                           people get frustrated when they can’t thaw the keg.

297° below – Microbial life survives on dairy products. Illinois cows                   complain of farmers with cold hands.

460° below – ALL atomic motion stops. Chicago people start                           saying, “Cold ’nuff for ya?”

500° below – Hell freezes over. The Cubs win the World Series!

Hang tough, fellow Die-Hard Cubs Fans.  2016 is our year!

GAP

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Full measure…

Our favorite, Unknown Sage once said,

Life can be measured by the number of moments that take your breath away.

Based on that metric, I enjoy a very, full-measured life.  Last Saturday was my 43rd wedding anniversary.   The journey has actually been even longer – my future wife and I met in the 7th grade.  She still takes my breath away!

Over the years, I have occasionally rocked the foundation of our comfort zone – failed investments; family feuds; job changes; you know the usual stuff.

My wife is half Irish; and I know I have provided her ample opportunities to invoke that Irish Blessing:

May you never forget what is worth remembering, or remember what is worth forgetting.

So permit me to pause from the daily drum beat of my career coupled recently with her start-up business, and devote a few thoughts toward never forgetting what is worth remembering.

Relationships – husbands and wives; parents and children; brothers and sisters; colleagues; BFF’s; no matter.  Let’s pause for a moment to focus on those special people that have taken our breath away.  It’s time to give them a call (no voicemails please); write them a letter (texts don’t count – give them the ink!); and let’s offer a full measure of thanks to our pride and joy.

Relationships – family, friends, colleagues.  The currency of a fulfilling, meaningful life, don’t you think?  And like any other “bank account”, relationships entail “deposits” and “withdrawals”.  I have benefited often from the deposits the special people surrounding me have made.  And in so doing, each of these special people have enriched my life.

What did we do to celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary?  We worked a 16-hour day at the Colorado Springs Horse Expo, of course.  You see, this year we have embarked on a new journey – that of a family owned company.  Stressful.  In January, we worked together for 16 straight days in a “phone booth”:

NWSS_Booth

OK, it was actually an 8’x 10’ vendor booth at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo.  And to be fair, I wasn’t in her booth morning, noon, and night. During the week, I worked my full time job.  I attended to my second job in the evenings only – and then morning, noon and night on weekends.  8’x 10’; 80 square feet; working elbow to elbow in a family owned business; with differing points of business view:

The opinions expressed by the husband do not reflect the opinions enforced by Management.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe that business success is an important contribution to a healthy relationship.  It can be another source of pride and joy.  It’s just deciding to pursue a new business “adventure” this far into our marriage can be a bit stressful.  No worries though – after enjoying a lifetime together, we are up to it!

So today I’m focused on my wife of 43 years – staying married to me, she has certainly earned it!  I’m thankful for the good fortune to have her in my life.  Along with family, friends, and business colleagues – all have made me a rich man.

And I salute those of you who enjoy long-lasting, loving marriages, too.  Perhaps we would agree in Harold Nicholson’s revelation:

The great secret of successful marriage is to treat all disasters as incidents and none of the incidents as disasters.

Now let’s all go out and buy flowers for our wife, or send a handwritten card to those special people that have enriched our life – all deserving a full measure of our appreciation.

GAP

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A peek inside…

So I was writing one of my little ditties recently at our favorite neighborhood coffee shop.  My wife, children and grandchildren were there – one of those precious, informal family gatherings I am so blessed to enjoy.

It was the usual small talk – weekend plans; work; school; the weather; the Broncos…  They don’t mind when I sometimes multi-task during our coffee clutch and type a sentence or two.  But the other day when I softly uttered, “600, all right!” our small talk was interrupted.  “600 what?” they inquired.  And that’s when I revealed a peek inside.

I’m generally a very private man; introverted really.  I’ve created a public-facing façade in order to pursue my professional responsibilities.  I don’t know – maybe I should share with you the same peek?  It’s said in the marketplace today there is value with genuineness.  There’s nothing particularly earth shattering behind the way I write; but my family was quite amused; maybe you will be too.

First, 600 is the number of words that comprise my ditties.  600 – exactly.  Not 599; not 601; each one must be 600 before it’s finished.  Truth be told: I bang out an initial draft in about an hour.  Then I typically spend 6-7 hours editing; re-writing; adjusting; word-smithing; until (A) I like the piece, and (B) it is exactly 600 words.  Yep 600; welcome to my world. (LoL!)

As you already know, I like sharing personal experiences and life’s little observations.  Not for self-promotion purposes (although we all have an ego, yes?); and certainly not for monetary gain (I haven’t figured out how to peddle these pieces yet).  I do wonder sometimes whether I’m being read, and if so why:

People who read me seem to be divided into four groups; Twenty-five percent like me for the right reasons; 25 percent like me for the wrong reasons; 25 percent hate me for the right reasons.  It’s the last 25 percent that worries me. 

Robert Frost

It’s all good, though.  Writing is my way of “thinking out loud”.  I like to pose situations to my readers so you can:

Read about it briefly (600 words – exactly)

Decide if it relates to you

And if it does, allow you to observe what I did in that situation so you can;

Determine if I am a blithering idiot offering nothing more than a little comic relief in your day (which I suspect some have already concluded)

Make you feel good that if I have been able to make a living being as inept as you believe I am, there is hope for you

Invoke you’re knowledge and experience with the situations I write about resulting in the thought of, “Nice try Gary, that’s not how it works; what you should have done was thus and so…”

And as a result I’m actually providing you the service of reinforcing what not to do in certain circumstances

Which may also be of value

Sometimes, I might even offer sound advice based on good judgment.  You see, I believe I have finally learned where good judgement originates:

Good judgement comes from experience.  Experience comes from bad judgement. 

Unknown Sage

Of course, I hope my readers don’t take my judgments too seriously:

Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own.  You may both be wrong. 

Dandemis

So there you have it; for better or worse; a 600 word peek inside the process and the paradigm behind these little ditties.  Welcome to my world, indeed. (LoL!)

GAP

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Comfort zone…

One of my colleagues recently left our company to take a role with a start-up.  “Boots”, I said, “you’ll do great – go get ‘em!”  And with that she left the “comfort zone” of her current position for a “new world”, a new role, with a new company, in a new city.

If you try too carefully to plan your life, the danger is that you will succeed – succeed in narrowing your options, closing off avenues of adventure that cannot now be imagined.

Harlan Cleveland

Encouraging my now former colleague made me think, “When was the last time I was in my comfort zone”?  I have been operating outside of my comfort zone for so long I’m trying to remember what is was like.

1975 – 1975 was the last time I can remember being in my comfort zone.  I was graduating from college during a tough job market.  My inclination was to stay at my alma matre Knox College, in Galesburg Illinois, and work in the admissions office.

My wife didn’t want to stay in a small town; my basketball coach and mentor, Harley Knosher, knew taking an admissions job was simply a path of least resistance.  So the two of them teamed up; prodded me out of my comfort zone; “You’ll do great – go get ‘em!” they said.

So I sent out over 200 letters of employment inquiry; was invited for 2 interviews; and received one, count ‘em, one job offer.  “Honey” I said, “We’re headed to Merrillville, Indiana for a career in retail”.   And with a $9,600 annual salary offer in hand, we headed towards a “new world”, a new role, with a new company, in a new city.   And that’s when I left my comfort zone.

How about you?  Are you in your comfort zone?  How adventurous are you?  Does life have you in a position where you must operate outside of your “comfort zone”?  Well, maybe that makes us better?

There can be constructive worry if it is directed towards positive goals. 

Joe Newton

The topic represents quite the contrast for me.  You see, I am a planner by nature; risk adverse; fearful; often shy.  Those who “know” me might be surprised by such a description.  Yet it’s true.  All things considered, I’d just as soon take in an afternoon movie vs. explore the new world.

Oh I’m skilled in my trade; experienced; successful in my field.  Over the years I’ve had to condition myself to operate outside of my comfort zone; take risks; do new things.

I don’t know – maybe life is meant to be lived uncomfortably.  Maybe we’re meant to be constantly striving; constantly seeking; constantly worrying.  Take today’s business models.  The only constant we seem to be dealing with is change!  And how do we face the “new world” of this change?  Who likes facing the new world of new business models; new companies; new markets?

What’s my return on investment in e-commerce?  Are you crazy? This is Columbus in the New World.  What was his ROI?

Andrew Grove

OK – by comparison, we might not be quite as bold as Christopher Columbus.  He faced more than the unknown.  The “experts” of his time were convinced about the world:

People told Columbus the world was flat.  He didn’t insist it was round.  He got in a boat. 

3Com Advertisement

So come on everyone; you’ll do great – go get ‘em!  There’s a “new world” out there waiting for your discovery.  Besides, comfort zones and afternoon movies are over rated.

GAP

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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

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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.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia?

Ever heard of it?  Me neither.  And I definitely could not spell it.  So if you have it – beware – today may be one of “those days”.  Today, you might need to get a helmet!  According to our indispensable knowledge source, Wikipedia:

The fear of Friday the 13th has been called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named in English and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen)

Are you superstitious?  Will this Friday be unlucky for you?  I’ve never been one to be superstitious; especially if my quota month; quarter; or sales year ended on a Friday the 13th.  I needed all of the days possible to reach my goals.

It’s interesting to observe how our fellow men, women, and children respond to life’s challenges and risks.  Each in our own way have a “Cross to bear”, true?  And when the burden seems too big to bear, how do we respond?  Blame it on bad luck; superstition; Friday the 13th?  Perhaps there are other options that will help get us through.

Superstition; risk; luck – they are all different but perhaps related when dealing with life’s challenges and related business risks.  Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the legendary business executive credited with leading the creation of the once powerhouse automotive entity General Motors, offers us his perspective:

The problem with risk is that it is… risky.  The extent of risk can sometimes be quantified but the fact is that when the calculation is completed, there is an irreducible element of luck involved when a risk is taken.

General Motors has certainly been facing great risk and difficult times in recent years.  From the federal government bailout; the decline of the city of Detroit; to record recalls of defective vehicles, maybe the current CEO of GM, Mary T. Barra, is unlucky.  Was she promoted to the CEO role on a Friday by chance?

But let’s return to the term friggatriskaidekaphobia.  It probably was not a word used in the recent National Spelling Bee.  Do you think those teenage co-champions were lucky to win the contest this year?  Or, do you think they were prepared?  My favorite high school, boys cross country coach thinks this about luck:

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. 

Joe Newton

I’d wager those kids were prepared (vs. just being lucky) for their opportunity and the risk of the stiff competition.  And I’m OK if you insist we allow Alfred P. Sloan Jr. to add that, “when the calculation is completed, there is an irreducible element of luck involved when a risk is taken.”

We all face stiff competition today, don’t we?  Most people I know are working extra hard; pursuing goals; caring for their family; worrying about the risks; fearing the unknowns.  When dealing with life’s challenges, do we resort to counting on luck and superstition to get us through?

Back to the recent spelling bee – did you notice how many of the finalists were repeat finalists?   Several have competed before; came close to winning; and returned to pursue their dream of being the national champion.  James C. Collins might comment:

Luck favors the persistent.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia – I can’t spell it; didn’t even know about it until recently reading Wikipedia; but no worries – I don’t believe in it!  Put me in the prepared and persistent column of facing life’s challenges (and risks).  And yes – in case you are wondering – I drive a Ford.  How about you?

GAP

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