When I Was with My Father…

Those who say that we live in a time when there are no heroes just don’t know where to look.

To find a real hero, sometimes all we have to do is look closer to home. Joseph Campbell wrote that a hero is not necessarily a legendary figure; more often he’s an everyday person who has given his heart to something bigger than himself—his family, for instance.

It’s true. Few things in life are more powerful or heroic than a father’s simple positive presence through the years. It doesn’t have to be fancy or dramatic. Think back on some of the basic loving things your father did that made you feel happy and secure. For me, it was the sound of his footsteps on the back stairs, as he hurried home from his truck-driving job to play with his kids. It was his reliable presence and laughter at our dinner table each night. It was his cheers from the sidelines. His quiet words of encouragement and pride.  His hand on my shoulder or a “you can do it” when the going got tough. Continue reading

Ideas Build on Ideas

How one idea leads to another.

What was the original inspiration for the modern computer? Some say it was the Chinese abacus, invented in 300 BC. Others say it was the “Difference Engine”, conceived by J.T. Muller in 1786. Still others point to the Zuse Z3 created by Konrad Zuse in WWII.

In reality, the modern computer is the direct result of several million years of human experimentation and contribution by untold millions of humans just like you and me. Sure, today’s computer is a beautiful and complex thing, but it’s made up of many parts, each of which can be considered a separate breakthrough, invention or precursor. The primitive wheel, lever, needle, awl, pulley, diode, vacuum tube and transistor all built on one another over countless centuries to eventually lead us to the powerful and elegant little laptop on your desk today. Continue reading

If I Had My Life to Live Over

Ideas for making the rest of your life the best of your life.

Erma Bombeck was one of America’s most beloved authors and humorists. For more than 30 years she wrote more than 4,000 hilarious newspaper columns chronicling the everyday life of a suburban housewife and her kids. By the 1970s, Erma’s columns were read twice weekly by 30 million readers in 900 newspapers across the U.S. and Canada.

She once said, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say to God, ‘I used everything you gave me.'”

In 1995, Erma was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Shortly thereafter she published the following column, a dog-eared copy of which I still keep tucked in my “life’s little reminders” folder: Continue reading

How do You Want to be Remembered?

What I learned from attending my own funeral.

One of the most magical chapters in Steven Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” is, ironically, about the end of life.

The chapter begins with a fascinating exercise (see a condensed version below.) You can easily complete this exercise in just 15 to 20 minutes, but the result will be a treasure you can carry forward with you the rest of your life—your own personal definition of a life well-lived.

 All you need is a piece of paper, a pen, and a quiet spot. Continue reading

The Secret to Happiness

What’s More Important to You?

Only two things have to change for us to find meaning and happiness in our lives: what we value, and where we focus our time and attention. The good news is that we get to choose. Here are a few clues to get you going:

people or things?
credentials or accomplishments?
the way you start, or the way you finish? Continue reading

Break Away from Routine

Keep the rebel artist alive in you.

You were a kid once, full of hope, curiosity and creative rebellion. Your imagination knew no boundaries. You made up stories and pretended. You broke the rules here and there, and you colored outside the lines.

In those days you marveled at just about everything, and felt seduced—seduced to have fun, to take a dare, to wander and wonder, to question the way things have always been done, to yearn and to learn, and to seek new quests and half-crazy adventures.

What happened? It’s time to be there again. Continue reading

Welcome the Unexpected

If you want to improve your luck, try wandering off the beaten track now and then.

The purpose of this blog is to encourage you to invite a little bungling and serendipity into your life. The word “serendipity” means “happy accident” or “lucky surprise.” It springs from an ancient Persian fable called “The Three Princes of Serendip.”

It seems that the three princes were constantly stumbling into unexpected but fortuitous discoveries. Sailing to a strange country in search of gold, for example, they would stumble across a fabulous diamond mine instead. “Those annoying princes are so lucky,” grumbled their sedentary cousins at home. Continue reading

Right Now is a Good Time

There are only so many tomorrows. “We are not living in eternity,” wrote Marie Beynon Ray. “We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand, and melting like a snowflake.”

If you have family or friends to forgive, forgive them now.

If you have childhood friends whom you haven’t called for many years, call them now.

If your mother, father, sister or brother is/are still alive, start a fresh relationship with them now.

If someone you love already died before you could tell them what you wanted to tell them, it’s not too late. Go ahead and tell them now.

If there are children (or nieces and nephews) in your life, give them the positive experiences that you may have missed as a child—and do it now.

If you have a dream that is calling you to the heights, don’t wait any longer. Follow it now.

If you have special talents, gifts, abilities or energies to give to the world, give them now.

If you can help make someone else’s dream come true, help it come true now.

If there’s a cause in your community worth standing for—or a battle worth fighting for—stand and fight for it now.

We are living in troubled times. The presidential election is over, and our country is sorely divided. If there’s something positive you and I can do, large or small, to help heal the divide, let’s do it now.

How Do You Want to be Remembered?

12_13_16-blogThis little quiz may change your answer.

The following quiz appeared on the web a few years ago and has now been all over the world. See how you do:

• Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
• Name the last five Heisman Trophy winners.
• Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
• Name 10 people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
• Name the last six Academy Award winners for best actor or actress.
• Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

Here’s the point: These are not second-rate achievers — they are among the very best in their fields. But virtually none of us remembers the headliners of yesterday. The applause dies. The awards tarnish. Achievements are soon lost in the haze of yesterdays. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners. Continue reading