Tag Archives: Character

12 Lessons in Character – from a Puppy

puppiesphoto courtesy Terry Bain, Flickr

“I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the “lower animals” (so called) and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me.” ~Mark Twain

Perhaps one of the very best way I know to simultaneous test and develop your CHARACTER is to adopt a puppy.

I’ve now had two dogs and I can attest to the powerful impact dog ownership has had on the development of my character. My first dog, Hercules was a mini-Lab I adopted when I was 22. He was about eight weeks old at the time. That was perhaps the scariest and greatest commitment of my life to that point. He passed away 15 years later and thanks to him so many great fortunes crossed my path – starting with my wife.

When I adopted ‘Herc’ I was still in college, no job, no real responsibility. Continue reading

Competition is GREAT and why losing is often FAR BETTER

“If you ain’t first, you’re last. You know, you know what I’m talking about? ” ~Ricky Bobby

“Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” ~Vincent Lombardi

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” ~Michael Jordan

My morning run typically ends at a park. Given that summer has just started more than a few dozen kids can be found running around and playing on any given morning. In between sets, (pushups/pullups) I notice that seemingly everywhere kids are competing; racing on foot, racing on bikes (one tiny kid had a bike that didn’t even have peddles and was racing!) everywhere I looked kids were playing tag, soccer, etc. Then, it spilled out of my mouth; jaw dropped, ipod blaring in my ears, “duh, (i said to me) competition IS natural.”

News flash! It’s human nature to compete. However, somewhere between when I was six years old and my daughter turned six we became “NICE”. You know, no winners and no losers. “Don’t worry Jimmy, just feel good.” Sarah, (who scored 3 goals) looks confused as we explain why she didn’t actually win. “there are no winners Sarah.”

While there are many larger societal challenges at the moment this one is on my radar. When and WHY did we decide we could reverse thousands of years of competitive evolution and teach kids NOT to compete? Does anyone think Sarah really believes there are no winners? Who thinks the Olympic games are going to disappear anytime soon? Guess what, kids know better instinctively.

Continue reading

Phelps, Phun & Consequences

michael phelps

“Youth is wasted on the young.”
~ George Bernard Shaw

With all the excitement about Michael Phelps in the media recently, I felt it was a good time to jump in, but not necessarily pile on. If, for some reason you haven’t heard, Phelps was photographed with his face half-way down a water pipe (bong), less than ideal if you’ve just brought back a record eight Gold medals for your country and you have endorsements that total into the multi-millions.

My take on this is fairly straightforward – one very stupid decision. Having said that, the general public has absolutely no idea how tightly wound this kid has been since a very young age. Just try to imagine the patience, discipline and focus he’s had to practice and endure for not just a few years, but the majority of his young life! He is only 23. And, while I absolutely think it was a grave mistake, I’m hopeful we all recognize he is a young man. Young people make mistakes and then hopefully learn from them.

Try to imagine you are 23 years old and on the cover of every magazine from TIME to PEOPLE – you’re a national celebrity, yet, you just want to relate to your peers WITHOUT all the hype. You want to fit-in and be like the others, without the celebrity. My guess is that was his desire in that social/party type atmosphere. Sure, the way he went about it was less than ideal, but his intentions were innocent. He certainly didn’t set out to let people down, tarnish the image of a country, or jeopardize endorsements or a swimming career.

Talent will get you to the top, but it’s character that will keep you there.”
~ John Wooden

To me, this is where his story actually becomes interesting. Continue reading

The Gift of Responsibility or Responsibility is JOB #1!

sweepingmonk 3 ronn ashore

“If you do the things you ought to do–when you ought to do them–the day will come when you can do the things you want to do–when you want to do them!”
~ Zig Ziglar.

Anyone can make an excuse-and many people do. You, from this point forward are different. You have the mindset that anything is achievable and that taking total responsibility for where you are right now and where you are headed is Job #1!

Making excuses–whether conscious or unconscious–may be the number-one reason for people’s poor character development, and therefore the perpetual and futile attempt to realize their ideal future – their success.

Remember this: NOTHING IS EASIER THAN MAKING EXCUSES. NOTHING IS HARDER THAN TAKING RESPONSIBILITY.

If something is hard–if it’s a challenge–you are on the right track. And, yes, that is a belief system. However, it is my direct experience that when beliefs are aligned with timeless principles; that is, where belief systems intersect with timeless principles such as, challenge creates growth – desires and dreams tend to manifest much more quickly.

In Dr. Dyer’s book “The Power of Intention” he speaks of something very similar – which is aligning your personal character traits and actions with that of the “Creator”. In the book he lists seven characteristics; creativity, love, kindness, beauty, receptivity, abundance, expansiveness. As it relates to your dreams unfolding – a critical alignment component for you is to be sure both your beliefs and character traits align with these timeless principles. I highly recommend you read this book.

Why do the Marines and other armed forces throw so much adversity; literally, difficulty after difficulty at their young recruits? Continue reading

Flexibility & The Adaptability Factor – Part Deux

flexibility adaptability

“It’s not the strongest of the species nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

~Charles Darwin

Change Happens.

NOW is a great time to determine how flexible and adaptable you are.

It’s hilarious to me that many people can’t wrap their head around PD (personal development) as though there’s a sort of stigma attached to it which likely originated from the designation of the “Self-Help” category publishers are so fond of using. What’s ‘funny’ about it of course is these are the same people who think they are perfect (the problem is everyone else) and yet, for some reason they’re not sure why they don’t have more ’success’ in life.

Who knows? All I know is that without the constant pursuit of personal development/improvement to outpace the compounding effects of change along with the mindset to embrace and accept the challenges said change brings about, my life would be very different.

“It takes humility to seek feedback. it takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it, and appropriately act on it.
~ Stephen R. Covey

I’m truly of the school of thought that Covey speaks of. Consider his above quote, Humility – the ability to seek feedback, to listen, be aware and self-correct by appropriately acting. To refine one’s Character (the 2nd C). Such action requires humility and intelligence but most importantly as Darwin points out, it requires the adaptability to change!

Hence, the reason I’m seemingly addicted to PD (personal development) to “Sharpening the Saw” (Covey’s 7th Habit of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”) and helping others to create such awareness. Hence, the creation of “The 3 C’s of SUCCCESS,” a motivational eBook outlining a simplified approach of the three essential requirements for ANY person to create their ideal future. All contained within the context of constant self-improvement.

By pursuing personal development one: a) acknowledges and embraces the concept that life is not static. That they must learn, adapt and grow just to keep pace with the world (at the very least) and to excel in the best case scenario. And, b) helps to remind people that if they continue to do the same things they did yesterday, last week or last year (even if they were successful) they are in for a rude awakening.

We are curious creatures indeed! The evidence is all around us. Take the auto, photo or publishing industries as a few basic examples. What once worked for any of these – what once made each super successful and provided large profits has now become obsolete! The old products, processes and methodologies won’t suffice. Change not only happens – it’s inevitable. TIME TAKES NO PRISONERS! So why – prêt ell, do you think you can continue to do the same things you did yesterday, last week or last year and achieve favorable results?

The U.S. education system is another brutal reminder of the powerful affects of change when we fail to adapt! Today, nearly 50% of our high school kids drop out! Frankly, I don’t blame them. We are teaching our kids the same curriculum the same way we did in the 1950s! Pardon my French, but that is retarded in the truest definition of the word. (definition: 1. To keep delaying; to continue to hinder; to prevent from progress; to render more slow in progress; to impede; to hinder; as, to retard the march of an army; to retard the motion of a ship; — opposed to accelerate). Our education system is retarded.

Today’s high school kids are smarter, more technologically savvy and in some cases better equipped for the present work environment perhaps, than many of the teachers. Yet, you’d never know it due to the large numbers of kids who drop out. I have personal experience with a super bright 17 year old that was so bored by the curriculum and the uninspired methods of teaching that he dropped out. He then went on to ace the Science portion of the G.E.D. with very little preparation.

I could go on about the education system and how ‘broke’ it is. Yet, this isn’t designed to slam the teachers who are just doing what is asked of them and are severely underpaid. It’s simply another illustration of the importance to acknowledge the powerful affects of change and the obligation we ALL have to keep up with it – to simply adapt or perish.

Win Friends & Influence People: Four Images You Need to Know

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All photos Flickr: Titanic by moore fun, Smooth Handle by Weeping-Willow
Harp By Canonsnapper, Shoes photo by 7-how-7

YOU need everyone’s help to become successful – to realize your ideal future (period).

Since “no one is as smart as everyone” and inter-dependence (TEAMwork) is the highest form of maturity, (see maturity continuum, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey) you will, at some point in your life – come to recognize this truth, hopefully sooner rather than later.

The great news is, everyone will make you successful much faster than no one. So, if you think you can go it alone – you’re in for a rude awakening. This is elaborated upon fully in “The 3 C’s” – a sobering lesson for me indeed!

Respectfully submitted for your review are four images (above) to be mindful of as you interact with other people (yes, relatives are people too) on a daily basis. These four images are tied to various interpersonal anecdotes which provide sage guidance and insight for you along your way to creating your ideal future.

Titanic

Simply put, has there ever been a bigger ego than the titanic? “The unsinkable ship.

Ooops… they probably shouldn’t have called it that. Talk about catastrophe! On your personal course to success and as you interact with people – try to become a different ship, try to become the “USS Non-Ego” that is, remove your ego to enjoy stress free sailing through the waters of life. To reiterate that point, I once heard, “It’s the whale who spouts off that gets harpooned.” Both suggest the very same thing – control your ego! Ego – in nearly every instance breeds friction and if you want to get to your destination faster, smoother and with energy to spare I highly recommend you remove the your ego. The next time you are feeling the urge to boast about some great accomplishment – the next time you are feeling “unsinkable” just remember the Titanic!

Smooth Handle

“Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.” Thomas Jefferson.

Initially, the brilliance of that quote escaped me. However, if TJ is talking – probably makes sense to listen. So, upon further review, that bit of wisdom has stuck with me for the last fourteen years. I used to be a very argumentative person and I loved it! Look, I knew I was right. The best part is, I would always defend my point to the end. Looking back, this tip alone could have accelerated the realization of my goals and ideal future by a few years and I’m a little disappointed i didn’t learn that one quicker.

Always seek ways to find the smooth handle in personal relationships and, in particular when friction does arise in any particular discussion or argument just remember everyone has an opinion. As I heard a General say in an interview being questioned on Iraq,

“The great thing about and opinion is you don’t have to know anything to have one.”

So many people have gotten into the habit of arguing just for arguments’ sake. Consider that, if anyone can have an opinion and you don’t have to know anything to have one – how about just detaching – WHO CARES! Reconsider what you are arguing about. How important is it? Seems important I’m sure – I’d humbly suggest you reconsider your motives – is there ego involved? Do you really need to convince her that “meat is bad for you”. Do you really need him to know that “we’d be so much better off with nuclear power plants.” What I’ve learned to say now is – instead of arguing, “interesting, I guess that is what makes the world go round.” Truly, when you can embrace the diversity and detach from the opinions and an argumentative state – you will be grabbing things by the “smooth handle” as TJ recommended.

HARMONY

Has there ever been a greater band than the Beatles? (good job, that is an opinion – so let it go). The point isn’t whether the Beatles were the greatest band – really, but for purposes of illustration would like you to consider they were one of the most harmonious bands ever. Literally, phenomenal harmonies. So what? So, this is the learning image for us to consider (us visual learners) Harmony – harmony in ALL affairs. I just recently heard a brilliant young entrepreneur speak about the greatest danger to any company – particularly a startup is internal friction. Seeking harmony – finding harmony in all relationships goes a long way to ensure your individual success and that of your team or company.

OLD SHOE

Finally, there’s the old shoe. Is there anything better, more comfortable and inviting than the old shoe? Consider all you’ve been through together. They don’t say too much. They don’t talk behind your back, they are just there for you when you need them. They are easy to put on (frictionless) and they are highly reliable. Norman Vincent Peal wrote about his in The Power of Positive Thinking. When you have become the old shoe to other people, that is; easy to be around, comfortable, trustworthy, reliable and non-threatening, you will have strengthened your interpersonal skills putting you on the fast track to creating your ideal future.

BON VOYAGE

So there you have it, four images intended to aid you in your interpersonal dealings and relationships. It was said earlier but is worth repeating, you will need everyone’s help to realize your ideal future – your success. Ego creates friction and friction prevents you from arriving at your destination and goals either on time or altogether. As Lao Tzu put it thousands of years ago, “The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world,” recognize that you don’t have to fight, argue, bully to get your way. Slow is fast when you are dealing with people as Mr. Covey points out and, you can only be efficient with things and effective with people.

So, in order to advance most rapidly toward your success, you will find many a time that it’ll make sense to take a step back in your old shoes while listening to The Beatles and grabbing the smooth handle on the “USS Non-Ego”.

To your continued smooth sailing… enjoy.

~MWS