Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Law of attraction

I read a facebook status update today from an old high school friend and it reminded me about a funny, although thought provoking routine from best selling author and speaker Andy Andrews:

Do you have someone in your life, either at work or in your family that you never dare ask the question, "So how are you doing?" Because you know, the answer will take 10 minutes and go something like,  "Well, you wouldn't believe it, it's just one thing after another, I mean after last year, and this year it's been no different - It seems like every time things start to turn around, a big semi-load back ups and dumps their crap all over us again.  I don't know what it is, but our lives keep getting worse and worse."  

Do you know someone like that?

How do you respond to that?  "Great!  Let's spend the weekend together!"  No, if you're like me you say, "Well, we'll be thinking about you.  See you later!"

You know what I think about these people - the whiny, groaning, complaining people who think their lives are getting worse and worse?  Their lives really ARE getting worse and worse.  My high school facebook friend, all they ever write for their facebook status... is how bad their life stinks. 

And here's one reason why things keep getting worse for them.

Nobody wants to be around them.  We get our information and our opportunities from the people around us - and if nobody wants to be around us, guess what?  Yup, you guessed it.  Less opportunities and less useful information.

Subconsciously, when I coached basketball I was drawn to the athletes that wanted to get better, that hustled and had a good attitude.  I find that to be true today as I run with the high school cross country team - the kids that pay attention and have that drive to improve seem to draw the coaches in. 

In 1996, I remember the press conference that was held to announce Kirby Puckett's retirement, at that time Kirby Puckett was Minnesota's favorite athlete.  Tom Kelly recalled how lucky he was to have the hardest working athlete on his Twins team also be the most talented.   He was Tom Kelly's favorite.  Kirby wasn't perfect, but there is no doubt in my mind that his character and charisma helped advance his career.

Just like in sports, the people that go after big goals in life seem to attract people.  They draw us in, and what makes this even more interesting, I believe we are drawn to people who have overcome obstacles to obtain their goals.  Because haven't we all had setbacks?  They give us hope that we ourselves can accomplish the goals that are sometimes buried deep within us.

Dig up those goals deep inside, you never know who you'll attract in your life.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Story of Billy Miske

The following is a true story about a Minnesota boxer in the early 1900's. It shows the power of your mind.

In the ring Billy Miske had the skill and heart to beat any opponent, but outside the ring, he couldn't defeat the disease that was eating away at his body. His illness should have caused him to retire, instead he choose to sacrifice his health for the benefit of his family.

William Arthur "Billy" Miske was an American boxer of German descent who competed successfully as a light-heavyweight and heavyweight, defeating many well-known fighters such as Tommy Gibbons and Harry Greb. But unknown to both his competitors and his family, he was harboring a troubling secret. In the spring of 1918, Billy's doctor had diagnosed him with a debilitating kidney ailment called Bright's disease. Given only five years to live and the advice to immediately retire, Billy decided to keep his illness a secret and continue his boxing career.

In addition to his health Billy took the advice of friends and started his own car distributorship business. Thinking the business would help support his family after his death. However, the automobile business was something that he had no experience or knowledge of. This business cost Billy almost $100,000 dollars in debt, so despite his doctor's wishes he continued to take on boxing opponents in order to pay off his debt and provide for his family. He did the one thing he was good at.

Boasting an impressive record, that included only one knockout at the hands on none other than Jack Dempsey, Billy climbed into the ring 30 times after being told of his “death sentence”. After each bought, Billy’s health declined. But fights were few and far between with his purse winnings going directly to paying of his large debts. In January of 1923, after knocking Harry Foley out in one round, his health began to deteriorate even more. Forced to stay home and rest through the spring, summer, and fall, Billy's concern for his family's security continued to grow. As he strolled through the streets during the first snowfall of the year, all Billy could do was think of how little he was able to provide for his wife and children and how bleak their upcoming Christmas would be.

Feeling worse every day, Billy went directly to his manager, Jack Reddy, and begged him for a fight. He pleaded with Jack to ignore his sickly appearance and get him one more bout before Christmas, so he could give his family the Christmas they deserve. A concerned Reddy fretted for his friend's life, but knew what he had to do and managed to set up a fight with an impressive and a physically bigger boxer named Bill Brennan. Billy was so weak that he couldn’t train for the fight and barely got out of his rocking chair until the day of the fight. But when fight night finally arrived, for those 12 minutes Billy was no longer a dying man. With thoughts of his family in his head, Billy fought Brennan valiantly, winning the fight with a knockout in the fourth round. As Billy Miske's arm was raised in the victor's salute he smiled at the crowd for the last time. Winning the fight enabled Billy to walk away to with substantial money.

He took the money back to his family in St. Paul, Minnesota paid off his remaining debt and bought furniture to fill the rooms in his house that had been empty for so long. He bought a piano for his wife Marie and toys for the children, and even had enough money left over for Marie to put aside for the future. Billy and his family had a joyous Christmas, by far the best ever for the Miske clan. But despite the wonderful Christmas festivities, Billy began to feel extremely sick and retired to his bedroom. Waking up the day after, Billy was in agony and called Jack, his manager and friend, to come and take him to the hospital. Billy was rushed to the doctor and forced to finally come clean with his wife about his secret illness. Six days later, on the morning of the New Year, Billy Miske passed away.

In June 2010, Billy Miske was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame

Story from www.billymiske.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where you're at is not as important as....

Two statements really struck me today.
1) Where you're at is not nearly as important as where you're headed, and
2) Your attitude toward your problem is the most important factor in overcoming
your problem.

My wife and I have been married for eight years and have had a happy marriage for about
seven of those eight years. Three years ago September was the beginning of our most difficult year of marriage. We purchased a small business. Awakenings Coffee Shop. The price was low and the thought of being our own boss was calling. Buying a coffee shop was all my wife Autumn could think about. I was, to put it nicely, hesitant. 

Autumn and I purchased the coffee shop for under $12,000 and took out a line of credit for start-up cash.  We opened the business in September.   Two months later Autumn's step-dad and only father figure died of cancer.  By December the coffee had lost so much money that our start-up cash was gone.  The coffee shop went from being a fun idea to a huge strain.  Fear was everywhere.  Anxiety filled Autumn.  She couldn't eat and was constantly sick to her stomach.  I felt so much resentment towards my wife in causing this huge burden that I abandoned her.  Not physically, but mentally.  I blamed her for everything.  She walked alone when she needed a husband the most. 

That summer gas hit $4/gallon, and the great recession was starting, spelling more bad news for a struggling coffee shop.  By the fall we were looking to sell the coffee shop and fortunately were able to find a buyer by December. 

The selling of the coffee shop did not end our troubles.  The sale did not bring enough money to settle our debts.  Autumn and I would lick our wounds, and spend the next year healing our marriage and our finances.   

Which brings me to the point of today's post - where you're at is not as important as where you're headed.  The coffee shop, in a way has been a huge blessing for us.  Yes it was a dark hole in our career, marriage, and family - but through the struggle - I realized the importance of standing together as one with your spouse, and how and when to support her.   I love her more than ever.  On top of all the loving we are doing on one another, the financial hit the coffee shop brought us, sent my wife and I to a place we don't ever want to be again.  Broke!  Now we spend every dollar wisely.  We are close to being debt free and financial independence. (We just knocked down another debt last week)

I may not like where we are at - I know I don't like where we were - but I like where we are headed.

And I hope that gives you inspiration to head in the right direction.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Email can wait

Triathletes using their "strength"
What are you interested in?  What activity, when engaged, causes you to lose track of time?  Do you experience success in that interest?  Call it an interest, a spark, a strength, a passion, or my personal favorite, "your sweet spot" - whatever you call it - that activity makes you come alive and brings meaning to your life.  Without engagement in that spark/strength/passion, you may feel drained or even lost.  

The past year I have spent a good number of hours researching and reading about strengths.   Specifically, how to discover your strengths and how to put them to work for you.  I am convinced, more then ever, that spending time in your areas of strengths will give you more personal growth than you ever imagined and lead to a more fulfilling career and life. 

Two strength stories.  The first one is a story of what happens when strengths aren't identified:
The Search Institute studied the effect of teachers who recognize and share their area of interest with their students (be it music, sports, or a hobby), compared to teachers who don't exhibit an interest in any area.  Search Institute found that teachers who don't show an interest in anything actually hurt the academic performance of their students.  Repeat, teachers who don't show an interest in sports, music, art, or anything else, HURT the academic performance of students in their classroom.  I'll let you draw your own conclusions of why that happens. 
The second story is one from our own backyard. It is a powerful example of what happens when you discover and use your strengths.  It's the story of Andrew Gerdts - a cross country runner for Le Sueur-Henderson High School who transformed his life when he discovered his gift.
To see what I'm talking about, check out the KARE 11 video of Andrew by clicking here. (It is about a 6 minute video)

Rick Warren in the Purpose Driven life explains,
"Like a proud parent, God especially enjoys watching you use the talents and abilities he has given you.  God intentionally gifted us differently for his enjoyment... all these abilities bring a smile to God's face.  You don't bring glory or pleasure to God by hiding your abilities or by trying to be somebody else.  You only bring enjoyment by being you.  Anytime you reject any part of yourself, you are rejecting God's wisdom in creating you."

Not only will using your strength bring more fulfillment in your life, but it also brings a smile to God's face.  I'd say those are good reasons to spend more time on your strengths.  Email can wait.