Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to put yourself in a good mood

The following is a portion of Dr. Zimmerman's latest "Tuesday Tip".  To subscribe to his free weekly tips, sign up here 

This story helped me start off my day right, I hope it does the same for you. 

Bill Lee is one of my role models when it comes to serving others. Bill says, "Based on my experience ... the best and least expensive cure for depression is to be proactive about doing something for someone who is worse off than you are." And Bill knows what he's talking about.

But let me tell who Bill Lee is. He's one of eight members of an elite group known as "Master Speakers International," eight professional speakers who are tops in their field and a household name to millions. I've had the privilege of being one of those eight members for the last twelve years, and those seven other people have blessed my life and my career in ways I never could have imagined.

Bill taught me that one of the best ways to stop complaining is to start serving others. Eleven years ago, Bill was introduced to mission work at an orphanage in Mexico. Since then, in addition to his full-time speaking and consulting business, Bill has made 50 trips to Mexico to work with the orphaned and abandoned children of Casa Hogar La Familia ... all at his own expense.

As Bill puts it, "I can't possibly say enough about the personal benefits of giving service to others. I have learned so much about happiness from a group of 30 children who have no material things whatsoever." No toys. No electronics. No brand-name clothing. In fact, each child has a cubby hole in their dorm room that is 15 inches wide and 36 inches high that contains 100% of everything they own.

"And I tell you this," Bill continues, "these same children are enormously happy. They almost never fight ... cry ... or complain. I never return from a mission trip that I am not amazed ... compared to other nations in the world ... how rich we are in this country ... and how much time we spend complaining that we don't have even MORE."

Because most of these children have been abandoned by their parents ... virtually all of them have good reasons to be bitter and selfish. Yet they're not. They are amazingly generous in their service to others.

Take Arturo, for example. Bill has seen him grow from age 5 to his present age of 16. Arturo is the second oldest of four children ... all of whom have lived at La Familia virtually all of their lives. And like the other children, Arturo has no personal possessions.

During one of the mission trips Bill led to La Familia, one of his team mates gave Arturo a straw hat he had purchased to wear while in Mexico. On the last day of our mission trip, they bought a large cake and had a big birthday party for all of the children who were celebrating birthdays during that particular month. One of the birthday boys was named Cesar.

During the celebration, Arturo came running over to the man who had given him the hat and was rattling off a mile a minute in Spanish. The man didn't speak any Spanish, so he asked Bill what Arturo was saying. Bill told him that Arturo wanted permission to give his hat to Cesar as a birthday present.

You have to understand ... Arturo loved that hat. He wore it every minute of the day. He even slept in the hat. After all, that straw hat represented 100% of everything Arturo owned in this world, yet he wanted to give it to Cesar as a gift.

As Bill finished his commentary, he said, "Living a life that includes being of service to others ... is always more beneficial to the giver ... than it is to the recipient." You learn to practice an attitude of gratitude when you're serving others and you just naturally stop the complaining habit.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The problem with the Lions, Rotary, and Service Groups

I just don't get it.  People who participate in service groups like the Jaycees, the Lions and Rotary not only volunteer their time to make a difference in their community and the world, but they actually PAY to be a part of these organizations.  This is crazy!

Sure it feels good to help others, but I hear the yearly dues can reach up to $100?  I don't understand.  $100 bucks to volunteer?!  What is wrong with these people?  Seriously!  Don't they realize we're in a recession? 

Ok, I admit it.  I belong to a service group.  I'm a Rotarian, and up until three months ago, I was also a (gasp!) Lion.  For a couple of years I was in two service groups at the same time.  I'm a crazy person.  I pay to volunteer.  And I tell you what, it is worth every penny.

To me the best part of being a Rotarian and Lion are the people.  There's nothing quite like a room of dedicated people willing to make a difference.  These are giving people.  These are people with big hearts, and these are people who know how to have fun.  One of the biggest "selling points" a Lion made to me in jest was, "Join the Lions, we're a bunch of dudes who like to give away a bunch of money and drink beer."  Say no more!  When's the next meeting?

A unique feature of the Rotary Club in Le Sueur is the shenanigans of two very distinguished fine masters.  Bob and Bruce.  A pair of jokesters.  When I first joined Rotary, I wasn't sure what a fine master was.  Until I was fined.  They fined me $1 for my name badge.  Then I was fined for wearing a jacket!  I am very careful with my money, and I hate to lose it, so I didn't like being fined.  Was I gonna be out a $1 or more at each of these meetings?  Then a weird thing happened, I actually looked forward to getting fined and donating $1 to the cause.   It's hard to explain, but a fine is kinda like a "welcome to the group, we're glad you're here" type of gesture. 

Most service clubs meet once a month.  Some meet once a week for breakfast or lunch.  All do great things for the community.  I've enjoyed my time volunteering at Fish Fry's, Pancake breakfasts, and even selling tickets for various fundraisers, the money raised always makes the community stronger.  But for me the best part of being a Lion or a Rotarian are the good people in it.  No matter how crazy they appear on the outside, it's always good to be in the company of those who help others.  

I encourage you to check out a meeting and find out more about the service groups in your community.   Tell them Nate told you to drop on by.   


Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Have you ever said something negative about someone, only to discover that person was in earshot from you?  I confess, this has happened to me more than I care to admit. 

While watching a high school baseball game I made some critical comments about one individual athlete on the home team.  I spoke about the lack of talent and intelligence in this young lad (putting it nicely).  A few moments later, I noticed the player's mother was one row in front of me.  Open mouth, insert foot.

Last week, I said some unflattering things about a parent, only to realize the parent's son was right next to me.  Then it dawned on me.  Just about every time I open my big mouth to cut another person down, it bites me in the rear.  I don't necessarily think the negative outcomes are a coincidence. 

On the flip-side, it seems to me, that treating others well can have some unintended positive consequences.  

During my college years I shared some education classes with a girl named Kathy.  Kathy was a fun-loving gal with a good heart.  During the course of a semester I got to know Kathy better and became friends with her.  Turns out Kathy grew up just 25 minutes from my hometown of Jordan.  She lived in Le Sueur, the land of the Jolly Green Giant.

After college, Kathy and I lost contact and went our separate ways.

Seven years pass after college, and a posting for a community education director opens.  In Le Sueur.  Kathy's hometown.  Before this opening I had been applying for community education director positions at many school districts in the Twin Cities metro area, only to receive numerous rejection letters.  For the better part of 11 years, I had been putting all my efforts into becoming a community ed. director.

For whatever reason, the job in Le Sueur felt promising.  So I sent in my cover letter and resume.  Weeks pass after the application deadline, and I don't hear anything.  Not a good omen.  Then on a Friday morning, I received a call from the Le Sueur-Henderson school district superintendent asking for an interview the next week. 

In between rehearsing answers to possible interview questions, and researching the school district, our family decided to go to chutes and ladders in Bloomington.  Funny thing happened there.  I ran into Kathy, the only person I've ever met from Le Sueur.  "I think this is a sign," my wife mentions to me.

It gets better.

Naturally Kathy and I discuss what we've been doing the past seven years, and I bring up that I have an interview at the school in Le Sueur.  Then Kathy says, "Did you know my dad works for the school as the district accountant?"

Are you serious!  What are the chances of running into Kathy, and her dad works for the district I am applying to, and has strong connections with the man who will be hiring me!?  Unbelievable!

When we returned home that afternoon, we found it humorous to see the legion baseball team just happened to be playing Le Sueur.

A day after the interview, I was offered the job.  Coincidence?  I'm not sure.  I like to think God had something to do about it.  Did Kathy's dad put in a good word for me?  I don't know.  However, I do know that if I was a jerk to Kathy, her father would have raised some red flags about me, and I wouldn't have been hired.  

Talk about a reason to treat people with love and respect.  You never know if the relationships you have with others, or the way you talk about others, will open or close doors for you.