Today is Day 11,998

The average adult in the United States will live to 77 years of age. 
Males a few years less, and females a few years more.  For this blog we will stick with the average for everyone.  Did you ever think about how many days you might have left?  Take your current age, subtract it from 77 and multiply by 365.25 days to see how many you have left.
Does this sound crazy?  The most successful people in the world know this number….it keeps them focused.
How precious is time to you?  What importance do you put on it in turns of prioritizing your work schedule, family time, practicing of faith, caring for yourself, or planning finances, etc?  Some of the most successful people in the world have grasped the concept of time as the most precious item in life, and they realize it is finite.
Do they hoard it and fear it?  Absolutely not.  Do they spend
it recklessly?  Absolutely not.  They have realized it’s the ONLY “item” they can not get more of and they don’t even know how much they have.  As a result they utilize every moment against a plan, a priority…more importantly a combination of each.
The first realization they have to put time in perspective is to
realize at best what they might have and keep it in focus so they do not waste it.  They use this number to keep on track toward their ultimate vision.  If the activity does not fit the vision and even wastes time then they learn how to say no.  Do you know how to say no?  To many this may sound cold, but its not because the plan for their life prioritizes what is important and they guard those values, those principles, those precious moments like life itself depends on it…because it does.
The most successful in the world realize time can not be saved, nor is it endless.  To keep reminded of this, they keep track of the days they MIGHT have left.  Everything else becomes crystal clear as to how to live a successful, happy, precious life.  Today is 11,998 for me.  If I live to the average life expectancy, I only have 11,998 days left.  Makes me want to go do what is important, to put things in perspective, to treat others like they deserve to be treated even in the face of the stress we face everyday! 

What day is it for you?

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Now or Never

It comes in so many forms:  fact or fiction, myth or reality, truth or lie, perception or reality….you name it.  It comes down to can it be proven or is it someones perception?  Your perception is your reality, unless you choose to live in a state of real awareness.  Can you be truly objective when it comes to yourself?  Do you inflate yourself with no basis?  Or do you compare your actions against your results to see where you stand?

It is not an easy thing to do.  Heck, its easy to evaluate others, find their faults or tell them what they need to do.  But how about you?  Can you do that for you?

Its now or never for you, either you address where you are today against where you want to be and access is that what you want, or you give up getting to the life you want.

Its never to late until you arrive at the end of your life, and possibly ask yourself the question….was that the life I wanted or just accepted?

Why not ask today instead of at the end?

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The Boy as the Mirror

Time and time again we will hear that we need to look into the mirror to evaluate ourselves, to look inside our very soul and discover who we are.  As the year ends many will suggest we look back on the year to see what and how we did, then plan for a new year to be better than the last.  The self reflection can be good for us, and it can be deceiving.  We are looking into a mirror to evaluate ourselves based on our own view, our own eyes.  How do we really know if our “answers” are correct?  If we put into play our behaviors how do we really look to other people?  Are our mannerisms in line with what we want others to see and believe?  Do we do anything annoying to those around us?  What do people think of us and who we are? 

None of “THAT” shows up in the mirror…unless we believe our biased views.How about putting “all the things we do” into a prototype of us to see how we work in the world.  Try the “boy in the mirror”!  I saw “boy in the mirror” because my son is a walking image of me…not in how he looks but in how he behaves.  He does what I do because he watches me!  He does what I do because I tell him what to do AND He does what I do even though I tell him not to do it.  There in lies the amazing boy in the mirror lesson….what are others doing around me because of what I do, what I say and what I don’t say?How good was my year?  How good will my year be?  Take advantage of the blessings around us, and see the wonder through the actions of a son, daughter, team member, direct report, friend, neighbor…

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Why So Happy?

Recently I was approached and asked, “Why so happy?” At first I was taken back by the question and I was almost mad. Why would someone question why someone is happy? Are they trying to remove happiness, so that that happy person becomes as sad as the questioner? Is the questioner sad and trying to find a way to be happy? As if they can not find it themselves?

I stopped all the questioning…and thought. It is amazing what shutting off the internal voices asking all the questions does. It releases the body to act. It was at this point I realized that the answer was, “Why not so happy? because its boring.” Being unhappy is not about being depressed or sad or in a bad mood, it is in fact being bored silly and maybe even a member of the walking dead.

Remember the last time you truly lived! Maybe it was 30 years ago when you hit the game winning home run in little league…maybe it was the day of your wedding 20 years ago…maybe it was the day you graduated college 10 years ago…maybe it was the day you found happiness. Make it today and everyday forward!

Good luck….email me if you are having trouble finding it.

inspire excellence

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Time to be a Human Alarm Clock.

Many have asked, what does it take to be an alarm clock for your team, your family, your organization, or for the one in the mirror….it takes choice.  Do you have it in you?  We all do, few choose to act.

Ben Franklin said, “There are some who are immovable, there are some that are moveable, then there are some that move.” 

Are you ready to move, and be the one person that people remember as the one they long to remember, the one who picked them up when they are down, the one who made them laugh, or even the one that made them cry?

Consider the thought of the “breaking news alert”, or major events in the world or in your life….when those extra ordinary events occur we actually wake up and realize the important things in life are all around us.  At times of tragedy, we pull ours families closer and appreciate life.  When the extra ordinary becomes just ordinary we fade back to the banality of living….we fade back to sleep.

What if that could be different?  What if instead of awakening only when the news hits the headlines, we wake every day with the knowledge of how special this day is?   What if you or I could be the one to be the headlines and touch people every day to “wake up” and live this day like it is meant to be lived?

Human alarm clocks are like that….they pass us by on the street and touch us with a smile, a genuine good morning, a holding of the door, a compliment, a moment of engagement that brightens our day.  We can all be human alarm clocks if we so choose…it takes a concerted effort to be such a clock, and when we are the world around us changes and so do we.

inspire excellence

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When is it time to wake up?

Poll after poll, survey after survey of all of us continues to show that the majority of people don’t like their job, are unhappy and have no plan to change anything.  What is the secret of the minority of the human race, who loves their job, is happy and are working their plan?

I submit to you that they have awoken, and live their life as if it’s their last day, EVERY DAY.  And the magic happens by their own choice. 

Most of us go through life surprised when something out of the ordinary happens.  It is at those moments that we wake up.  And when we are awake we appreciate life, change our priorities, show gratitude, appreciate those around us and love our loved ones most of all.  The “out of ordinary” event fades in time and we go back to sleep, back to the banality of living, to the job we don’t like, to the unhappiness we have and to no plan to change anything.  We essentially go back to sleep.

What am I talking about?  We are all mortal, yet when our best friend passes we wake up.  We realize how limited our time is and promise to change around our priorities, but then we fade back to sleep and do things like we always did.  It’s as if we forget we all have a limited time, and we take it for granted that tomorrow is coming.

The lesson here is choice.

My awakening came due to a tragedy, and every day since I have remained awake to the joy of life.  My hope for you is that your choice is made without having to wait for a tragedy that may never come.  For the tragedy is in the waiting to live.

Copyright March 2011 mpetroski reprint possible with permission

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Are you willing to admit who you are?

It takes great strength to do just that.  Few people ever do it.  Are you one of them?  Most of us have information that we do not want others to learn, yet when our closets are finally opened there comes with it pain and liberation.  No, we all do not have large skeletons that we have to fear, yet everyone has examples of embarrassment, failure, missed opportunities that hold us back.  Maybe we have been burned in the past and we are more careful about what we share.  We stay in our comfort zone by keeping to ourselves and not truly admitting who we are.  I am not proposing you climb to the tallest mountain and shout to the world your story.  However, I am proposing you open up to those people who are important in your life…your husband, your wife, your kids, your parents, the people around you that you see every day, a far away friend.  And if you don’t have any of these any more, then I submit to you if you want to live as full a life as possible and to be truly happy….then go learn how to be a friend.  Not a Twitter friend, not a Facebook friend, not a text friend….but a real, live, breathing friend.

In an age when 20% of our population has admitted to no close personal friendships and another 40% having only one friend.  Is it any wonder we may have lost our ability to become a friend and to connect with people? 

Let’s change direction….and change our own state…go get to know the people around you.  If you haven’t had a real conversation with someone this week…then start one with your mom, your dad, your brother or sister, your neighbor, your coworker, your grocery clerk, your delivery person, your teacher, your accountant, your garage collector, your town clerk……

….if you want a challenge, if you are up for a challenge….then admit who you really are, and start changing your friendships, your happiness, your life.  Learning how to communicate with others may be the one skill, if honed, can change your level of happiness in the world overnight.  It starts with admitting who you are.

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What is YOUR perception?

Your perception is your reality; it is how you believe the world exists and is defined.  You live your life based on this perception, you make choices based on this perception, and you react based on this perception.  Only the strongest among us realizes this consciously.  The rest of us, plod along thinking our perception is reality not only of ourselves but of everyone around us….as if our perception is the only one among the earth’s inhabitants.  This belief results in a “waking state of sleepwalking”.  We are not physically sleeping, yet we are stuck in a state of repetitive behavior which is as if we are not thinking at all, “just going through the motions”, in essence “wakeful sleep walking”.

 I submit to you that when we truly wake up and realize that there is beauty all around us in the form of other minds with thoughts, beliefs, values, and dreams and other ways of seeing the world…that our own personal worldly view is not the only one out there…we become cognitively aware.  Other people have other perspectives, and if we as a living, breathing, wakeful individual can pause and realize we may not have the only view on the world, then the ability to make real, impactful change is in the palm of our hands.

 The comical part of this is that many reading this, including myself, will say that is a childish, simplistic thought.  Yet when in the process of living life, we fail to realize this at the time we need to.  We fail to put into practice the simple and obvious methods that would make each of us wildly successful in our chosen field….whether it’s in business, in science, in athletics, or in our personal relationships with those we love most.

 It is the classic “other mind” problem.  Is it a problem?  Absolutely not.  Yet it is an arena that needs to be understood to make contact, create awareness, lead change, and foster the things most important in our own individual life.

We must recognize that what is important in our own individual life is as much affected by how we see the world as how we realize others see it.  What is THEIR perception?

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When do we know we have built trust?

I was riding my bike along side my young daughter as she rode her bike. She is just learning now to ride her bike, and has spent most of her time learning confined to the sidewalk. On this bike trip, we venture for the first time out on the street! To a young child who knows not to go in the street, this is exciting. I am stressing the entire ride to use caution and stay close to the curb since this is the first time out there. Even on a quite neighborhood street we get traffic regularly, and she handles it well. So well, she begins to look around as comfort sets in that she has mastered her new world, the street. Every once in a while we come up on a car parked in the street. We have to leave the relative safety of the curb and venture further out in to the middle. Caution ensues. She quickly masters this too. She approaches a parked car, carefully pulls out and around and then dives back to the safe curb. Even this becomes routine and she reverts to looking around even though we are still in the dangerous area of street riding. Short cuts begin, distance from the curb increases, and I am forced to remind her that we still have to practice safety. She pushes the limit, waits until the last moment to move around the parked cars, but does it safely every time. Now just before we get back to the safety of our sidewalk in front of our house, there is one more parked car to go around. She is not watching, she waits until the last possible moment to go around…but it is too late. She hits the bumper of this parked car hard enough to firmly secure her front tire underneath the car.
Interestingly enough she knew a split second before impact that she made her mistake. She actually started to apologize to me for hitting the car BEFORE impact. As a parent I wanted to reach out and grab her to save her, yet at times even the desire is not great enough to overcome the mistake. I could not reach her in time.
Two things were learned that day WITHOUT anyone getting hurt or upset. My daughter learned that Daddy is actually right sometimes, and that his words are meant to protect. She is much more responsive to feedback from me, because she knows I have her best interest in mind. Secondly, she knows this because she trusts me that even when she makes a mistake I will not get mad at her. Rather, she knows I will help her succeed, grow and learn.
Can I, as a leader of people, follow these same principles in the professional work environment? Developing trust between leader and follower, practice open and honest feedback, and have the best interest of your people in mind? Absolutely! The resulting team performance is incredible.

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How Do You Take Other’s Answers?

Not too long ago, I asked my three year old daughter, “what is higher in the sky, the moon or an airplane?”  She said, “An airplane.”  Her answer at first made me wonder how she could say that, until I thought about where she was coming from.  When I asked her why, she simply said, “well Dad, a cow can jump over the moon.”  Did I feel dumb.  She was approaching the world from what she knows.  Who doesn’t right?  The key is can you and I be open to the fact that not everyone has experienced everything in life yet, and that we are all at some stage of learning.  Can we be patient enough to help each other learn about the pitfalls, around the barriers, and through the woods?

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