Sunday, May 26, 2013

Conquer Life's Challenges!


The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.



Challenges in life...we all have them, and yet we deal with them in different ways..... some of us get wrapped around the axle, stressed out and not sure how to proceed with the obstacle or issue at hand,  while others seems to tackle obstacles and issues head on with focus and what seems to be an ease of effort.


Just what are those individuals doing when faced with challenges in their life that allow them to readily acknowledge, address and conquer obstacles when they arise? 

The answer is they act upon whatever obstacles arise with thoughtful review, planning and execution.  They make a conscious decision to proceed with their plan based upon their understanding of the issue and then...... they do it.


Regardless of age, experience or knowledge, there are things we can all do when faced with a challenge or obstacle that will allow us to gather resources, create a plan of attack and resolve it with more focus and ease.


1.  Acknowledge its Existence:  Write the issue or obstacle down, and acknowledge its existence. 


2.  Worst Case Scenario:  Write down what you believe will happen if you do not address the issue.  Will there be a loss to you that really matters in your life, such as loss of a job or promotion, loss of  integrity or respect, loss of a relationship, financial loss or loss of something physical, like a house or a car?  Or after reviewing the worst case, is it not a serious issue...a loss you either do not care about or you consider it minor enough not to respond == Remember the book series  "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff"?


3.  Create a Response Plan:  Write down what you think it will take to resolve the issue, and if there is more than one way, list all possible alternatives that you can think of (including doing nothing).


4.  Rely on Good Resources: Tap into resources you will need to address the issue (i.e. money, research,  people with knowledge).


5. Choose a Response and ACT:  Select the alternative that makes the most sense to you, aligns with your values and that you can execute given your particular set of circumstances.


6. Maintain Control of your Response Plan:  Review throughout the process to see whether your chosen response is working and adjust if needed.  Did the plan work?  Trust me -- not all will, but the failures will teach us and make us better --that's called experience.


“Challenges in life can either enrich you or poison you.

  You are the one who decides.”  

  Steve Maraboli


Simply put, it's all about us controlling the issue/obstacle versus allowing it to control us. 


Action is the key.... your ability in dealing with life's obstacles will improve and your reactions will be calmer if you tackle the challenges with understanding and a well devised response plan.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Value of Family



About a month ago, I went to a family reunion for my mother's side of the family, held in a little lake town outside of Austin Texas.  We flew to Houston from Sacramento, drove to Austin, and I was excited with anticipation in getting to see aunts, uncles and cousins -  many of whom  I had not seen since childhood.


Why am I writing about this?  Because the trip was a reminder about why I am who I am....  a large determinant of who we are is where we came from our roots --and being around family again reminded me that my environment while growing up in many ways had an influence on who I am today.


The event was fun and somewhat emotional at the same time-- I really connected with several of our relatives-- Besides the typical hugs, stories, meeting the families, reminiscing, we also talked about and remembered our Grandfather, the common denominator to us all, and those family members no longer with us --including 2 of my mothers siblings and my younger brother, who passed away way too young from cancer. 


My biggest takeaways from the reunion, after being around my family after all these years were:


1).  Leave your ego and critical eye at the is a "safe haven"-- around our relatives we all get to be our self, without having the need to promote how successful we are, what we have, what we do, etc....most family members accept you for who you are and love you unconditionally without the need to promote your life's successes.  Conversely, you don't get to choose your family, so try to accept all in your family circle for who they are without a critical eye. 


2).  Traits....we all have personalities and as well idiosyncrasies about us that we cannot explain. After the reunion we spent 4 days with my half-brother in Houston (same dad, different mom) and my wife was continually laughing about traits that he and I share even though (excepting a few years when we were very young) we never grew up together.


3) Commonality...our ancestors are the common ground that links us.  Having been born in Texas, and seeing that most of my relatives on both sides of my family still live there (and that most have never lived anywhere else) it is interesting to note that even without the influence after age 9 of growing up in Texas that I fit right in with the local culture -- with the exception of drink preferences...not a big fan of sweet tea - I prefer mine unsweetened, and they just do not know how to make a proper martini in Mexican restaurants in Houston!


4) Connect and stay the end of the reunion, we all promised to stay in touch and to schedule the next one, and visit each other when possible.  Facebook, Facetime, Skype and cell phones/texting make it easier than ever to stay in touch.  One thing we all discussed is how time seems to fly by so quickly, and that it is so easy to get caught up in life and lose contact with those in your family circle.


It's a sad thing that some people don't make the effort to reach out to their family, both immediate or extended, as often as they could or should.  Some relatives in my family are like that and I just don't understand why.....


Family is personal;  family is safety and security;  family is love; family is understanding and support. 


Who wouldn't want that in their life?


Also remember even though this article is based upon my recent encounter with blood relatives, that "family" is not always defined as a relative.


Commit to reach out to your "family" today, and regularly if you don't already.......could be a phone call, or an invite on Facebook or to a Bar-B-Que if they are local.... a single commitment to act will enrich your life!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Integrity - N E V E R compromise yours!

Integrity has no need of rules.”
Albert Camus


Integrity takes a lifetime to build .........and a moment to lose.  


It is defined by Wikipedia as "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness and moral character."


Integrity is one of those "key" core personal values I hold deep in my own heart and fiercely strive to protect whenever it seems threatened.

We are all usually moving pretty fast both professionally and in our personal lives, and along our life path situations continuously pop up that test our moral character.  It could be that we are selling something, including ourselves,  or it could be that we are placed in a position of having to make a decision that will have an impact on the outcome of a situation that will affect us or others around us.


I believe integrity is something all people of strong character do not sacrifice for any one or any thing --for it defines who they are and what they stand for. 

 “There is no such thing as a minor lapse of integrity”
Tom Peters

So how does one gauge Integrity and Moral Character?  The salient points to ask yourself and to apply to others to determine personal levels of integrity are:


  • Consistent commitment to being trustworthy.


  • Consistent ability to accomplish what one commits to.


  • Consistently fair and honest with one's self and others.


  • Consistently takes responsibility for mistakes without trying to blame the situation on circumstances or on others.


  • Consistently assures decisions made are  "the right thing to do",  even though the outcome may not be enriching and may even be harmful.


Take a moment and ponder your family, friends, coworkers, they meet the standards of integrity based upon the above questions? Does the level of integrity when applied to people you know affect your level of trust in that person? 


Do others see those qualities in you?


“If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
J.K. Rowling,


It is very difficult and uncomfortable for someone who has integrity to associate regularly with someone who does not.  Nobody likes a dishonest person--you can't trust them and they are flaky.  They also tend to put us on guard because usually they possess narcissistic personalities and whatever they are telling us is usually designed to enhance themselves in one form or another.


“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


I've mentioned it before, but I belong to a group called Rotary International, who has 1.2 million members around the world.  Rotary does much good, like being very close to eradicating polio in our world, but the main reason I joined was that every Rotarian commits to live their life by the Four Way Test of the things we think, say and do.


  1. Is it the TRUTH?

  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?


  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

I absolutely love doing business with Rotarian's and becoming friends with them because of the above four reasons -- it's a no-brainer.


 Remember this -- integrity is something all  people of strong character never sacrifice for any one or any thing --for it defines who they are and what they stand for. 

 We are all going to be dealt circumstances in our life that will test our character. 

Don't ever give up your integrity in favor of an "easy out" or to achieve personal enrichment.... for the hefty price you will wind up paying is a loss within yourself that, once compromised, is very, very hard to regain.



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