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September 2006

What is important?

This story is dedicated to you.

A young man learns what's most important in life from the guy next door.

It had been sometime since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved
clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.

Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old news reel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

"Jack, did you hear me?" "Oh sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said.

"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.

"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.

"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said.

"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important...Mom, I'll be there for the funeral," Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his home town. Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return ho me, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time. Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment.

It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture....Jack stopped suddenly.

"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.

"The box is gone," he said.

"What box?" Mom asked.

"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he'd ever tell me was the thing I value most," Jack said. It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured so me one from the Belser family had taken it.

"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I better get so me sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning ho me from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. "Mr. Harold Belser" it read.

Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside. "Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life."

A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes! Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved: "Jack, Thanks for your time! - Harold Belser."

"The thing he valued most ...was ... my time ."

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. "Why?" Janet, his assistant asked.

"I need sometime to spend with my son," he said. "Oh, by the way, Janet...thanks for your time !"

LIFE IS NOT ME ASSURED BY THE NUMBER OF BREATHS WE TAKE BUT BY THE MOMENTS THAT TAKE OUR BREATH AWAY

Think about this. You may not realize it, but it's 100% true.

1. At least 2 people in this world love you so much that they would die for you.

2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.

3. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.

4. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.

5. You mean the world to some one.

6. If not for you, some one may not be living.

7. You are special and unique.

8. When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won't get it, but if you trust God to do what's best, and wait on His time , sooner or later, you will get it or so me thing better.

9. When you make the biggest mistake ever, some thing good can still  come from it.

10. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look; you most likely turned your back on the world.

11. Someone that you don't even know exists, loves you.

12. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.

13. Always tell so me one how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know and you'll both be happy.

14. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.


What are you feeding?

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.  He said, "My son, The battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all.

One is Evil.  It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment Inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is Good.   It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."


Every Winner has scars

Life is made up of a series of experiences. Each one will make you stronger, even though it may be hard for you to realize it at the time.

Life is your classroom in which you're being tested, tried, and passed. Always try to stay in the midst of life and activity. Don't isolate yourself from the action. Your character develops itself in the stream of life.

The setbacks and hardships you endure actually help you in your march forward to success. The world was built to develop your character.

Life expects you to make progress in reasonable time. That's why those elementary school chairs are so small


You can live your dreams

You have to make your own opportunities. Your future is not a matter of chance. It's a matter of the choices you make. It's not something you wait for. It's something you must actively pursue.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Opportunity can come disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.

Start today, right where you are. Distant fields will always appear greener. Yet, golden opportunities are all around you.


All Great Achievements take time

Every big accomplishment is a series of little accomplishments. To achieve maximum success you must accept that progress is made one step at a time.

A building is built one brick at a time. Football games are won one play at a time. A business grows bigger one customer at a time. You walk over the highest mountain one step at a time.

Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out. Nothing great is created suddenly,
any more than a bunch of grapes or an apple miraculously appears.

If you want to grow an apple, you must give it time. There must be time for it to blossom, bear fruit and then ripen.

That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures.


What are you procrastinating?

What are you procrastinating?

"The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started."

-- Dawson Trotman

Procrastination seriously drains our energy and our morale. What remains undone nags at us.

What are you avoiding? Make a list of items and then review each one. Does it really need to be done? After you've reviewed your list, prioritize it and start one task today.

Please do not procrastinate taking one minute to write down your answer to this question. Capture it on paper and this will help build awareness, commitment and discipline.

"How soon not now, becomes never."

-- Martin Luther

"Do you know what happens when you give a procrastinator a good idea? Nothing!"

-- Donald Gardner


Take control of yourself

While your character is formed by circumstances,  your own desires can do much to shape those circumstances. Thus, you have the power over the formation of your own character. You're the master of your fate and the captain of you soul.

Nature is at work around you. Your character and destiny are her handiwork. She gives you love and hate, jealousy and reverence. You have the power to choose which impulse you will follow.

You can at any time decide to alter the course of your life. No one can ever take that away from you. You're the master of your joys and your sorrows.

The greatest power you possess is the power to choose.


What is your goal?

I know the Fall semester started at UC Irvine today. I know many of you are starting classes today. If I ask most of the students who started today what their goal or objective is; they will say " I don't know, maybe graduate.."

There is no achievement without a goal. In whatever position you find yourself, determine your primary objective first. Until your thoughts are linked to a purpose there can be no accomplishment.

Only you can determine what you want out of life. You decide on your major objectives and goals.
A goal gives you a place to start.

If you don't know where you're going, how can you expect to get there? The world always makes room for the person whose words and actions show that they know where they're going.

The first essential ingredient of success is to know what you want.


Priorities

Follow the 80/20 rule

“Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets.”

-- Nido Qubein

The 80/20 rule says that on a list of 10 tasks, only 2 of those tasks will return 80% of the value of the entire list. Look at your ‘to do’ list for today. Which tasks are directly related to what you most want in life? Find the 2 high value items on your list and tackle them first. These tasks are the ones that really move us forward.

Many of us actively avoid the top 2 priorities because they are more challenging than the rest. If they are to lead us to worthy goals, they are undoubtedly asking us to move into new territory in thinking and acting, and this can be scary. But this is also REWARDING!

“Don’t kid yourself: it’s because you’re doing all those C’s (low priorities) and NOT because you haven’t any time, that you don’t get to do your A’s.”

-- Alan Lakein


Character Credibility

by Dr. John C. Maxwell

May 12, 2006

American sprinter, Justin Gatlin, races 100 meters through the evening heat in Doha, Qatar in 9.76 seconds. His time equals the world record, and makes him only the 4th man to accomplish track and field’s greatest triple triumphs in the 100 meter sprint: winning a World Championship, winning an Olympic Gold Medal, and holding the world record.

May 28, 2006

Baseball slugger Barry Bonds blasts a 445-foot home run in front of his home crowd in San Francisco. The mammoth hit marks the 715th home run in Bonds’ illustrious career and moves him past the iconic Babe Ruth into second place on baseball’s all-time home run list.

July 23, 2006

American cyclist, Floyd Landis, defies all odds to be crowned champion in the storied Tour de France. After falling more than 8 minutes off the lead in late in the race, Landis makes up an astonishing amount of ground to pull off a narrow victory in cycling’s event of the year.

How will these three sporting feats be remembered? For the astounding athletes who achieved them? For their historic significance? For the initial excitement surrounding them? For earning their place in the record books?

Sadly, each will be remembered for their utter lack of credibility.

Crumbling Credibility

After failing a drug test for the second time, Justin Gatlin awaits a ruling which may lead to a lifetime ban from track and field. His name will be erased from the record books.

As Barry Bonds faces federal investigations into his purported steroid abuse, he must also endure the howling boos of fans angered by his all-but-certain steroid usage. Every step of his climb toward first place on baseball’s home run list is tainted with allegations of cheating.

Floyd Landis will relinquish his cycling championship and has been booted from his racing team for his intake of banned substances during the Tour de France. His feel good story has degenerated into a disappointing reminder of the widespread doping that plagues the American sports scene.

If leadership lessons, church sermons, and classroom curriculums seem to have worn out the theme of character lately, they do so for good reason. Corporate scandals aren’t the only embarrassing evidence of character-deficiency in the USA. From prisoner abuse at Abu-Gharib to steroid abuse running rampant in sports, American society has come face to face with a shocking shortage of morals.

Cultivating Credibility

Leaders, like never before, are scrutinized for airtight character. In this present climate of skepticism, a leader’s credibility can vanish with a momentary moral slip. In an article on www.i-lead.com adapted from their book entitled Credibility, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner offer 5 fundamentals for building a credible foundation as a leader.

Character Counts

Reputation is based on external perceptions, and it can change due to an accusation or unfortunate circumstance. Conversely, character is built on internal decisions, and it remains rock solid amidst shifting situations.

Ultimately, a leader’s strength (or weakness) of character will prevail. In their article, Kouzes and Posner quote an anonymous poem, recited by Thomas Likona, to illustrate this point:

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words;
Be careful of your words, for your words become your deeds;
Be careful of your deeds, for your deeds become your habits;
Be careful of your habits; for your habits become you character;
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.

Individuals Act, Organizations Create Cultures

People are the engines that drive organizations. An organization’s productivity hinges upon the quality of work given by its workers. An organization’s impact on society depends upon the decisions of its leaders.

Individual actions shape organizational outcomes. Companies don’t give to the community without individuals choosing to be generous. Neither do businesses exploit shareholders and partners without the selfish actions of individuals. Corporate credibility relies on individual character.

However, organizations do develop cultures, and these are highly contagious. A culture of honesty and transparency positively pressures employees to act ethically, whereas a culture of corruption begets deceit. As Kouzes and Posner write, “The behavior that is modeled becomes the behavior that is followed.”

Our System Is Based on Trust

Before 9/11, we flew the friendly skies with little concern for our safety. In the aftermath of the incident, airport security tightened to levels never before seen. To regain our trust, the Federal Aviation Administration had to adjust the measures taken to ensure passengers entering flights had been screened for weapons or other dangerous materials.

Just as trust is the bedrock of the airline industry, so to business must be transacted with an underlying foundation of trust. Early in the 21st Century, in the wake of widespread corporate scandals, good faith has been replaced by strict regulations. Where an executive’s word once sealed a deal, laws and safeguards have been implemented to protect us from fraud.

Once trust has been broken, restoring credibility takes extra effort. Leaders must learn to earn trust and prize it dearly.

The Legacy You Leave Is the Life You Lead

Deeds supersede creeds. Credibility is not founded upon intentions but on actions. Leaders inspire when they clearly articulate a message in words, but they etch their message in the hearts of those they lead when they model it day by day.

Hypocrisy is the trap door of a leader’s credibility. Fakes and phonies have a short shelf life in leadership, because when their credibility plummets, they have no platform of respect from which to lead.

You Can Make a Difference

Despite leaders who exploit, leaders who misinform, and leaders who control, people still crave leadership. In particular, people long for leaders who demonstrate character, who are willing to serve those they lead, and who operate with their team’s best interests in mind. As such, leaders who build their credibility and are willing to shoulder responsibility will always attract a following.

Now, like never before, character and credibility are essential to leadership. The great part is that you can make a difference. You can change the leadership culture by diligently attending to y our character. You can lead effectively by earning and leveraging credibility.

To read more from leadership experts James Kouzes and Barry Posner, visit www.i-lead.com/articles/article023.html.