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1. Do Not Limit Yourself

My Grandmother was always encouraging me to set goals and work hard to achieve them. She would tell me not to be a follower and not to set limits on what I could achieve. She truly believed that there were no limits that you could achieve whatever you wanted.

She once told me the following story about a radish and a milk bottle, it was a story that I have never forgotten.

  • A Farmer's Lesson In Life:

A farmer won a first prize at the country fair for his huge radish that was the exact shape and size of a quart of milk bottle. Many were curious as to how the farmer was able to grow this radish that was the exact shape of a milk bottle.

Finally one gentleman went up to the farmer and asked the question. The farmer replied, "It was easy. I got the seed growing and then I put it into the milk bottle. It had nowhere else to go."

You can use this story as an analogy to life - our lives are shaped by the kind of surroundings we place ourselves in, the people that we allow to influence us, and the goals we give ourselves.

  • These Are Key Ingredients

If we only dream and take no action then we get no further. But if we plan, set a goal and take action then our life takes a different shape.

Now, the important parts of goal setting, though, go way beyond just writing down a goal statement and thinking that somehow your goal will be reached.

To write a goal is only a minor part of the way forward. The rest of the elements of how to reach that goal must also be stated clearly and with a definite time frame to each step.

This means that you must develop a detailed plan of action where each action step is detailed on what you must do, when and how and how much time it will take. If you do not make your plan detailed in this way and set specific target dates for completion, you will simply not be creating any kind of expectation in your mind or urgency that helps keep you moving.

but what about The Bumps Along The Path . . . .

  • The Bumps Along The Path

Sometimes, even when you are following your action plan, you will run into a snag. Snags are not uncommon and you should realize this before you even get started.

These snags, though, should be viewed only as little inconveniences; these inconveniences are meant for you to resolve and move forward again.

These little problems are those that most people cannot overcome because they simply quit using the excuse that their goal was never meant to be.

Show that you are different; show that you have the dedication and resolve to keep going and you will demonstrate to yourself and everyone around you that you are really dedicated to accomplishing that which you have set out in your goal statement.

  • Do Not Go It Alone

The fact that you know that there will always be minor roadblocks; it is also wise to solicit the guidance and help of a mentor.

This mentor is a person who has a positive attitude, is very skilled at always looking and finding solutions to issues and problems, and my also be someone who has experienced similar issues along their way to accomplishing their own goals.

I cannot stress finding the right mentor or mentors enough.

Goals and actions can help us accomplish more in a year than what some people will accomplish in a lifetime.

To prove this point read the biographies of successful people and you will see that goals and actions did in fact play a big role in their success.

In summary, don't put yourself in a bottle; in other words move out of what is comfortable and secure if you want to move forward.

2. The Power You Can Not Buy

Who do you know who has a lot of power? Maybe you know some famous business leaders who own and run large corporations worth millions of dollars or you may know some famous politicians, successful authors, or individual speculators in real estate who have made it big. Each of these types of people probably have buying power beyond what you ever imagined, or professional power to influence the policies or events of a country, or even the power to make or break careers as they see fit.

  • A Different Kind of Power

But, I want to talk about a different kind of power and one that I believe is worth a lot more than you may realize.

This is the kind of power that successful people know about from first hand experience, and the kind of power that cannot ever be taken from you.

It is the kind of power that can change lives for the better, or make an everlasting mark on the well being of many around them. So, what kind of power is this? Where can you get it? Is it available to only the chosen few?

  • A Short Story To Demonstrate

Let me tell you a short story to demonstrate what this power is and is not.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to conduct a two and one half day seminar. This was a motivational and life-changing seminar basically designed to assist people in changing their lives, breaking through their own personal barriers that were preventing them from achieving what they really wanted from life.

It was always fascinating to see and meet the seminar attendees. Some of them couldn't wait to get started, others were skeptical about what they would get for their money, and others attended reluctantly often being coerced or brow beaten to attend by spousal pressure.

This last group was always the most challenging to work with - you probably know the type. They sit there with arms crossed (a negative body language signal) and with what was a seemingly permanent scowl on their face, and forever looking around without seemingly focusing on what was being said or, minimally participating in any of the specific exercises meant to help them build positive mechanisms and behaviors to conquer old habits and thoughts.

And, at the end of this particular seminar and as was the usual practice of asking for feedback on a feedback form, and after all participants had left the seminar room, I started to look through the evaluations paying particular attention to find the form submitted by one of the attendees who had seemingly demonstrated less attentiveness than the rest of the participants, and one who constantly challenged me on almost every point I made. And, to my disappointment, in this case, there was no form. At the very least, I was expecting negative comments or something even more pointed. I left the seminar room that day thinking that I had failed this person - thinking that I hadn't done enough to get through, or my seminar had no positive impact at all.

As I went about my business and preparation for the next seminar over the next two weeks, one day I received a phone call - I had no caller ID so I never knew who was calling me or for what reason. When I answered the phone, a somewhat familiar voice resonated in my memory - I couldn't quite place the voice but I knew I had heard it recently. To my surprise, the caller identified himself by name after a few moments as the person who had not submitted their evaluation form. As soon as I heard the name, I was prepared for a verbal harangue or even a request for a total refund.

What I heard from him, though, was something I was unprepared for. He took his time to explain that he didn't want to talk with me at the end of the seminar because he was so unused to being affected the way he was - that is, in a very positive way. He went on to tell me how much the seminar hand meant to him, how much it had already helped him change his ways, and how much more comfortable he was with himself now that he knew how to overcome his own personal barriers to success both personally and professionally. Wow, was I surprised - and glad all at the same time.

  • The Point Is This

We all have personal power to affect the behaviors of others and this is the power you can't buy, beg or steal.

It is the power in your words and actions to influence others but this power can also be negative if you use it wrongly or improperly.

It is the power to give respect to a homeless person on the street by acknowledging that you see them by saying a simple hello; it is the power to influence some one to keep moving forward with a difficult task because you believe in them and tell them that; it is the power to comfort those who have lost a loved one because you know the value of love; and it is the power to speak out for those who can't speak out for themselves.

Power - you all have it - use it wisely because you never know what impact you have on other people even when you think otherwise.

3.The Making of a Friend

What does it take to make a friend? A normal question with not so normal answers in some cases.

One of these situations of not the usual answer happened to me luckily not that long ago.

As some would suspect from my background, I am not the most open person at times because of the kind of work I did many years ago - that work was in the justice system where one does not necessarily develop a natural affinity to make friendships with everyone.

  • Paint Everyone with the Same Brush?

But, one thing that should never be compromised is the ability to give everyone a fair hearing without prejudice or malice. In other words, do not paint everyone with the same brush because of past circumstances.

I had occasion to be a vendor at a local market and during a lull in customers, I took a walk around the rest of the craft show. I came across another vendor who was displaying similar products and stopped in to preview his work.

As soon as I walked in his area, he came over and started to chat. As he began to tell me about his work, I sensed that there was more to his casual discussion than first appeared.

Sure, he was friendly and quite knowledgeable about his craft but there was more to him than what first was presented.

  • Just As I Suspected

I began to ask him about what he did before he became an artisan and learned what I had suspected. He had been a drug addict and had served time in prison.

Now, years ago, I would have simply thanked him for his time and left. But, as time would have it, and as I was not given to make prejudicial judgments, I remained to listen to his story.

And, what had been a happenstance meeting turned out to be an open dialogue where we both shared our backgrounds.

He had made a complete reversal in his life. He had made a decision to become a better person, clean from drugs and turned his life around partly by focusing his energy on his craft.

And, to make his life even more challenging, he had suffered a severe industrial accident that left him with one eye, a crushed esophagus that meant he could not eat solid foods ever again.

We must have chatted about our differing backgrounds and experiences for well over an hour, and this conversation continued off and on for several weeks whenever I happened to be in town.

The long and short is that we are very good friends to this day appreciating each others background and being openly accepting of what made our lives different and unique.

  • Makings of a Friend

The making of a friend, for me, means being accepting of others, not to prejudge, to give each person an opportunity to express whom they are without jumping down their throat, or assuming that they are unworthy of my time.

Each of us is unique and we all are different. We are neither better nor worse; we are just different. Friendship will not happen unless you are willing to.

4. A Dream Now a Reality

It is hard to believe that 2009 celebrates 10 years that Inspirational Words of Wisdom has been online. And, what a ten years it has been. The website was originally started in order to promote our book, Wings of Wisdom. We started with a free site, and then registered wow4.com in March of 2009. Now, the website has grown further than we ever imagined it would. It reminds me of the quote by Napoleon Hill, "Man, alone, has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality; man, alone, can dream and make his dreams come true." The book was once only a dream, the website was once only a dream, and now, however, both are now a reality.

I have to point out that one of the benefits of running an inspirational website is that you get to meet some wonderful people all over the world. Over the last ten years, I have made some wonderful friendships as a result of our website. I've met people who have touched my life and have positively influenced my thinking; people who have shared their talents and shared their stories. And, like everyone, there are days when I need some inspiration. Since I spend considerable time working on the websites, it gives me the inspiration I need, whether it is reading a quote, or a poem, or a story.

We now work on this, and other websites full time. I can remember when I worked full time for a corporation I said to my colleague, "if only I could work full time on our websites". Back in those days, it was costing me over $100. a month for the websites. The websites generated no money. Plus, every week, I worked on them for at least 5 hours a week for which I got paid no money for doing so. The reason for sharing this with you is to encourage and give hope to those who have dreams but feel like they will never come true.

There are two things that are critical if you want your dreams to turn into a reality:

  1. Set your goals - write them down, develop action plans with deadlines. One of the secrets of obtaining your goal is that the goal should be your passion, you should love working on it. For me, working on the websites is not like work because I love it.

  2. Persevere - don't be discouraged and give up when you face a roadblock. People I previously work with used to say that when I got something in my mind, I was like a dog after a bone. Well, how true they were. Looking back at the websites, I was determined. Every time the websites dropped in ranking, I would spend hours trying to figure out what I did wrong. I have enrolled in many courses to learn more to improve the site. I never gave up. Everything takes time, and sometimes, the test of time can determine your success. No matter what profession or what business you choose, no one is an overnight success. It takes time, perseverance and hard work.

Our story is one which proves goals and perseverance can turn dreams into a reality.

Every goal is a challenge and, if it is not, your goal is not set high enough for it to be a stretch.

This setting of a goal is something like setting the bar in the high jump. If you only raise the bar a few inches, you will probably get over it but will it really push you to try even harder, or to train even more?

No. The higher you set the bar, the more you will need to muster energy and focus on succeeding and not failing. Sure, there is a possibility that you might fail but even with failure comes much needed learning experience.

5. Do Dreams Count

Dreams. No doubt we've all had them from time to time in our lives. Did you fulfill your dream? If not, why not? Did you start on your way to fulfilling a dream only to be derailed by letting other life's events get in the way? Did you make some initial first steps only to find roadblocks in your way that convinced you to give up? Or, if you fulfilled some aspects of your dream, did you find that you had limited success, and, therefore gave in to a negative view that you weren't meant to succeed?

Several years ago, I had a dream about inventing a board game that would change my life's fortunes. Along with a partner, who also had a similar dream, those dreams were turned into goals that were translated to action steps. After many long hours and many revisions, a board game was developed. Then came issues of financing. Not to be defeated by this obstacle, a plan was developed and carried out that saw shares being offered, all sold to a group of supporters, and a real live company created. Then, came marketing strategies, T.V. appearances, newspaper articles, trade show attendance, weekend promotional appearances, magazine advertising, and spot radio commercials.

It was an exciting time. The one time dream seemed to take off with sales starting to accumulate, a potential sale to a large and established game board company, and inroads to large chain stores. Then, it happened. Introduced to the board game market came one of the biggest hits never seen before. In short, their sales blew us out of the water, our distributor failed to pay us, and the business, once dreamed of, came to a screeching halt.

To make a long story short, the company was dissolved having dashed our dreams, and those of our shareholders. How devastating after all the hours of work, the hours of marketing, promotion, not to mention the loss of our own financial investment. It wasn't meant to be. The same old job, the same old daily grind loomed larger than ever. Is that the end of the story? Well, it was for one of the game developers; the negative emotions, "it never was meant to be" thoughts dominated any future dreams of a different life. This person returned to the daily grind of a nine to five job always cynical, always jealous of those who had succeeded.

But, did it mean being unsuccessful to me? I didn't succeed to the level I wanted or desired, but, to me, at the very least I lived my dream by turning it into a reality. If I had never turned my dream into goals and then to action, I would have always wondered - what if. Was it then a failure? No, it wasn't. Was it the flaming success I'd hoped for - no. But, there were valuable lessons to be learned. After all, how many successful business people, inventors, authors, artists, etc. had immediate success in their first attempt? Probably none. Failure is our greatest teacher as long as the experience is viewed as lessons, and those lessons are internalized to provide fruits for greater achievements later.

It may take a few more attempts, or many attempts but success is only achieved once dreams are put into action, where failure becomes the launching pad for smarter choices, or better action plans in future endeavors. Will success come on the next adventure, or the next one after that, or will it take many more? Who is to say? The important point here is that success only comes by turning dreams into reality and realizing that obstacles are only stepping-stones to final success.

For those who are wondering about my own eventual success, I'll tell you this. After many attempts, many failures, many lessons, and many false starts, success arrived but only through believing in what I've said earlier.

Learn valuable lessons from failure; turn dreams into action plans, and don't let a dream only be that - a dream!

6. Worry Not Bug

For months I notice the painted rock that sat on Karen's coffee table. The rock was painted and its face had a smile that just made you smile when you looked at it. I examined the rock and painted on the bottom was "why worry".

Curious I asked Karen where she got the rock.

  • A Gift With A Clear Message

She told me that during a very stressful time in her life, a friend that she worked with gave her the rock. Her friend told her that when she looked at this rock, she was to remember not to worry so much. Her friend called it her "worry not bug". There was a poem with the rock, she went and got it and as I read the poem I thought how true it was:

  • Why Worry by Author Unknown

- 40% will never happen, for anxiety is the result of a tired mind,

- 30% concerns old decisions which cannot be altered,

- 12% centers in criticism, mostly untrue, made by people who feel inferior,

- 10% is related to my health which worsens while I worry, and only

- 8% is "legitimate," showing that life does have real problems which may be met head-on when I have eliminated senseless worries.

Karen went on to explain that she used to worry about everything and everyone. She now uses the rock as a reminder not to worry about the things she cannot change.

She also went on to tell me that when she finds herself worrying, she asks herself what percentage this worry is? Most of the time she found what she was worrying about was the 40% - things that will never happen.

  • A Gift With A Clear Message

Some things in life appear to be worthy of worry. For example, if you have a child that is going off to school but has to walk alone through what appears to be an unsavory section of town. This is the kind of thought that can wrack a mother full of worry and fright until her child returns home safely. But, even in this situation, there are things that can be done to eliminate worry completely. I am not going to list every one of these possible things to do but only to say that this mother should focus instead on finding a solution to her worry and not focus on what she cannot control.

One of the things, for example that this particular mother could do would be to either walk her child to school, or to find a caring and concerned neighbor with children to take turns doing the escorting. The point is that worry cannot protect your child but taking action can.

  • One Big Arguement

Here is another example that hounds a lot of people around the world. And, this particular concern and worry is that of not having enough money to pay the bills or the mortgage or the rent. One thing is for sure, money issues lead to more arguments between couples than you might at first realize. As Amy E. Dean said in her book Peace of Mind, "Money is the number-one cause of arguments between couples. Couples who don't fight about anything else may fight about money; couples who have lots of it still argue about it."

  • A Solution Is Available

In this situation, arguments always lead to worry about what to do, or about whether the other person will ever be happy again. The whole aspect of worry though is to find a solution to the problem and not just focus on the issue. A resolution means that both parties sit down and develop a plan to either reduce discretionary spending or to devise a workable plan to increase personal revenue.

The worry aspect must be relegated to the background for without doing this, the spiral of emotions keeps going downward.

7. Success Comes To Those Who Persevere

Although you may not be totally familiar with the geography of part of Maritime Canada, particularly with the absence of a permanent link between Prince Edward Island and the Province of New Brunswick, the thought of linking these two provinces permanently was only a dream.

The transportation link between these two provinces was either by ship or, in more modern times, by ferry.

In order to link these two provinces permanently meant that many technological obstacles had to be overcome, but perseverance, the vision of a permanent link, paid off.

The permanent linking was accomplished by designing and then building a unique bridge. The project began in 1993, and the 12.9-kilometer (approx. 14 miles) Confederation Bridge officially opened on May 31, 1997.

Forming an integral part of the Trans Canada network, the Confederation Bridge is the longest bridge over ice-covered waters in the world. Many obstacles had to be overcome including the tremendous pressure from ice along its pylons during the winter and the spring thaw.

The key to the success of building this unique bridge over a period of four years was perseverance.

No matter the task, perseverance is the ability to keep going in spite of obstacles and challenges. Perseverance is the realization that challenges along the way are only minor detours on the march to success.

Perseverance is not just about building bridges. It is all about one's world and everything that comes and goes. Every one has a possession that no one can take away from you and that is your very own attitude to accomplish what is needed. For those who doubt their own ability, sometimes it is worthy to remind them that they all have experienced perseverance and all it means as a child.

Take for example the perseverance needed to be able to walk. To be able to walk as a child did not take place from the first attempt, or from the second or even the third. It took time after time of getting up on one's little feet only to fall back down. Did this stop you from getting up again? No, it did not.

There are even more examples of your ability to persevere all through your childhood and teen age years so what happens to adults that seems to dissuade them from keeping this same workable and necessary attitude and behavior in later years?

Sometimes. We are conditioned by our upbringing either through observing the attitudes of our parents or from our peers. Some of this conditioning occurs through the subconscious level and is assimilated without us even recognizing that we have adopted a new attitude and therefore a new behavior.

If we see and observe other individuals that are around us say that they cannot do something or learn something or that they tried and failed and simply gave up, we tend to think that this is a normal behavior.

The absolute worse thing to adopt is an attitude of defeatism that simply says that you are not capable of exacting perseverance to accomplish what is necessary and bow to the pessimistic attitudes of others who fail and quit.

Failure is the best teacher but only if you know that failure leads to success and success is accomplished through perseverance and dedication.

We know that you have had personal experience with perseverance as demonstrated when you where a young child so rekindle that knowledge and attitude and set sail for a new horizon.

"Our energy is in proportion to the resistance it meets. We attempt nothing great but from a sense of the difficulties we have to encounter, we persevere in nothing great but from a pride in overcoming them." ~ William Hazlitt

8. Wings For Goals A Goal In Itself

After I wrote my first book, Wings of Wisdom, I had many people ask me how I did it. I would reply, "I set a goal." Many of them looked at me strangely after I had said that. "What do you mean," they would say. I would then give them a step-by-step description of how I did it. I told this over and over, and one day I thought well not write a book about it.

Obviously there was a need. And looking at people who were discouraged but didn't seem to know what direction to go in gave me the inspiration. If I could teach one person, make a positive difference in their life then my life goal of helping others would be one step closer.

I had read many books on goal setting; I had implemented bits and pieces of each of these books in my life. Some of the books went on and on; they would make your eyes glaze over! When I was looking for information I wanted concise information on how to do it. I didn't want all the "ifs, ands, and buts"; I was looking for the how to do it and why you should do it this way - the best way to find information on the achievement of goals.

So, I decided to write my second book, Wings for Goals (which was a goal in it self). I wanted a book that was short and sweet; one that was to the point about goal setting. So, of course, I set my goal and started to write the book, Wings for Goals. My hopes were that this book would help people, there is a saying if you " love what you do" then you life will be happier.

I can honestly say that setting goals has changed my life. I have accomplished things in my life by setting goals that I previously only dreamed about. Goals do work. Many times I have set goals that seemed overwhelming but once I broke them down I could see that they were possible. And like the old saying, you can only move a mountain one rock at a time, that is how I looked at these goals and it worked - I was able to achieved what at one time seemed very overwhelming.

There is a saying, "you have a gold mine, when you have a goal mind". And, it is true. Of course, you can put your pen to paper, write down your goals, but the most important thing is to take action and complete each step of your goal. So many people say, "yes I have goals" but they do not take the time to complete the process.

Actions do speak louder than words, and by taking the actions to achieve your goals will result in success.

To quote Benjamin Franklin, "Words may show a man's wit, but actions his meaning."

And we all face challenges as we work towards our goal. But the difference is how badly you want to accomplish the goal. If you have a true passion and a determination then you will find a way to overcome the challenge.

And lastly, goals are not written in stone. If you don't make your deadline or your plans change, then change your goals. But, do not stop, revise the timeframes. I frequently use the quote, "Back up and reload." This is much better than just quitting or admitting defeat.

In my opinion one of the most important things about having goals is that they will help you focus on what you want in your life!

"When you discover your mission, you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it." ~ W. Clement Stone
"A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. A goal is what specifically you intend to make happen. Dreams and goals should be just out of your present reach but not out of sight. Dreams and goals are coming attractions in your life." ~ Joseph Campbellquis.

9. How Old Are You

If we did not know our age, some of us would appear to be very young, and some of us would seem very old.

Sometimes, people use age as a convenient excuse. "I'm too old to start something new", or, "I couldn't learn that at my age."

Other people, though, go on to achieve their greatest accomplishments in life in later years.

Take, for example, Colonel Harland Sanders who started franchising his chicken outlets when he was 65 years old. Up to the age of 90 years old he traveled 250,000 miles a year visiting KFC franchises. He not only overcame personal and business adversities, but more importantly, he didn't let age stand in his way!

Feelings lead to attitudes, attitudes become beliefs, and beliefs become the basis for actions no matter what your age.

It is not important how old you are;

it is how you feel, how you think,

and what you do that is important.

To quote Satchel Paige, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was."

And our one of our favorite words of wisdom on age is: "Don't count your years. Make your years count."

10. Achievement of Goals

For 26 years, I worked for a major corporation in Toronto, Ontario. While I had a wonderful career working with some great people, for the last five years of that career I found myself wanting a change. However, my financial circumstances did not allow me to leave my job.

But, I had my goals - to own our own small business, to live in the country, basically to change our lifestyle. But, of course, I faced challenges in achieving these goals. I can't tell you how many times I felt frustrated. I felt like I was going further away from my goals rather than moving towards them.

Our original goal to change our lifestyle was based on a two-year plan. Without going into the detail of the setbacks, that two-year plan turned into a reality taking five years. So how did we survive those three years of setbacks?

We never lost focus on our goals. Even though the time frame changed, we kept taking the actions shown in our plan.

  • In my case, on my desk in my office, a place that I did not want to be, I kept a quote that I would read every day - "Enjoy where you are at, while you are waiting to get to where you want to be!"- That quote reminded me to stay positive, not to become depressed about my situation. My goals, even with the setbacks, gave me hope and determination.
  • I would often visualize what it would be like if I was living my goals rather than working towards them. With every positive mental picture, it reinforced that my goals could be a reality.

Finally, five years later, our goal became a reality. We quit our jobs in Toronto, we bought a house in the country, and we moved to Clairville, NB. And, we started our small business. I no longer needed to keep looking at the saying, "Enjoy where you are at, while you are waiting to get to where you want to be!"

We were where we wanted to be - in the country, running our own small business. There was just one problem. Our small business was not generating enough income to support us. The first year in business, our small business cost us more money than it made. With our savings dwindling, we knew we had two choices:

  1. Go back to work for someone else, or,
  2. Make our small business profitable.

With 26 years of working for a large corporation, we did not want to go back to work for someone else. We were determined to make our small business profitable.

There was one day in particular, I will always remember, I was feeling a bit down, almost defeated. I was updating the website and came across a quote. As I read the quote, I realized I could do it. The quote, that pulled me out of my slump, goes like this:

"PERSISTENCE - "persistence prevails when all else fails."

We remember reflecting back on our previous two-year goal that ended up being a five-year goal. We were persistent then, we just need to be persistent now. So we took a step back, we reassessed what and how we were running our small business.

We changed, we worked hard and long, but we are happy to say that our small business is now generating an income for us. Our work is now displayed at many stores across Atlantic Canada, at the cruise ship booth located at the Port of Saint John.

My point in sharing our story with you is that no matter what your goals are, no matter what setbacks you face, never lose your focus on your goals. Achieving goals can become your reality. It may take some changes, and it will take some work, but if you stick with them, taking action, if you are persistent, you can achieve them. We are living proof. quis.

11. A Little Bit of Kindness

There are times in our life when we don't take action because we feel the act of kindness is too little, that it wouldn't make a difference. However, sometimes the smallest gesture can make a huge impact on someone's life. There are many different ways we can show kindness to others, and it doesn't have to be in a big way.

The simplest of things may make the difference. A smile, a door being held open, a handwritten note, a kind word, the list can go on and on.

I was recently reading some of Aesop's fables and came across the story of The Lion and The Mouse. While this story has been around for a long time, it still has wisdom in its words. Below is the story:

One day a Lion was asleep when a little Mouse began running up and down his back; this soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him, and opened his big jaws to swallow him.

"Please don't," cried the little Mouse: "forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows but what I may be able to do you a turn some of these days?"

The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him that he lifted up his paw and let him go.

Some time after the Lion was caught in a trap, he pulled with all his might, but the ropes were too strong. Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight, in which the Lion was, went up to him, and with his sharp little teeth gnawed away the ropes, setting the Lion free.

"You once laughed at me," said the mouse. You thought I was too little to do you a good turn. But see, you owe your life to a poor little mouse."

While you may think the story is far fetched, the point I found in reading the story is not the size of the action that is important, but the difference that a small action made. Small acts of kindness makes a difference in ways you may not realize!

Do you have opportunities to give small acts of kindness? Some people might think that they do not have a chance to show another person a small measure of kindness but these opportunities are everywhere you go through the day.

For example, if you ride on a bus, have you ever said good morning to the bus driver or do you just ignore him or her and proceed to your seat? A simple good morning or good afternoon tells the person that you acknowledge them and it is even an acknowledgement that can help to brighten a day.

If you drive a car anywhere, do you let someone enter into to traffic or do you just keep driving inching along and ignoring the other driver? Stop and wave the other driver into traffic ahead of you is a small gesture of kindness that may influence this driver to do the same for someone else later.

When you go to the supermarket or grocery store, do you hold the door open for a young woman pushing her baby in a stroller or do you just dart ahead through the door without stopping?

When you are at work, do you say good morning to your colleagues or do you just go about your business without acknowledging their presence?

Or, how about those people you meet on the street that ask for money or who are peddling various goods? Do you ignore them, or give them no acknowledgement that they are also human and have feelings?

12. Did We Fail

With excitement and enthusiasm we started our small business. No longer did we have the security of a weekly paycheck. We now were on our own to generate an income to provide us with the money to live. I was a little anxious about our ability to do this. But, Byron believed in our products, and more so, believed in our ability to succeed.

So, we worked and produced a number of products to sell. We invested heavily in a market that provides local crafts for cruise ships coming into our area. The first ships arrived, and we barely made enough money to pay our expenses. We now had our money invested in the booth that we had rented for the summer and fall months. We had a lot of money tied up in materials.

But, we did not have enough money to cover our monthly bills. We were discouraged, and the thoughts of failure ran through our heads.

As we discussed our options, I happened to read the wisdom said by Mary Pickford:

"If you have made mistakes. . .
there is always another chance for you. . .
you may have a fresh start any moment you choose,
for this thing we call 'Failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down."

This quote reinforced my determination and Byron's belief that we could succeed. We did fall down, but we were determined not to stay down! So, we stepped back and refocused. We came up with new products using existing materials. We redesigned our booth set up. We reviewed our pricing structure. And, we started making enough money to pay our bills.

My point in sharing our story is that if we had done nothing, if we allowed ourselves to "stay down", then we would have failed. But, we made the choice to learn from our mistakes, and we moved forward with more determination. Mary Pickford's thoughts of wisdom offers a much better perspective on failure - a chance for a fresh start! The most important point here is "choice" because you decide how you view your failure, you decide if you stay down.

Find encouragement in the stories of people who chose not to stay down:

  • The Beatles' first audition - the recording company rejected them.
  • Lucille Ball, the actress, was told to try another profession.
  • Authors who have received numerous rejection slips, but they kept going until they were published.

Remember, how you view "failure" is entirely up to you.

13. Much To My Surprise

A few months ago I saw a book on the Internet, "The One Minute Millionaire". The authors of this book were Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen. I knew of Mark Victor Hansen because of his involvement with the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I was curious about what type of book this would be with Mark Victor Hansen as one of the authors. So I ordered the book.

The weeks past and truly I had forgotten that I had ordered it. I arrived home from work and my husband said a package came for me. Upon opening the package I found the book, plus a CD. The book intrigued me.

I started reading it and found it was unlike any book I had previously read. The book is actually two books in one. The left hand pages are theory and the right hand pages are a story. I started reading the book together, but the story got my attention.

The story is one where you think nothing else could go wrong, but it does!! Every free minute I had I found myself wanting to read the book. When I wasn't reading the book I found myself thinking about the story and wondering how it would turn out.

Well this morning I finished reading the book, the story part of the book. I read a lot of books, and I can honestly say this book is one that inspired me to write about it.

The book is full of wisdom; not only teaching principles for becoming independent, but it truly teaches good values for life. It uses real life situations and analogies that really do make you think.

One analogy I especially like is:

"The wind might cause a kite to rise, but what keeps it up there is the fact that somebody on the ground has a steady hand. You have to hold steady to your values - your integrity. It's your anchor. You let go of that. . . well, it isn't long before your kite comes crashing down."

The title of the book, "The One Minute Millionaire" is intriguing but after reading the book the second title, "The Enlightened Way to Wealth" now makes sense to me. Enlightened being the key word!

To sum it up I would say: It's not all about money; it's about helping yourself, helping others and giving back.

I should point out I paid very little for the book, and truly wondered about the quality of what I would receive. I am sure you have heard the quote, "you only get what you pay for!"

Well, MUCH TO MY SURPRISE . . . what I got was worth far more than I paid for it. I highly recommend this book!

There are other books that can help provide insight into the whole process of developing a better life but the whole point is that there are resources to consult when you feel you need a little help.

These resources also do not have to be a book because they can also be people who know how to create a new and different life. Many of these people have walked the talk, which means they have lived through challenges and were able to overcome them.

These are the kinds of people who may not have written a book or that appear on TV in talk shows or have their life account written about in magazines. These are the people instead, whom you may know right now from someone at work to your next-door neighbor or even the local storeowner.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And better yet, I hope it sparks an idea or makes you look at how you live your life.

"A small change can make a big difference."

14. The Best Is Not Always

There was a time when I took over an organization that was in need of some major changes in order to not only utilize its resources to the maximum but in order to survive.

This was a time when downsizing was heavily on the minds of corporate executives and every service was on the chopping block.

Now, as a manager, I had a fairly open hand to do what was needed to get the job done. On the other hand, I knew full well that unilateral action was certainly not going to win a popularity contest, nor would it enable staff to want to work with me. The art of change management was strongly on my mind.

My leadership style was one that I needed to involve staff members in a much stronger role as their own change agents where they not only clearly understood the issues but also took it upon themselves to recommend strategies for change that would improve service yet maintain the same staffing model. For a lot of you, I know that you have probably worked through similar issues at some point in your career.

The first change I made, was to involve all 26 staff members in a once a week meeting where everything was put on the table even those issues and concerns that I was told to keep to myself by upper management. My thinking, however, differed significantly than my senior managers because I strongly believed that every staff member should be treated as a responsible person and that they should be told everything that might affect their careers in both the short and long term - the nothing held back rule.

After many months of intense discussions and meetings, it came time to move into a major change for one area. That area was a long running teaching seminar that was run over the course of five days and was offered to other employees across the large organization. This was an intense course, a great course, but one where five days could no longer be supported given tight times and where other duties and responsibilities took precedent. The change was basically twofold - either reduce this seminar to a much shorter period of time without loosing its effectiveness, or to scrap it all together.

On the one hand, it would have been quite easy for me to simply and unilaterally eliminate sections of this training seminar to reduce its time line by a couple of days. On the other hand, I was fortunate enough to have a very experienced trainer with me who had been conducting this seminar for many years. So, my decision was to ask this trainer to set about and review all seminar content, and to come up with a much shorter version that was just as effective as before. What I was doing was giving credence to competency over swift and decisive action. And, in the final analysis, this was the best strategy to take.

Not only was the seminar reduced by two days, so it only ran for three instead of five days, but it was much more manageable for the trainer, less tiring, and just as effective as our later feedback showed.

The point to this story is: working in teams will always beat individual performers as would be the case if it was a decision made by one person; and. there is no need to compete against anyone's competencies, it was the situation that demanded change not the trainer.

And, through life, we will always run into problems that may at first glance appear easy to resolve but this resolution may not be the best one. It is wiser to ask for assistance by way of others input if you are facing a difficult choice and in this way, you have the option to consider a solution that may be better, and that may not have occurred to you if you had acted alone.

15. Laziness Is Not Patience

There are those who hold to an interesting definition of patience. To them, patience means something that says you should wait until the time is just right before you do something. Take this example; it is about a man who has a family with a wife and two very small children. He has known for some time that he is going to lose his job, a job that has been hanging by a thread for over the last year.

This is a job that has no medical benefits or pension; it is only a contract position. It has absolutely no security. But, it is a job that pays well unlike some other jobs in the same kind of area of expertise. And, he gets to work at home.

When approached about his concerns for his family's security, his standard reply is that he isn't worried about their security. He must not be because he has yet to apply for one job, or, for that matter, hasn't even looked in a newspaper help wanted section, or on the Internet that lists jobs available in his area. When pushed a little harder about what he is going to do his response is only that he is going to have to have patience and ride the job to the bitter end.

What I find so unusual is that he knows his job is coming to an end; he known this for some time but believes that all will be well - that patience must be exercised to see whether he will get another offer from another contractor in the same area. He isn't very busy any longer either with his current contract. In reality, he only spends no more than two hours day actually performing any functions. So, what does he do for the rest of the time?

Instead of using his time to look for work, or rewrite his resume, he plays online computer games - that all.

Is this patience to see what will happen to his job with the hope that he will be offered another contract or is this laziness?

Sad. There seems to be no sense of urgency; no sense that he is putting his family in jeopardy not to mention the real possibility that he could lose his house. He has no money saved and if he is out of work longer than one month, the mortgage and the rest of his obligations will not be met.

As the old saying goes, Patience is a virtue, but laziness is not associated with patience in any form whatsoever.

There is one thing about patience that should be clarified. Patience is a great quality when it means that you can wait for the right moment to speak, or when you are confronting a rebellious child, or when you are thrust into a situation that means that cool heads will win the day where overreaction would cause grief, upset, or a major mistake. But, laziness means nothing of the aforementioned - it is the lack of responsibility, will or determination to act when even simple action could make a huge difference.

16. What Is Your Destiny

In the past few years, I have been involved in many aspects of the both the criminal and social justice systems. And, this involvement has been both in correctional services, as an investigator for social justice issues, and as a leader and counselor in an employee assistance program. In each of these experiences,

I have found many people who are on the edge of a precipice and one which could easily see them turn to either a life filled with more severe criminal activity, or a life that sees them constantly looking for someone else to blame for their past and current circumstances, and those who are so stressed from work and family issues that they are already barely able to make it through a day.

You might wonder if there is a common element running through these people, or a particular attitude, or characteristic that each has in common?

If it had not been for all of these experiences, I may have answered too quickly by saying that there is no commonality among all of these people. But, that is not my answer today.

I am not going to suggest by any means that everyone can be changed or influenced to be a model citizen, or able to alter their behavior totally, or to handle all stress. What I will say, however, is that if a person truly wants to change, to be something more than they are now, or who desires to change their life to be able to manage their environment better, then there is every opportunity to do so with the right guidance, assistance, and encouragement.

The real secret here is this: if you really want to change your life, you can - it is a choice and a choice you must make for yourself, by yourself, and despite what others may want.

"Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny."
~ Charles Reade

I met a man who years ago had struggled within the confines of a large organization. He worked hard in his specialty area and, in my view, had a very promising career ahead of him. We became good friends and often made time in busy schedules to have lunch together.

On one such lunch meeting, we sat and talked about what we were dealing with in terms of some of our projects and issues we needed to address. As we delved further into one of his concerns, he stopped abruptly in mid sentence. He then said he needed to speak to me confidentially about something. I agreed.

He then proceeded to tell me that he was having a lot of difficulty with what was being asked of him in dealing with a union staff issue. His instructions were clear from his superior. He was to lie to them - plain and simple. He was to mislead the union representatives - it was his responsibility, in other words, to lead them down the garden path so they would not know what was really happening.

It wasn't that he hadn't communicated with union members before. But, in his view, it was one thing to be vague and quite another to lie. It was not his nature to be dishonest with anyone.

He had a choice to make and it clearly was a choice that would shape his destiny especially if his choice was contrary to his own beliefs and standards. It was not a cut and dried choice - if he chose to lie, he would be setting sail on a new destiny; if he didn't lie, he would be choosing basically to set a new destiny and that was one certainly not within his current organization.

We all make choices - we can all teeter from time to time on the precipice of life's choices.

You can decide to change your values, or you can decide to change your destiny, or you can decide to set a new sail, or to keep your own ship sea worthy. You are probably wondering what his decision was?

His choice was very decisive - he was in charge of his own destiny not someone else. He decided to remain loyal to his values - he left the organization refusing to lie. His destiny was clear.

17. Waiting for No Risk

I could have easily waited it out putting in a few more years, going through the motions with just enough effort to keep me employed. But, if I did this, I knew that I would be unhappy every day I went to work and wasting away knowing that each day was only a fa├žade to what I really wanted.

  • The Concern Was This

If I leave now, what would I do, and how would I survive financially?

Both of these questions are not ones to be answered easily or quickly.

Maybe it was better just to wait to see how long I could survive in my job before I couldn't take it any longer.

Maybe there would be something in the newspaper or want ads that would be more appealing and give me a reason to leave so I would enjoy my last few years before official retirement.

Many People Think These Thoughts

In one of my past jobs of counselling people, I was told over and over and over again about the desire for a different job, a job that would be satisfying and where one would be appreciated instead of seen as a mere job number of job function.

These people all were waiting for something else, something that would force them out of their current position because it was so much better. But, even more important, it was something that was secure without risk and would give them everything they wanted without having to worry about one thing.

The solution for these people, and for myself in fact, was not and is not a move without risk.

  • Life Is Full of Risks

Life is full of risk and the wisdom of these words must be repeated over and over again.

We all take risks some bigger than others.

It really comes down to how . . .

It Really Comes Down To . . .

It really comes down to how badly you want to change something whether that be finding a new career totally outside and away from what you do currently to changing a habit that has caused you problems in the past and present.

  • Our Decision

Each one of us must decide whether a change is something that we cannot live without or we decide that we are going to keep doing what we have always done.

The old saying, "If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll always get what you got." Bear in mind, though, that if you keep doing what you already are doing you are also making a decision and are also taking a risk.

Why?

You are risking staying in the same old rut without any hope of realizing a new dream. Nothing changes if you never take action, if you never make that decision.

You will never find a new career or life that simply finds you and takes you away without some risk.

  • Winning The Lotto

It is similar to waiting at home for the door bell to ring and hoping that it is a special letter telling you that you just won several million dollars - it won't happen unless you had taken action by buying a lottery ticket.

  • Wisdom of A Saying

The wisdom of the old adage comes to mind, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

18. An Important Question

We are always being asked questions. But what about the questions that change our lives.

I was once asked such a question as a young man. The question was asked one eventful day during a shift I worked as a student nurse in a geriatric ward.

  • My Responsibilities

You see, as part of my responsibilities, I had a ward of several elderly men who where all unique in their own way, and some of these gentleman took a lot more care than others, and some were a lot grumpier than others.

  • Others Would Avoid

A lot of nurses, quite frankly, did not enjoy working with these men and would try to avoid spending any more time there then they had to.

On the contrary, I took the opposite tack attending to the needs of these men.

Instead of just doing what I had to do to make them comfortable, giving them necessary treatments, blood pressure and temperature readings, baths, and supplying medication as ordered, I would finish all the required responsibilities and then stay in the ward. I spent a lot of time talking, joking, just good old give them attention beyond what they needed time.

After all, these men could not walk or get around, they had few visitors, and were generally left to spend their days just watching TV, sleeping, or complaining to anyone who stepped foot into the ward. So, I became the main target of their pent up mental energy and honestly, I had a lot of fun.

But, beyond establishing a great rapport with these men, there was one gentleman I spent a lot of time talking with. He wasn't at first appearance much different than the rest but he had a wicked sense of humor and a grand spirit about him.

  • The Question That Changed My Life

One day, after all necessary nursing tasks were done and I stayed with them, he called me over to his bedside. At first thinking he was about to unleash a tirade of quips and fancies, I was ready. Instead, he beckoned me even close so he could obviously speak very quietly to me out of earshot of the other man.

In a soft voice just above a whisper, he asked, . . .

Life Changing Question

In a soft voice just above a whisper, he asked,

"What do you want to be remembered for after you die?"

I was somewhat taken back thinking immediately that he was in physical distress and required emergency medical attention. I quickly asked, "What's wrong - what are you feeling - are you having a problem breathing?"

"No, no, no, nothing like that", he whispered.

"I want you to think about just what I said. What do you want to be remembered for after you die?

I Didn't Understand

"I don't understand what you are asking me". I said confused.

"It really is a simple question but an important question. How do you want people to think of you when you die? Do you want to be known for your humor, for your caring, for helping people no matter who they are, or do you want to be remembered as a person of status, wealth, spending big money on a house, fancy car, long vacations or possessing the latest doodads?"

I know I probably sounded like a babbling idiot to him at this time because I couldn't give him a well thought out answer at all. I still remember feeling uncomfortable because I had no clear answer to give.

  • A Question Worth Thinking About

Over the years, we may all face this important question. It may be a question that comes to you because of a tragic circumstance, or it may come to you after you have observed or witnessed other people stepping up to many needed issues and taking on great odds to change societal obligations.

It may be a question you ask in later years when you finally realize that you won't live forever. Or, it may also be a question that you may never want to ask yourself because you are too caught up in enjoying the materialistic side of life.

Think About The Answer...

Is it time for you to ask, "What do you want to be remembered for after you die?"

19. The View From A Hospital Window

It isn't everyday that I go to the hospital but there are times when I want to and not have to.

One of these days came recently when we received a call from our son who proudly announced that a new baby girl had been born into the world.

It wasn't that we weren't expecting the call either because we were baby-sitting our first grandson while his parents where otherwise engaged in a miracle of life.

We soon had our little grandson bundled up for our winter drive to the city hospital.

After we arrived at the hospital, we waited in the lobby for our son to meet us so he could take his little son to see his new sister. He wanted a little time to be alone with his family and we certainly understood.

In a short time, we received a call on our cell asking us to come up to their room. Of course, with a bounce in our step off we went and arrived to meet our new granddaughter.

How cute she was, all wrapped in her little blanket being cuddled and asleep in her mother's arms.

  • The Miracle of Birth

As the moment of excitement died down and Catherine was holding our granddaughter, I had time to relax. I turned to look out the hospital window at the blazing sun and pretty blue sky marvelling at such a glorious day. It is obviously a pleasure to be close to new birth and in a hospital for pleasant reasons.

As I stared out the window, for some reason another not so happy window gazing was brought forward in my mind. I recalled one other time I was staring out the window of a hospital room, a room where my mother laid quietly asleep, or more like unconscious from drugs, waiting for her last moments on earth.

Each of us will face this window when we are waiting for our last breath to be taken as we pass on. But, rather than be sad, wouldn't it be a lot better to face our own death knowing that our life had been lived to the fullest and without regret?

Even though we may not want to face death, it is inevitable just as it is for the setting sun each evening.

  • No Regrets

I believe we should all live life to the fullest without regret. So, what regrets could you have in your life?

There are regrets that you never started or finished that pet project that would have made a difference in other people's lives; there is that business that you never took the risk to get it going even though you thought about it throughout your working life; there are those regrets that you never spent enough time with your children always too busy to give them more than just a few hours of attention a week or only during a one-week family vacation a year; there are those regrets that you did complete your studies that could have given you the career you always wanted; and there are those regrets that you never told your closest friends how much you valued them.

  • Stand In The Window

We all need to stand at a window from time to time to reflect on our lives and what we are doing or not doing; what we could do but are too afraid to do or too caught up in our own comfort zone to push just a little harder to move through these limitations.

The window to life is there for you to gaze through to imagine how you would want your life to end up as you might stand at years later.

As you gaze out that window of life do not allow yourself to make the mistake of not doing all of those things you dreamed about, or to help those who desperately needed your help but you were too wrapped up in your own needs and wants.

Vividly paint the picture you want to see looking back at you through that window and do it now.

20. The Last Roses

There are many issues and challenges we all face throughout a lifetime but some are bigger and more emotional than others. Some of these emotional times come when we take the final step and leave home to go out on our own to make our way in our own way. Some others include marriage or the birth of a first child. All of these motions springboard us into a new realm of life.

  • A Difficult Time

Then, there are other even more challenging emotions that one has to face sooner or later in life and one of these times occurs at the death of a parent either mother or father. Such was the case for me several years ago now.

My mother was not well for years before her death. She had various ailments including a heart attack, gallbladder problems and other illnesses from time to time. The final medical problem was cancer.

She was unable, for the last month, to leave the hospital. My dad would sit by her side all through the day waiting for her to awake -just sitting knowing that his wife of over forty years was slowly fading from him and there was nothing he could do.

There would be no more of one of their favorite activities and that was going for car rides exploring the countryside, stopping to investigate old farmhouses left in ruins or old schoolhouses and corner stores.

  • An Amazing Day

Then, a very unusual event occurred. My dad came to visit mom with a bunch of roses in his hand as he walked into her hospital room. She was not awake when he walked in but she soon opened her eyes. She seemed to be much brighter, her eyes were clearly focused and she immediately propped herself up on the bed pillows looking at those roses.

She looked from those roses to my dad and said, "Let's go for a ride in the country, sweetheart."

My dad was dumfounded. He didn't know what to do because it was so out of character with a very ill person. My mother said it again; she wanted to go out for a ride in the countryside.

For whatever reason, she had bounced back to something like her old self. My dad didn't know what to say and finally said he would have to go and ask the doctor if it was OK.

In a few minutes, he returned saying that therewas absolutely no reason not to go for a ride. So, armed with her roses, my dad and mother left the hospital, got into their car, and drove away.

It was only a few short hours later that they returned. My mom couldn't walk very well then and was helped back into bed to immediately go to sleep.

There would be no more car rides. The end was very near. I left shortly after that and it was with the next two days that she passed away.

  • Was It A Miracle?

No one will ever know what caused this miraculous change.

Was it because of a few simple roses as the final act of love, was it a passionate desire to live on earth and do what was done for many years as a pleasure?

Or, maybe it was a heavenly way for my dad to say fond farewell while engaged in an activity that they both loved.

The emotion that lies at the surface at the loss of a parent is one that will be forever born as life goes on. There is no forgetting, there is no time that sees it fade, and there is no replacement ever found. Each one of us must deal with death at some point; it is never something that anyone is fully prepared for even if warning signs are obvious.

  • To Summarize

No one will ever know what caused this miraculous change.

Life must be lived to the fullest each day; laughter must be a component of each day, and ensure that those you love know it before you cannot tell them ever again.

21. Only A Few Words

What does it take to help a person move to better performance, or to change a behavior? In a lot of cases it doesn't take as much as you may at first think.

  • Love To Learn

There are a number of people who love to learn, who would love to find out how to do something but have never had the guidance and, therefore, have little or no confidence to try and do it on their own.

I had the opportunity over the years to help and to encourage a wide number of people including a lot of my own colleagues as well as those who were caught in the justice system on the wrong side of the fence.

Recently, though, I have been able to help a young man become confident in a different way.

One of my hobbies, over the years, is to repair and renovate a number of houses. Some of these have been those belonging to friend and family, and some have been my own since I have moved quite frequently.

With these skills, I have had a wonderful time always enjoying working with my hands and able to see and use the results of my efforts.

  • Building Confidence

The young man, I referred to, was recently married and decided to buy an older home as their first investment. There wasn't much really wrong with the house that elbow grease and tender loving care could not repair.

In fact, from my previous experiences renovating, this was a cakewalk - in other words, a very easy project to take on.

However, to this young man, it appeared to be a huge mountain that he had been asked to climb without the aid of hiking or climbing boots.

The truth is that he had never been taught to do much of anything around the house because his father had never done more than use the end of a flat screwdriver. So, he was unable to even decide how to start the most basic of renovations including repainting a wall.

So, I was asked to help him. At first, I didn't really know if he new anything but not wanting to demean him or insult him, I chose to tackle a project and simply asked him to assist me. It didn't take long to find out what he didn't know.

So, I proceeded to describe what I was going to do, why I would do it, and the tools and process that I would need before I began. He was a fast learner, eager to understand and learn whatever he could.

I immediately noticed a hesitation to do anything I gave him to do even though I started off by doing it myself so he could visually see what the technique or how the tool was used properly.

As he started to engage in the project at hand, I calmly mentioned how to correct what he was doing wrong and kept it low keyed and friendly. It was truly amazing to see him respond - less hesitation and with greater confidence.

Over the next few months, we tackled project after project with more and more use of tools, with more and more encouragement, and with giving him the lead and me acting as his helper.

  • Encouraging Can Do More

All it takes is a few words of encouragement - no criticism, only helpful redirection or suggestions. It never takes much if you really care about people, their feelings and armed with the knowledge that we all started somewhere - we were never born masters of anything.

22. Balance of Life

  • Friends For Many Years

Mary and Susan were friends for years. They grew up together and attended the same schools. They were now both in their 40's, and both had great careers. They both had a similar upbringing - same education, same family values, similar support and financial position. But there was one main difference. Mary never seemed to have enough time. She watched her life long friend Susan. She had similar responsibilities and interests. Susan had a career, she had three children, she had her hobbies, one of which included golf. Over lunch, Susan was telling Mary about the golf game that she played last weekend.

  • Time To Play Golf

"Susan, where do you find the time to play golf?" asked Mary. "I never seem to have the time, now with the children older and doing there own thing I thought I would have time to play golf like we did when we were in college."

Susan looked at Mary and laughed, "Mary, we both have the same hours in a day. You do have the time to play golf!"

With a sigh Mary replied, "That's easy for you to say. I never seem to have time. My work takes so much of my time. I am in the office at 7:30, I leave at 6:30 in the evening. By the time I get home and have dinner, it is 8:00! And, then I usually have a briefcase full of work. The weekends are full of more work. Just to keep up, I have to put in the hours. You know what it is like!"

  • If You Got Sick

"Of course, I know what it is like," Mary said.

"But what would happen tomorrow if you got sick? Who would do the work?"

"Sick. Who has time to get sick! exclaimed Mary.

"But if I did get sick, someone else would do the work, I suppose."

"You know something, Mary, I used to be like you. I worked night and day and of course on weekends. When I got home I was exhausted but I would push myself and read my children a bedtime story. By the time I went to bed, I would be more than exhausted. The boss I had was very demanding. She was there early in the morning, late at night, and she always worked weekends. I felt I had to do the same - I needed the job to help support my family - just as you did. But then I had a change of bosses. The man I worked for was older and he frequently shared his wisdom, I might add! Of course, I continued to work the hours I had been working. One day he came to my desk and passed me a card that had a quote on it which said, 'What I do today is important, because I will never have today again' - then he left.

  • What Is Important

"I sat there stunned. I suddenly thought of what was important to me. While my work was important, I realized my children were more important. I also realized that time for me was important. It was 4:30, the official closing time of the office. I straightened my desk, felt a twinge of guilt about leaving, but I forced myself to leave. I was home by 5:00. My children and husband were surprised. I had a wonderful evening. It was not a chore to read that bedtime story that evening."

Mary was looking at her friend thoughtfully and then questioned Susan about the work she had left on her desk.

  • Accomplishing More

Susan replied, "I never thought this possible, but I actually accomplished more the next day then I had in weeks.

"As I was leaving the next day I stopped at my new boss's office and thanked him for the quote. He told me a short story about advice his dad had given him many years ago when he was working night and day. He referred to it as 'Balance of Life'. His dad told him to keep balance in his work, in his family life and in time for himself. He explained to me, while all aspects of our life are important, without a balance, you become addicted and like all addictions you lose -

no balance with your family - you lose them

no balance with your work - you lose your perspective and you actually lose focus on the important aspects of your job.

no balance with yourself - you forget who you are and when you retire you have nothing!

Or worse than that, if you lose your job through a company sale or downsizing you lose your identity.

He went on to tell me that who we are is NOT what we do to make a living. Who we are is a balance of our family, our work, ourselves! It truly was the best advice I ever received."

  • Find Focus

Mary took a drink of her tea and tearfully looked at her friend, "But I would never get my work done if I left at 4:30!"

Susan looked thoughtfully at her, "When you go to work on Monday, look at what you have on your desk. Make a list of everything you have to get done and beside that list write the impact of not doing it. Then focus only on the top three items that have the most impact.

Do that everyday for a week. At first, you will find it difficult to leave. But, after awhile, you will find that you will have more energy, and you will be more focused in your work because you have BALANCE!

There are times when we have to lose balance - a special project at work, or a family matter at home - but consciously focusing on balance keeps everything in check."

Mary smiled at her friend, "Thanks for talking with me. We have been friends for so long. Thank heavens I have balance with your friendship! You have convinced me. I will leave the work in my briefcase this weekend. On Monday, I will make the list first thing. Perhaps next weekend, I will have the time to go golfing with you!"

23. A Wake-Up Call

During the month of September, a dear friend of mine lost her husband suddenly in an accident. The tragedy was a shock to everyone.

This accident was sudden and certainly unexpected. It drove home the realization that you just don't know when a loved one is no longer going to be with you. We sometimes take our love ones for granted, and we expect that they will be with us forever. However, as we all know, life does not work that way and sometimes we get a wake up call that shocks us and makes us stand back and realize how short life is.

  • Put On Another's Shoes

In consoling her, I tried to imagine if I was in her shoes how would I feel. It was impossible to imagine what she was going through. What words do I say to help her?

Sometimes words just can not express our feelings. Sometimes our actions are much more meaningful than words. A hug can sometimes express more than our words will ever express. Sometimes, just being there to listen is more meaningful and helpful to people.

  • A Second Wake Up Call

As I was leaving the funeral parlor, I ran into a Marilyn. (Marilyn has been a true friend to me over the years. She is one of those friends who is with you in the good times and is always by your side in the bad times. She has a sense of humor that makes everyone laugh and she makes everyone feel at ease.) We chit chatted for a few moments, and then she asked me how my job was. So I started talking and talking and talking (am sure she wished she had never asked, ha) I was having a stressful week with my job and I was telling her all the issues and how I was feeling. She listened to me as I was raving about my frustrations, then without saying a word, she took her hands and placed them on my face, and said to me,

"But at least you had a day."

Like A Slap In The Face

The touch of her hands on my cheeks, the calmness in her voice, and the words she spoke,

"BUT AT LEAST YOU HAD A DAY", hit me like a ton of bricks. All the frustrations, all the stress that was building up inside of me - came to a complete stop.

Since that day, when I start feeling stressed, I remind myself of Marilyn's words - but at least I had a day!

Things could be a lot worse, the stress of the situation always could be worse, but I am alive and I have a lot to be thankful for - so I shall not waste my days with stress and frustrations - Life is too short!

24. Find The Potential

Although I am dating myself, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed attending the old one-room schools of the past.

  • There Was Something Magical About

Being in one-room where there were kids across grades one through eight. It always seemed that there was something to keep your attention even if I had already finished my own work. It was also a time to observe other kids as the teacher would direct their attention to a certain grade other than my own.

I was fairly new to this one particular school since my parents only moved to the area one month before the end of the school year. By the way, this wasn't unusual for my parents to uproot the family even though it could be near the beginning, middle or end of the school year - that's just the way it was in our family.

  • Two Grades Behind Me

There was a boy who, as it turned out, was an orphan and was living and working for a small farming family. In fact, the entire school was filled with farm kids because that was where this school was located - in a farming community several miles from the city. He didn't appear at first glance to ever be fully engaged in the school learning process; he would sit quietly, never seem to get any attention from the teacher, and would spend a lot of time staring out the window just behind him. The teacher, as I found out by asking other kids, had been at this particular school for many years.

Over the next few weeks, I got to know this boy while playing outside in the schoolyard playing baseball, or soccer. He was very athletic and very good at anything we played. He didn't appear to have any problem whatsoever learning any new games or following along in any kind of team. I started to wonder why he did not seem to do well in school and why the teacher ignored him. He had only been at the school for a year, he told me, and had to do a lot of chores on the small farm.

  • One Rainy Day

I distinctly remember one rainy day that we couldn't go outside to play at recess. We were down in the school basement that was large enough to hold on the kids. I saw him sitting by himself away from the rest of the kids that were playing one sort of game or another. I wandered over to him and sat down beside him. I started to ask a few more questions about his background, where he was from and all those things that everyone always asks to get to know someone better.

He told me that he had been in several foster homes since he was a little boy and that most of his time in the last few years had always been on farms. He said he was made to work before he went to school and as soon as he got home until it was time for bed. He never was given a chance to go out and play nor was he allowed to have any friends over although he told me he really didn't have any friends anyway. As soon as he told me about having no friends, I was even more curious. He seemed like a real nice kid - he wasn't rude, or nasty, or a bully although with all the heavy farm work he did he certainly had the strength for it.

  • Why No Friends?

I asked him why he didn't have any friends here at school? There was silence - a very strained and long silence. He didn't say anything. He just sat there and looked at the floor. I asked him again.

He looked up at me and said quietly that the reason he had no friends was that everyone knew he was an orphan and did not want anything to do with him.

I Was Speechless

I had never before been acquainted with prejudice of any kind. I guess I found that really strange because I had moved around a lot to a variety of small communities, small towns and big cities and never had a problem making friends even though I was a complete stranger to the rest of the kids.

So, here was one characteristic of a human being where through no fault of his own carried a label that prevented him from even having friends as a child. His potential was also being ignored by the teacher who also knew he was an orphan. It wasn't that he couldn't learn, or didn't want to - it was because he wasn't encouraged or in some cases, allowed to.

I never knew what happened to him after the school year ended. By the start of the next fall, he was gone and probably to another farm to be their work hand again. I do hope that he finally made it out of that vicious circle where he could be accepted as having value and not shunned because he didn't fit into the usual definition of others.

  • Discover The Potential

We may all meet people through the years that we tend to apply labels to without really taking the time to get to know them, to discover their real potential because our vision is clouded by how we always put people into pigeon holes that we are used to or comfortable with.

It is our human duty not to prejudge people because they do not appear to fit into our own circle; there is more value to discover other's worth than to remain mired in our own small mindedness.

25. The Biggest Package

It is always interesting and revealing to observe human behavior and some behavior seems to be true to form more often than not. In the past years, we have always held a Christmas gift exchange at out house with at least ten of our family. Each year, we all buy gifts wrapped in Christmas paper. When everyone is sitting around a circle, all the gifts are piled in the middle of the floor.

People choose a number from a bowl that tells him or her when they can take their turn to choose any gift. The person with the number one can choose any gift and thereafter, each person takes his or her turn. Before they choose a gift, they have the option of taking the gift from the former person. At the end when all numbers have taken or chosen a gift, the person-holding number one can then take a gift away from any other person.

What is always interesting is watching each person as they choose a gift. What happens next usually happens more often than not. The biggest gift always gets chosen first. It is never the smallest gift, nor is it the fanciest gift-wrapping. What does this tell us about most human behavior?

Is the biggest always the best or worth the most? Is it that we think that something small is not worth as much or cannot live up to our expectations?

Human beings, in fact, come in all sorts of packaging and sizes where some are bigger, some smaller; some dressed eloquently, some dressed poorly. Behind every human trapping though lie unforeseen characteristics, talents, desires, hurts and pains and dreams.

"Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities." ~ Terry Josephson

Some of what we so often do is to under evaluate the potential of people who do not fit within our preconceived definition of what is normal or what we view as matching our expectations. It is similar to evaluating the choice of a gift where are previous experiences, desires, or wants far exceeding our current capacity to see beyond what is visually obvious.

The preconceptions that have formed our view of life can be limiting to the point where we are guilty of prejudging everyone we should happen to meet whether in a work situation or in our own personal lives.

The real challenge for all of us is to expand our own capacities to see beyond what our previous prejudices allow us to see. This means that we need to open our minds to the fullness of each person; their opinions, their attributes; their potential. There is much to learn from each person we meet through life. There is also the opportunity to learn, to give, to share, to help, to inform. After all, we grow as people the more we destroy our current narrow views, and give ourselves permission to be challenged, to be wrong, to be humble, to accept that differences are neither bad nor good.

26. Less Is Much Better

Within most of the world, most people would assume that more of something is better than less. This would apply to more money than less, a great job not a poor one, a big house not a tiny one, more friends than less, and more peace than strife. All of these usual desires are not frivolous nor are they wrong.

One of the best attributes, however, is that where we carry no hatred for anyone or anything. Hatred, unfortunately, is alive and well in many parts of the world and this does not exclude developed countries at all. Everyday, one can read or see news clips of graffiti painted on mosques, or crosses burned outside the home of a mixed black couple, or the beating of a teenager who has just come to be known as gay.

"I have only managed to live so long by carrying no hatred." ~ Winston Churchill

In the course of a lifetime, there are many issues that can cause one to become so jaded that everything about that particular situation causes immediate anger or worse. These situations may be encountered because of past experiences, or the way you were brought up or as a result of social conditioning - social conditioning, I might add, in the wrong way.

The problem of hatred is that you carry it with you wherever you go and it constantly erodes the inner fabric of your life. Hatred is much the same as mounting stress, which, as we all know, can lead to devastating results and even leading to being one of the causes of eventually terrible medical problems.

I have known several individuals, unfortunately, who keep hatred close to their heart and with them day in and day out. This was such the case several years when I attended a seminar in Missouri. During a lunch break, I wandered over to a local mall. At this mall, all I saw were Caucasians going from store to store with no African Americans anywhere. I thought this was a bit strange since the area I was in was made up of a large African American population. I also observed, though, armed police officers on patrol.

It was with curiosity that I approached one of the police officers and struck up a conversation. It wasn't long before I asked him why he was in the mall and not on patrol. He turned to me as if I was some dumb northerner and simply said that his presence was a duty assignment to keep all blacks out of the mall.

I won't stoop to the real language he used only to say that he used very derogatory terminology and went on to say that they were all trouble makers and posed nothing but problems over and over again. In fact, he told me that he had special ammunition in his revolver reserved just for them - which meant a bullet that was intended to do as much physical harm as possible to its victim. Hatred was alive and well.

From speaking with old colleagues who know this area of the country quite well, it seems that nothing much has changed over the years - same old hatred, same old problems exacted because of the same old hatred.

This incident occurred many years ago, and it is my hope that today such prejudice would not be occurring. Let's hope if I visited that mall today that everyone would be welcome.

If you want to stay mired in hatred, a hatred that erodes your humanity, than you are not only causing tremendous hurt to others but also to yourself.

27. My Memorable Cab Ride

For millions of us, we have all had the experience of a cab ride some of which we would rather forget, and others that are remarkable in one way or the other. Such was the case a short time ago when I had to take a cab from the car dealership where my vehicle was being repaired.

The driver of this cab, a man in his late thirties, unshaved with a couple days worth of facial hair, and wearing tatty jeans, picked me up and drove me to my destination. As we rolled along the road, I asked him if he was really busy at this time of the year when the weather was relatively warm and pleasant. I usually like to make at least a fleeting acquaintance with all people no matter where I come upon them and this situation was no different.

I simply asked him how business was? He told me briefly that his business was just fine but the cost of gas was really hurting his bottom line. He went on to explain about various taxes including the difference between Canadian gas prices and just across the US border in Maine where gas was a lot less because of a different tax structure. We then entered into a spirited discussion on a lot of different tax issues, social issues, and got around to discussing the job environment.

He told me that he had difficulty getting another type of work because of his background. Not meaning to pry into his life, I asked simply, "Why is that?"

"I am a con" he said straightforwardly. "People look at my record and then I'm toast", he complained. "I know I messed up big time but I've turned my life around and have been clean for several years", he went on to explain quietly and without anger. "By the way", he asked, "what do you do for a living, if you don't mind me asking?"

As we parked at my destination, I thought about my reply for a few seconds before I answered. "I am self-employed and run a small business." I simply answered.

"But," he said, "what did you do before - you don't sound like the usual fare I have - you don't seem to be at all concerned that you are riding with a con."

"I'm not concerned at all." I said. "You did your crime and you paid your time. You've got your life straightened out, that's the important thing. And, by the way, I am a retired criminologist. It never is easy to start a new life but the critical thing is that you are starting. If you really want a different life, you have options."

The cabbie seemed to be in quiet surprise as he looked back at me from the front seat. "Like what kind of options?" he asked.

"If you don't want to drive cab for the rest of your life, then you can make a choice to go back to school, part-time even, so you can qualify for a trade or some other occupation you may be interested in. If you really want to have more, to move beyond sitting in this cab, you can do it if you really want to. Sounds like you do - so why don't you think about it?"

I needed to exit the cab and be on my way so I pulled some bills out of my wallet to pay the fare I could see registered on the meter. But, before the cabbie took my money, he said, "Hey Mister - I don't know who you are, but I really enjoyed talking with you. What you said to me makes a lot sense. I will remember your kindness and that you were real easy to talk with - I hope I see you again."

I bid the cabbie good day and exited the cab. As I was walking away, I felt a moment of pain for that cabbie. I know, from my background, what it is said to be like to be a convict with most people refusing to let you move forward especially when there is a real desire.

But, at the same time, the cabbie is like a lot of other people I have met over the years - only difference is that they are not former criminals they are still in a type of prison each day of the week. These are people who already have a good job and a good reputation but are totally dissatisfied with their life, their job and the seemingly never ending cycle of wishing only for the weekend to come.

The daily prison they go to is one where work is loathed, where each day is full of anguish wishing for something better, pinning their hopes and dreams on those weekly purchases of lottery tickets, or that once a month long shot bet at the horse track. This is a prison of the mind where they can see nothing better - where the mind becomes numb through the week hoping that their short weekend will make up for their misery.

In one way, if these words describe your daily life, you are no different than the former convict - you can see no opportunity - you see only despair - only the same existence day in and day out.

For both, however, there is always an opportunity to change your life if you set your sights at a higher level meaning that you take action to change your life. The decision is your and yours alone.

28. A Car Accident

Catherine and I were on our way to our nephew's birthday party one rainy Saturday morning driving along what some people call moose alley. It was early, few other cars on the road and we were looking forward to a good day spent with family. It wasn't that we hadn't driven this road before, in fact, many, many times through the bush-laden countryside.

Suddenly Seemingly Out of Nowhere

A moose darted out across our path. Fortunately, a quick swerve to the other lane prevented a full impact with only a collision on the right side of our car ripping off the mirror and embedding moose hair down the side of the car, and knocking the moose to the pavement.

  • Shaken But Fine

By the time I stopped and looked back in my rear view mirror, the moose was getting up and then ran into the bush. Shaken but fine, we both looked at each other with a stunned expression. We both knew that moose accidents had claimed many lives throughout the years, and we knew we had been very fortunate to escape with only slight vehicle damage and no personal injury or worse. After a quick check of our vehicle, we started off again.

It took only a few seconds from start to finish in our moose accident but those few seconds in our lives have reverberated through time to this day. Why?

We had often talked about the frailty of life, the here today and gone tomorrow potential we all face but it had never been so personally realistic before. And, it wasn't that we haven't had friends, relatives, and colleagues die before, it was now much more personal. In the matter of seconds, lives can be irreversibly altered; death could have easily been the result.

  • One Near Miss With Death

The value of that one near miss with death has been a positive, a reawakening to the value of each day. Each one of us has only a limited time on this earth; no one can predict when your time will end. But, the time between life and death is a time to give thanks for each day, to see the sun rise again, to know that you can accomplish, can help, can assist others to appreciate their life if they are caught in the poor-me syndrome.

  • The Message Is Clear

Seize each day as if it is your last because that just might be the case. Take each day for the real gift it is; enjoy each day and add a joyful thought or a laugh or a simple appreciation to sit for a moment and enjoy the expression of freedom that it entails.

You have a gift, a gift that is immeasurable in its own right. You can make each day a day of value, or you can chose to complain where you have to right to. What kind of day will you have now?

29. Use It Or Lose It

You can't take it back, cannot find it again, cannot buy it, steal it, borrow it, or use someone else's. You either have total control or it is gone. Each one of us on this earth has the same amount to start with, to use, or to throw away. Do you know what it is?

It is time. We have it to do with as we wish. But, are you really using your time effectively or are you just letting it escape through your fingers like sand through your toes as you walk along the beach?

"Hold fast to time! Use it! Be conscious of each day, each hour!" ~ Thomas Mann

I have a friend who always complains about not having enough time to start a new business that would allow him to make the break from his normal job, a job that he detests with a passion. But, why doesn't he have time?

He doesn't have the time because he spends too much time at work, is totally involved in family activities when he gets home so there is no time left before bed, and where his weekends are filled with activities that take his every waking hour. If this was the case, I could understand completely why he has no available time to pursue even the planning of a new business. But, sadly, none of this is true.

This is a man who does not spend hours at home participating in all kinds of family activities, nor is this a man who has every waking moment used completely on his weekends. Instead, this is a man who comes home every evening to eat and then to sit in front f the TV for the rest of the evening. He spends his weekends doing nothing but watch TV or visiting with friends. Do you think he has time available?

He has the time available if he chooses to use it. Instead, he chooses to waste it. Does he have a burning desire to actually start planning and taking action to begin a new business? No. And, with his current attitude, do you think he could actually make a go of his business? Unlikely. Why? Simply put is because, to run your own business takes a great deal of effort, and a huge amount of time. Those who actually run their own businesses realize all too well that time is scarce and most of their time goes into all those varied but necessary tasks that cannot be done sitting on the sidelines enjoying yourself.

Time is not your enemy. Passion is the enemy or, I should say, the lack of passion, lack of perseverance, lack of the singular focus necessary to succeed. If you want life to roll by without accomplishing anything you want, simply keep throwing your time away. You will never get it back.

30. A Story of a Mother

"A mothers work is never done but, it is always done with love."

For thousands upon thousands of women who are also mothers, I am sure that you could all write your own book about your experiences and those experiences would probably include all those various roles you played while being a mom including teacher, housekeeper, cook, financial manager, sport coach, or many more roles you have to step into whether you liked to or not.

And, for many other moms who also happen to work outside the home, I am also sure you could write a book about what frustrations and rewards you experienced as you juggled both working and being the mother of a family.

I for one also had the experience of working outside the home while trying to balance the responsibilities of looking after two children and a husband. But, I seemed to come through all those years none the worse off and in many ways, being well rewarded with two fine grown children.

The interesting thing for me now is that even with my children grown and with their own families, I still have other mom related responsibilities. And, add to that, I am now a Grandmother of three fine and healthy grandchildren.

"My grandchildren are the joy of my life."

I suppose what I am saying is this: the role of a mother may change over time but the role and responsibilities expand with grown children and especially with the advent of grandchildren. Then, add to this the fact that I still work although at my own business. I still feel that I am doing a balancing act some days with issues to deal with in my business, concerns and issues from my grown children, and the need to see my grandchildren as often as I can along with requests for baby sitting and the overnighters as well

Oh well - that to me is all part of the on-going role of a mother for life.

"A mother's love never ends."

31. Follow Your Own Drummer

Life is interesting. Just when you think you have mastered an aspect of life, it seems there are more challenges thrown our way. What we think, sometimes, is often not what we first believe or seems to change just as we think we are settled on a path or certain direction in life. There are a number of events that seem to distort our perceptions of what we think we wanted.

Such was my case several years ago when I worked for a large organization. My desire was to become a senior manager, a manager who could make a positive impact not just on the projects and issue resolution of the organization but also to help mentor those who wished to progress as well in their own careers.

As time went on, I started to realize something that turned out not to be welcomed within this organization. I lived by a set of ethics, you see, and these ethics seemed to be contrary to the expectations of the organization. It all started to become a bigger and bigger problem the longer I spent within the organization.

In essence, senior staff to me expected that I would cower to their desires even if it meant going against ethical considerations. In one case, an executive ordered me to reveal confidential material from one of my clients. I would not. I was expected to keep client information confidential and that is what I did.

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." ~ Albert Einstein

My refusal to obey his order put me totally behind the eight ball. From that point on, my desire to move up in the hierarchy were blocked until he retired. In my view, it appeared that openness; honesty and ethics were of little value any longer indeed if they had been at any time. But, I carried on fully expecting that sooner or later there would be value - how wrong I was.

To me, not betraying my own ethics was like riding a bicycle. If you gave up peddling, you'd stop; if you turned too fast, you'd fall; and if you got off while the road was steep and difficult to climb, you should find another means of transportation.

What I soon found was that I could no longer find value in working within an organization that changed ethics as fast as they changed their clothes. The main criteria to survive were to change your own values as fast the wind changed direction. I would not nor could not comply.

I needed to find a new environment that valued integrity, honesty, and supported ethics, as the rule not just happened to be expedient or convenient.

I did leave. I found that it was much more satisfying to go out on my own even though the road was very bumpy and filled with huge craters. Would I change anything - do I wish I had stayed for the financial security? No.

Now, many years have passed since I made that critical and life-changing decision. And, if you ask me whether those personal and professional ethics have changed in any way, I would have to say yes.

But, not like you might suspect, instead, my ethics have become even stronger and more pronounced. This set of ethics had followed me, or should I really say, lead me steadily forward. I will not compromise them nor will I consider changing them for anything.

I have been lead by these ethics as I have gone on to start businesses, and to relate to customers who come in or stop by to visit. Each person is given the same information without hesitation; there is no deviation from what is and what is not.

The same set of facts is relayed so there is absolutely no possibility of stretching the truth or relaying a little white lie.

32. Beyond The No-Fault Friend

There is a great characteristic that a friend should have and that is perfection. This perfection is not in the standard way we think about perfection, though, it means instead that it is perfection that talks more about understanding that each friend has their own faults and that each accepts those faults of the other.

"Every man should have a fair-sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends." ~ Henry Adams

No one is a perfect human being. To me, it is impossible to be perfect. This does not mean, however, that imperfections should stand in the way of being good friends with another.

One of the keys to establishing a friendship in the first instance is to have common ground upon which each other can relate. Such was the case of an old friend of mine when we first met and where our interest in music was the binding commonality. And, this friendship blossomed over the years with greater understanding, more interest, and the ability of each to grow as mature individuals.

On the other hand, you will meet people throughout the years that desire to be your friend but there are major issues that prevent you from feeling comfortable with this person. Despite their desire to be friends, you are unable to find either common ground or aspects that are totally foreign to your way of thinking and behaving.

A couple of years ago, I was in that very situation where my friendship was sought but where I could not find any reason to establish a friendship. This particular person had a set of personal ethics that clashed totally with how I though, acted and believed. Is this case, there was no common ground at all.

Not every person you meet will be a friend, and not every person will want to be friends with you. What is important to remember, though, is that what one sees as common ground is common to someone else and it is only a matter of finding that person to share your friendship with.

One of the other factors that can derail a friendship is time. In this instance, time goes by and each one of us is usually developing along with it. In some situations, though, what started out as common ground changes and these changes may be of so great a significance that they serve to distance one friend from another.

For example, where one person's negative thinking may have been overlooked previously, it becomes more and more difficult to continue a friendship when the other becomes more and more positive or solution oriented in both their personal and professional life. As we know all too well, negative thinking people only serve to bring you down in life; they drain your energy.

The decision to keep a friend also means that as you grow and develop, you would also hope that a friend goes along the same path of development.

The difficulty arises when one or the other friend seems to be stuck in the same way of thinking and living and has not changed. This does not necessarily mean that their way of thinking or doing things is wrong in and of itself but is more that the other friend is in a different space and time. These differences can tend to cause a rift where what was once a commonality of doing and thinking the same way are now diametrically opposed to each other. It is these differences then that can place a rift between what were once really good friends. Sometimes, though, it is easier to mend a fence than to construct a new one so one must decide if a real friend is one to keep looking instead at the positives that remain and not focusing on the negatives.

33. The Beginnings of Teamwork

Long before the buzzword of teamwork was used, I learned about how a team operates. Be inspired by the wisdom in this story and let it remind you of how a team works.

There has been a lot written in the past couple of years of the value and necessity of teamwork. I, for one, have worked within team environments for many years. But, I learned about teamwork many years before the term became a popular buzzword in organizations. Are large organizations the only places where teamwork exists, or must be learned? How and when did I learn about teams?

When I was a teenager, I had the opportunity to visit many country farms tagging along with my father who taught music lessons to many farm kids. I always remember one farm in particular where both of the farmer's sons took Spanish guitar lessons from my father.

The farm on which they boys lived was a small dairy farm where milking of the Holstein herd was a daily routine both early morning and at night. The farm was big enough, though, that one person, the father, could not manage it alone and certainly could not do all the chores by himself as well as plant the hay crops in the early spring and harvest the hay for his cows both in late June and in early September. This meant that if the farm was to grow and support the family, everyone had to pitch and help.

This meant that each member of the family, including the farmer's wife, all had a set of defined responsibilities on a daily basis, seven days a week. As you may know, dairy herds must be milked every day including Saturday and Sunday - there is no rest on a farm - no days off -no sick time - nor any holidays.

So, what developed through necessity was the original teamwork- teamwork that meant survival, growth and enough money to feed the family, buy the necessary farm supplies like fencing and machinery. If there was no teamwork, there would be no farm - it was that simple.

If you have a chance some time in the future, I would encourage you to visit a working farm where family members all work together to make an operation a success. It is too bad that more people couldn't experience the original team on a farm before they start to talk about what teams are and how they should operate - they may learn more than they might first realize.

I worked on this particular farm from time to time for a couple of years and I certainly found out a lot. I found out how hard the work is, what being punctual meant when you needed to milk a herd of cattle at a set time, feed them at a certain time, and to finish one task completely in a short time period because there was another chore waiting to be done.

Farms have become even bigger business today. No longer are there the small one hundred acres farms unless of course those that are only a hobby farm.

And, as farms grew in acreage, the machines to work them even more expensive, and the knowledge of crop rotation, seed, restrictions on fertilizers, and how to survive by investing in the commodity markets.

Do you want to learn about teams and teamwork - visit a farm today.

34. May Not And Perhaps

The power of the right words can make the difference between moving forward to accomplishments or the realization of a dream, or staying stuck where you are, or casting oneself in the role of failure.

One thing is for certain, though. If you always see yourself as failing, you are more likely than not to be just that. The power of how you visualize the world is directly connected to how you see yourself and how you speak. If you see the world as full of problems, obstacles or roadblocks to change yourself, start or learn new skills, or to begin the adventure of being your own boss in your own business, you already have allowed defeatism to enter into the equation. In essence, you have set yourself up to fail before you have even started.

For example, if you use the words "I probably will not make enough money to make a living" already has a failure element built into this perception, whereas the words, "I will, perhaps, make enough money to make a living", give potential a fair opportunity to live on.

A few months ago, I was visiting a couple that I have known for years. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, they began to tell me about a home business they were going to start. It had to do with catering meals to local special events, old age homes, and small office functions like birthdays, or promotions.

The husband said, "that they might make enough money to cover their costs" while the wife said, "they were going to be able to make enough money to expand their business to their own commercial establishment." He told me that they had to start small and not go to fast while she argued that they should expand as quickly as possible so they could build up a decent clientele that would help spread the word and to make enough money to expand.

In fact, in just a couple of weeks, they had started to secure a couple of clients. From what I could tell, they appeared to have a great idea, and had at least started when others would have simply talked about it. It seemed they were off and running.

In the last couple of weeks, I stopped in to see them again to see how they were doing with their new catering business. As soon as I walked in, I felt a sense that something was wrong. I asked them both if something had happened?

The first to speak was the husband who bluntly and concisely told me that they stopped their catering business. He turned and looked directly at his wife and said' "I told you we had to go slow, but you wouldn't listen. Now we have been left with a lot of kitchen utensils and equipment that we don't need and paid for out of our own pockets".

She looked at me seemingly hesitant to respond but did so after I asked her exactly what happened. She reluctantly told me that they had been doing quite well and had several new clients. But, they had received a visit in their home by an inspector from the local health authority that wanted to ensure that their kitchen preparation area was up to code. It wasn't. So, they were told that unless they had a proper food preparation area, they must cease operations.

Unfortunately, the defeatism attitude of the husband ruled the day. It was all about blame, and "I told you so" rather than about how to find a solution to this obstacle. It is a situation where one person had started with an "I doubt it" attitude and where another started with a "We can" attitude. Without both parties being on the same page, there was little hope that a solution would be found, or, even explored.

How big a role did selected words have in defeating this new business venture? I would have to say a great deal. Words are powerhouses of feelings, attitudes and reflect what you believe. If you want to succeed in absolutely anything, choose your words correctly, believe what they mean, and live up to these words daily.

35. Selling Our Business

Have you ever thought that you had finally made the right decision only to find out later that it may not have been the right decision after all? Well, life isn't perfect - who ever said it was. Things happen, circumstances change and challenges arise for all of us. No life is ever just the way we planned.

Some of you many know that my wife and I moved to the country about eight years ago after leaving our corporate jobs and starting our own businesses. The house we bought wasn't in the best of shape but it had a certain appeal since it was in a great area and not that far from the city. It needed a lot of tender loving care, as the expression goes, and we certainly poured a lot of sweat, toil and money into making it a very comfortable home.

"What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise." ~ Oscar Wilde

Over the next few years, we started two separate businesses and thankfully both businesses flourished. We really didn't expect that to be the case, it just seemed to happen. I'm not saying it wasn't a lot of work or anything like that. For those of you who own your business, you know full well the time, dedication and hard work to make a business prosperous.

But, isn't there always a but, the location we chose could not get high-speed Internet connection. You see, we needed high speed in order to properly work at our websites. No matter how hard we tried, no matter whom we called, we were left with a satellite connection which is fine for surfing the web but not for developing websites.

Trials and tribulations. We all have them but sometimes they are a blessing in disguise. In our case, we also knew that sooner or later we would have to move closer to the city, as we wanted to be closer to our grandchildren. So, we decided some months ago to buy a little piece of land that would only be a few short miles from the city. But, that was last year and we haven't done a thing, but there was the hope that we would move there some day in the near future.

As fate would have it, and as tribulations go, the Internet isn't providing the service we need.

So, what do you do? Moan, complain, write letters, and speak to anyone who will listen? No. What does that get you? Nothing at all.

The solution is obvious but not something that was necessarily planned this soon to happen. We are going to sell our home and our glass business even though we like it here. But, sometimes trials and tribulations are for the best. It seems that destiny had a plan long ago for us to move closer to the city and here we are ready to make that step.

Now, a new wrinkle has developed that will probably see us here in our country location for maybe even two more years. You see what I mean. Not everything that is planned will come to you when you want it, or, in some cases may not come at all.

So, we shall take a wait and see attitude for the next little while but will not give up our opportunity to move when the time is right. That's the other funny thing about life. Not everything is on a secure timeline where some things happen sooner than expected, and some things end up being delayed.

Trials, tribulation can lead you down a new path, a new beginning, a much more satisfied life if you understand how to turn each of these conditions into hope and action.

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