Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "Lesson from a First Lady"

As she walked gracefully toward the lighted stage that was her destination, I sat there wondering, “What is former first lady Laura Bush going to say to more than 19,000 gathered for a “Get Motivated” seminar?

She stood behind a podium and, unlike the other speakers, read from prepared notes. She talked about the criticism of her husband’s presidency, calling it “the sacred music of democracy.” She also talked about September 11, 2001. Sadness over lives lost and fear running rampant. Bush talked about White House employees – upon learning their place of work was an intended target – removing their high-heeled shoes and running for their lives away from our nation’s most revered building. Back in the spotlight of a special event, she seemed relieved it was an exception to the relative quiet of the Bush’s retirement years in Texas.

At the end of her presentation, our former first lady told a final story about her husband. October 2001, at Yankee Stadium in New York, the Yankees hosted a World Series game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. President Bush was throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Security was intense as the nation’s 43rd chief executive took some time before the game, under the aging stadium’s stands, to loosen his arm. As the president was warming up, Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter walked by. President Bush asked the future Hall-of-Famer if he should throw from the mound, or from just in front of it.

“Be a man,” joked the future Hall of Fame shortstop. “Throw it from the mound. But don’t bounce it up there. The crowd will boo you.”

Bush took Jeter’s advice, and according to his wife, threw a decent pitch – that did not bounce. Laura Bush’s message was this: “sometimes in life, you may feel like you’re all alone with many watching you. It’s then that you have to reach back, go for it and see what happens.”

Whenever I have the pleasure of giving a Pep Talk to a group, it’s what we talk about in encouraging others to “put fear and self doubt aside and allow wonderment to win.” It’s not always easy, sometimes can be frightening, but the rewards are often so worth the effort!

This week, have the courage – in healthy and productive ways – to climb atop your own hill, stand tall, reach back and fire away. The setting probably won’t be as dramatic as Yankee Stadium, that doesn’t matter.

What matters is what happens to you in attempting to become superior to your former self. As we head toward a new year remember, the constant pursuit of improvement will always make you a winner.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "Unceasing in Pursuit"

It was the morning after, earlier this 2009 NFL season, Pittsburgh manhandled Denver in a Monday night football game. I’m at the gym when two of my favorite people appear: Bob and Alice Bosworth. They, like me, are big believers in the “sweat a day keeps the doctor away” philosophy. Bob, a retired doctor, also is a big sports fan. The conversation quickly turns to the Steelers’ convincing win.

“Man, that Pittsburgh defense,” says Bob before beginning his workout. “They are relentless.” I nodded my head in agreement and continued my workout while the word “relentless” churned in my brain. Defined as “unceasing in pursuit” the word is often used in sports. But we also hear “relentless” used to describe someone’s courting of another’s affection; someone’s determination to succeed in business; someone’s dedication to academic excellence; someone’s quest for physically fitness.

Bob and Alice Bosworth are unceasing in pursuit of physical fitness. Each is in their 80’s, Bob uses a cane to get around, but the darling couple are at the gym EVERY MORNING in their relentless mission to counteract Father Time’s methodical march to weaken our aging bodies.

As the Comeback Coach, I’m always encouraging others to “courageously eliminate any self-destructive behavior that’s preventing you from expressing yourself in healthy and productive ways.” I go on to ask, “What are you putting in your bodies? What are you putting in your minds? Who are you hanging out with? Are they raising you up, or dragging you down?

We're so busy running around buying gifts for others at this time of year... how about we embrace a gift for ourselves: a relentless effort to eliminate any thoughts, words or actions that no longer serve us in healthy and productive fashion. What challenge of yours needs to be attacked and defeated in the manner a relentless Steelers’ defense displayed in keeping the Broncos’ offense from scoring a touchdown the entire game?

What’s it take to be relentless? What does it take to be unceasing in pursuit of excellence at home, work or community?

I think first it takes a real passion for what we’re pursuing. It has to be something that really motivates and inspires us. That’s why it’s so important to be very thoughtful about what we’re unceasingly pursuing. Being relentless can also be destructive. This week, be unceasing in pursuit, ONLY, of things that honor you, nurture those dependent upon you and add value to the communities you serve.

That will empower you to run to daylight and play like a champion in the game of life much like it empowers the Bosworth’s unceasing pursuit of fitness.

Monday, December 14, 2009

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "Trangression Trumping Test"

I have watched with equal parts dismay, shock and wonderment the adversity surrounding Tiger Woods. It’s another example – there are many – of individuals who seemingly have it all: fame, fortune and a beautiful family but obviously there’s something missing. In Tiger’s case, that void leading to, in his words, committing “transgressions” against his values and family.

In days as a Denver television sportscaster, I met Tiger twice, the two years he played in the now-departed International Golf Tournament. He was accommodating to the media and seemed like a pretty good guy.

I also know from many years of traveling with professional sports teams that the temptations for athletes to commit “transgressions” while on the road are abundant and ever-present: it was always an interesting people-watching moment when we’d roll into another city and observe the team’s hotel lobby and its plethora of beautiful and seductively-dressed women. I don’t think they were gathered to tempt the media.

Transgressions. Defined in Oxford American Dictionary as “to go beyond a limitation; to sin” is what the world’s most identifiable athlete has called his marriage-threatening behavior. We can use this life-changing moment in Tiger’s life as a good reminder to take inventory of our lives. How are we handling the temptation to go beyond a healthy and productive limitation at home, work or community?

When giving Pep Talks to groups I try and encourage others to always remember a statement that can serve as a transgression-trumping test. I challenge others to, in thoughts, words and actions, only partake in things that honor them, nurture those dependent upon them and add value to the communities they serve.

How long does it take to ask that question when we’re tempted to go beyond a limitation? “Does it honor me, nurture those dependent upon me and add value to the communities I serve?” I just timed it, about eight seconds, maximum.

When – not if - temptation to go beyond a limitation arises in your life, it might be the best eight seconds you’ll ever utilize. Stop, take a deep breath and ask yourself the transgression-trumping question: “Does what I thinking about doing, honor, nurture and add value?” If the answer is no, have the guts to listen to your intuition.

Whether rich and famous or just an average Joe or Jane, we all face temptations to go beyond limitations. The venue could be home, work or community. Trust the transgression-trumping test. Embrace it always and you’ll find yourself a champion in the most important game there is, the game of life.

Monday, December 7, 2009

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "Solve the Unsolvable"

I had just settled into my seat for a “Get Motivated” seminar when the arena loudspeakers reverberated with: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome America’s best inspirational speaker, Dr. Robert Schuller!”

Now in his 80’s, the man who invented the world “televangelist” slowly walked toward the stage. He spoke just a short while, his words centered on a chance meeting years ago, on a flight from the East Coast to California. The man sitting next to Schuller was quite chatty. At first, it was an annoyance to the minister who was looking forward to napping on the long flight home.

The chatty man, head of mathematics at a West Coast university, was returning from a speaking engagement himself. The story he told Schuller was a powerful reminder of what the Comeback Coach talks about when confronting change, challenge or adversity: “Be limited only by imagination, not fear, in creating productive choices to the challenges we face.”

Here’s the story: While in college during the Great Depression, this young math enthusiast faced a final exam where the students knew the highest score guaranteed a job as an assistant professor – a great opportunity during such desperate economic times.

The exam had eight problems. The professor also wrote two more problems on the board. “Extra credit” is what the student-turned-storyteller sitting next to Schuller remembers hearing about those two problems on the chalkboard. After completing the eight problems, the student approached the professor and asked for more time to solve the extra credit problems. “No problem,” the professor said. “You have the weekend.”

The student worked day and night and finally solved – or thought he had solved – one of the two. Frustrated, he turned in the work, knowing in his heart surely someone else had solved each. The chance for that treasured job had surely been missed.

The next morning the student was awakened by a knock at the door. It’s his professor congratulating him on earning the job. “What, I can’t believe this!” said the startled student. The professor continued, “You’re the only one who even tried to solve the extra credit problems. I had told the class they were unsolvable, but you apparently didn’t hear that and tried, and succeeded, on one of them. The job is yours.”

Schuller then drove home the point to the silenced crowd. “Eliminate the word ‘impossible’ from your dictionary. Believe within you – despite what might appear to be true at the moment – that you can solve the unsolvable.”

This week, wherever it might be necessary, let that be your truth, okay?

Monday, November 30, 2009

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "Add One More"

I was running errands on Saturday afternoon. I bump into some buddies. One is wearing a New York Yankees cap and lives in Colorado. I wish he were wearing a Rockies’ cap and query, “Yankees cap, huh? It’s pretty cool they just won their 27th world championship.” He thanked me and joked, “Yeah, I love the Yankees despite the fact I’m from Louisiana and live in Colorado.”

The journalist in me couldn’t resist and offered: “Yeah, and it’s cool for Joe Girardi. When he took the Yankees job a few years ago he purposely chose #27. The once-proud Yankees had been stuck on 26 world championships for too long. Each time Girardi popped out of the dugout, to make decisions, it was a statement, declaring: “We are after number 27!”

They achieved the goal. Good for Joe. Back in 1993, as a sportscaster in Denver I covered the expansion Rockies heavily. Girardi, team leader and starting catcher, served as Channel 4’s Rockies’ insider. I got to know Joe pretty well. He’s a good dude.

The Illinois native is the kind of guy who reminds me of former CU Coach Bill McCartney. I used to host Coach Mac’s television show and we stay in touch. I love it when he talks about “fox hole kinda guys.” These are individuals willing to charge from the foxhole united in trying to prevail against whatever, or whoever, lies ahead. In honor of the 1989 CU Buff football team let’s call that, “One Heart Beat.”

Anyway, Girardi’s a “fox-hole kinda guy” and has the guts, smarts and/or instructions to wear, in the middle of his back, a number that shouts to the upper deck: anything less than being a champion is unacceptable.

I think that’s pretty cool and challenges us to try something similar. Let’s make a vow to one another - in ways that honor, nurture and add value – to “add one more” in three venues of life: home, work and community.

When I’m out encouraging others to turn life’s lemons – the heck with lemonade – into sweet and savory margaritas – audience members are challenged often to “become superior to their former selves.”

It’s not easy. There will be rough spots. McCartney calls those moments, “tough sledding.” Refuse to become a victim of circumstances – we all have them – and vow to become a student of the experience. In healthy and productive ways embrace “add one more” at home, work and community. You, your family, business and community will benefit because you are playing like a champion in the game of life.

Monday, November 23, 2009

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "GOAL Setting"

I have a confession to make: I have an addiction. But I think it honors me, nurtures those dependent upon me and adds value to the communities I serve. I love creating acronyms, or hearing others’ acronyms, designed to encourage us to, as I like to say, “Transform life’s lemons – the heck with lemonade – into sweet and savory margaritas.”

First, let’s start with the definition. Oxford American Dictionary defines acronym as: “a word formed from the initial letters of other words.” Many are well known, like: “RSVP” which stands for “Repondez S’il Vous Plait – French for “please reply – or “ATM” for automated teller machine.

One of my personal favorites comes from my work as the Comeback Coach. I always encourage others to be a JOCK. I don’t care how old audience members are; what kind of physical shape they’re in; whether they have an athletic bone in their body or not, I encourage them to be a JOCK. That means being: Joyful for our blessings, Optimistic about our future, Courageous despite our past, which leads, usually, to Kickin’ some butt in life.

At all times, I wear a JOCK wristband to challenge myself to walk that talk. Some friends joke it’s my jockstrap. Anyway, I also love hearing others share their favorite acronyms. Recently while speaking at an event, the talented gentlemen who followed me onto the stage offered two I absolutely loved and wanted to share with you.

The first is FEAR. Often we see this acronym described as “False Expectations Appearing Real.” Well, Don Awalt has another take on fear. He describes it as, “Forget Everything And Return.” He was referring to how often in life, we try and take courageous steps to move forward, to grow, to get outside our comfort zone, but then at the first sign of resistance, we retreat. We fall back into old habits, forget everything we’ve learned and return to past behaviors, attitudes and beliefs we know no longer serve us.

Toward the end of his presentation, Awalt offered another acronym that vibrated my bones. While talking about the importance of having a goal in life he pronounced: “Go Out And Live.”

Ain’t that the truth. This week, regardless of whatever change, challenge and adversity is present in your life, make it your mission, your goal to, Go Out And Live.

Maybe it starts with being joyful for your blessings, optimistic about your future, courageous despite your past. I promise you, that kind of attitude will not hurt your chances of having a kickbutt week, month, year and life.

Monday, November 16, 2009

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "Listen, Trust & Obey"

The first major Fall 2009 snowstorm was descending upon the Mile High City but my darling girlfriend and I, craving our favorite Mexican food, headed out into the elements for tacos al carbon and carnitas – weather be damned!

Trying to be a gentleman, I pulled in front of Benny’s, to allow the successful businesswoman to jump out and walk right into the thriving restaurant. Then I drove around to the back of the establishment and parked in a deserted lot. It wasn’t Benny’s designated lot but I had parked there several times before without a problem – there are rarely any cars parked there. But for whatever reason, this time something inside of me said, “Maybe you shouldn’t park here?” I ignored my own advice.

About an hour and a half later, after the usual tasty meal complete with too many chips/salsa but just the right amount of margaritas, I mention to my better half, “Hang right here, I’ll go get the car and pick you up at the front door.”

I rush out into the elements, sprint around the corner of the building and suddenly discover, “My car is gone!” I wander back to the restaurant, angry with myself that I failed to heed, as Emerson would say, “The vibration of the iron string within.”

I talk about that often as the Comeback Coach. That quite often in life, in retrospect, we can name several times when we ignore our intuition that’s screaming “don’t do that you’ll be sorry” or “do that, it’s going to be good.” Either way, when we fail to heed our intuition’s call, unfortunate stuff usually happens.

The next morning, with snow falling heavier, I’m standing outside a tow lot in an industrial park on Denver’s northwest side. The guy who towed my car has it incarcerated behind a barbed wire fence with attack dogs roaming. He finally shows up 90 minutes late.

I have to hand over $200 bucks to free my vehicle. Half a day and too much money wasted, because I ignored my intuition. Learn from my knucklehead mistake, when you feel the vibration of the iron string within, listen, trust and obey it, okay?

I ignored “it” and lost time and money. However, it’s a reminder that failing to follow one’s intuition can have far greater repercussions concerning our families, jobs or communities. Let the words of infamous cartoon character Jiminy Cricket be our mantra: “Let your conscious be your guide.”

Rarely, if ever, will you be disappointed when you listen, trust and obey it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "Bound and Determined"

The world was transfixed recently on Colorado and the drama unfolding as the “Balloon Boy” saga captured imaginations, stoked fears and ultimately, had us wondering, what the heck is going on here?

There has been much debate about the craziness of it all, including the welfare of the three children, but this Pep Talk is not about that. It’s about Denver Post columnist Tina Griego’s thoughts concerning the event. Her focus was a law enforcement officer, the first person to reach the UFO-looking craft when it finally descended into a plowed and furrowed field north of Denver International Airport.

Griego describes watching on television, the Larimer County Sheriff’s deputy, after scrambling from his vehicle, frantically churning through the field, sprinting toward the balloon to ensure it didn’t bounce back into the air. Mike Byers - a father of two - did not know for certain whether a six-year-old boy was inside a small compartment attached to the helium-filled balloon.

Griego’s words that jumped out at me were, “the man was bound and determined” to secure that balloon.

For those who have never tried it, running through a plowed and furrowed field is tough -imagine running through sand on a trench-filled beach. Griego used the perfect phrase to describe Byers’ effort: he was “bound and determined.”

Thank goodness there was no child aboard but, to the point, when was the last time you were “bound and determined” to achieve something that honors you, nurtures those dependent upon you and adds value to the communities you serve?

As the Comeback Coach, I’m always encouraging others, despite the misfortune life throws our way, to keep “putting fear and self doubt aside and go for it – run to daylight.” That’s easy for me to say, easy for others to affirm. But let’s be honest, it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to change thoughts, words and actions we know no longer serve us.

We must be bound and determined to make the changes necessary to improve our lives. The journey will not always be easy; we might often feel like we’re struggling through a plowed and furrowed field of fear, anxiety, guilt and hopelessness.
Keep churning, most importantly your spirit! Remember, success lies more in effort than talent. Be “bound and determined” to become superior to your former self. When the going gets tough, and it will, remember the wise words of Confucius: “The greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising up every time we fall.”

Monday, November 2, 2009

This week's Pep Talk Blog: Discipline Does It"

It was a beautiful Colorado fall Sunday morning and I’m slowly driving – should have biked I know – the eight blocks south of my home to the gym. Suddenly, my path is blocked: the fourth Denver Marathon is weaving through the neighborhood. “How far into the race are they?” I asked the police officer directing traffic and safeguarding the runners. “They’re about halfway.” he answers with a grin.

Idling in my car, waiting for them to pass, I thought of my own marathon experiences, I’ve run three: Big Sur, Vancouver and Boston. I watch the runner’s expressions 13 miles into the journey: some look fresh, others not so fresh and a few look like inwardly they’re asking, “What the hell made you think this was a good idea?”

My mind drifts to the hours of work each participant has devoted to preparing for a marathon. It takes a tremendous amount of sacrifice. It makes me think of training runs with my marathon buddy, Dr. Andy Johanos. I always thought it was pretty smart to be accompanied on 18-22 mile workouts by an emergency physician.

And then my mind wanders, as the policeman finally waves me through the intersection, to what this moment is really all about: discipline. These runners are wonderful examples of the power of discipline, defined as: “training that produces a particular skill.”

Discipline led to many hours of running and produced a particular skill: the willingness to try, and hopefully fulfill, the not-so-easy task of running 26.2 miles.

As I near the gym, the word “discipline” is vibrating my bones. As the Comeback Coach I talk often about “courageously eliminating any self-destructive behavior that’s preventing you from expressing yourself in healthy and productive ways.” That takes discipline. I go on to ask, “What are you putting in your bodies, your minds, who are you hanging out with? Are they raising you up, or dragging you down?”

It’s about having the courage to train our minds, bodies and souls to gain a particular skill. It might be running a marathon, quitting smoking, drinking in excess, losing weight, remaining faithful in our relationships, spending more time with the kids, working smarter at business. The venues change but the strategy’s the same. It takes discipline.

Life is a marathon, a long journey. This week, let’s promise ourselves to take action in “training that produces a particular skill” in an area we know could use improvement. Trust me, the sense of accomplishment you’ll experience will rival that incredible feeling marathoners experience when they cross that finish line, exhausted but victorious.

Monday, October 26, 2009

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "If Only for Curiosity"

I recently joined almost 19,000 other people for a “Get Motivated” seminar at the Pepsi Center in Denver. It was a day chock full of inspiration and information about, as I like to say, turning life’s lemons – the heck with lemonade – into sweet and savory margaritas.

One of the featured speakers was Colin Powell. When he talks about leadership, it would be wise for us to listen considering his resume: four-star general, former national security advisor and secretary of state to name just three important roles he has successfully fulfilled in service to our country.

It wasn’t always so rosy for the New York native. He was struggling academically at City College of New York, barely making passing grades, except for his work in ROTC. Advisors at school kept urging the Harlem native, “go into the army.” He finally followed their advice, and the rest is history. His message to the sellout crowd: “It’s not where you start, but where you finish.”

In each and every Run to Daylight presentation, as the Comeback Coach, I encourage others to “put fear and self doubt aside and allow wonderment to win.” That’s exactly what Powell did in foregoing his academic studies and heading for a military career where his natural leadership skills were fine-tuned and perfected.

At one point in his presentation, the nation’s first African-American Secretary of State talked about his early military years at Fort Benning, Georgia. A superior was talking to Powell about leadership and offered: “True leaders are the types that others will follow, if only out of curiosity.”

I sat there in the darkened arena furiously trying to write that down before the powerful statement escaped my consciousness and was lost to the galaxy. Man, that takes tremendous faith to follow someone “if only for curiosity.”

To possess that type of leadership skill one must possess many values: trustworthiness, dependability, intelligence and vision, to name just four. And you know what, those types of leadership traits transfer from the battlefields of war and diplomacy: they are true on the front lines of our lives at home, work and community.

This week, through demonstrating proven leadership skills of trust, dependability, smarts and creativity create an environment – in all areas you roam – where others would be willing to follow you, “if only for curiosity.”

It obviously has worked for Colin Powell. It can work for each of us too. Leadership is leadership, the venues may change, but the strategies – and values – are the same.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This Week's Pep Talk Blog: "Opponents as Allies"

A friend recently needed a ride to a counseling appointment. I was honored to assist. While this wonderful human being chatted with a psychologist about life’s challenges I sat in the waiting room, reading. My attention turned to a recent edition of Psychology Today and an article about the three Emanuel brothers: Rahm, chief of staff to President Obama; the eldest Zeke, head of bioethics at the National Institute of Health; Ari, a Hollywood super agent and inspiration behind HBO’s hit show Entourage.

What jumped out at me was the atmosphere prevalent at the family dinner table as the three siblings grew up in Chicago. The conversation was always robust. Rahm called it “gladiatorial.” Zeke on the other hand, remembers the exchange of ideas within the Jewish family as more of a “Talmudic debate” where an opponent’s views are considered an ally in the search for truth.

I just about levitated from the comfy chair: to view an opponent as an ally in the search for truth? What a fantastic proposition! My thoughts immediately focused on our elected politicians. Imagine what they could accomplish if they began to view the views of brethren-across-the aisle as allies in the search for truth?

But a nanosecond later, my thoughts shifted to other areas where a similar philosophy of engaging the so-called enemy - instead of avoiding or disdaining them - might lead toward more harmony and goodwill: our homes, workplaces and communities.

As the Comeback Coach, I’m always talking about being “limited only by imagination, not fear, in creating productive choices to the challenges we face.” Often, when we’re in the midst of challenges at home, work or community, it’s quite tempting to dig our heels in and refuse – often out of fear - to consider a differing viewpoint. But in keeping with the Talmudic debate theory, could it be wise to embrace our perceived opponent’s thoughts as an ally in the search for truth?

It’s always been my belief that a willingness to consider diametrically opposed viewpoints can open the door, not for compromise, but for creativity in creating mutually satisfying solutions far greater than imaginable if one is left to personal thoughts, beliefs and opinions.

This week, let’s all take a cue from the Emanuel’s. When our viewpoints are challenged, embrace differing opinions as an ally in the search for truth. We can also remember the wise words of English poet Alexander Pope: “A person should never be ashamed to admit they are wrong, which is but saying they are wiser today than yesterday.”

Monday, October 12, 2009

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "A+: Leno's Imagination"

One of the real blessings of my life is, often, others ask me to be master of ceremonies for their various events, whether the event is to raise money or awareness. I love helping organizations achieve either productive goal.

Recently it was my honor to perform such duties at an event for Savio, www.saviohouse.org, and its mission to, as the website says: “offer comprehensive services that strengthen families, prevent child abuse, neglect and delinquency.” This wonderful evening also included a comedian, Frank King. He’s a North Carolina native who’s funny but in a caring way, if that’s possible. Anyway, we’re sitting next to each other through dinner and we’re chatting away – swapping war stories from the speaking and media world – when he tells me a story about Jay Leno. “I have written jokes for years that often Leno uses,” King confessed. “He’s always good about paying up.”

Then King, who has been on the speaking circuit for 20 years, tells another impressive story about NBC’s comedic superstar. “Jay at one point in life wanted to be a Rolls-Royce mechanic,” King tells me. “The dealership turned him down. But he noticed what the servicemen were wearing. Went to local store and bought similar outfit. Showed up the next day and acted like he belonged.”

My eyes were growing wide as King continued: “Finally, the service manager and general manager figure out what’s going on. They are ready to confront Leno when a fellow serviceman pulls out from under nearby car and grunts: Whomever decided to hire this guy is smart, because he’s talented.”

Leno had the job. In each and every Run to Daylight presentation, I challenge others to be “limited only by imagination, not fear in creating productive choices to the challenges you face. That’s what Leno did. His imagination created “act like you belong” and overcome the internal, or external, fear-based objections that shouted, “Are you crazy!”

This week, let’s take a cue from the legendary Leno and really believe in imagination conquering fear. But here’s the key: make sure in your attempt to achieve that goal it’s done in ways that honor you, nurture those dependent upon you and add value to the communities you serve.

That’s running to daylight and play like a champion. Leno’s imagination, in getting that mechanic’s job, was stronger than his fear. It can be the same for you. Be trust me, it won’t happen without you putting, as I like to say: “fear and self doubt aside and allowing wonderment to win.”

Monday, October 5, 2009

This week's Pep Talk: "The Roller Coaster called Life"

There are moments in a parent’s life when it is tempting to do whatever necessary to erase the frustration and sadness present on our children's faces and permeating their souls.

I had one of those recently – shared by my daughter’s wonderful mom too – as we witnessed our beautiful and moody seventh-grade darling have one of those “days.”

This day started with much elation: Rachie finally, after much discussion, was allowed to get contact lenses. No more squinting to see the teacher and instructions being written on the whiteboard at school. “Wearing my glasses in school? Dad, are you kidding me?” Logic is often in dispute for teens and parents, right?

This bundle of wonderment passed the “can you place the contacts in your eye and take them out” test in quick fashion and we headed for the car energized by her “freedom from four eyes.” The mood changed dramatically a few hours later, when, while at the orthodontist, the doctor put braces back on ALL her upper teeth. We were expecting a few braces to return, but not all. “Too much shifting since we took them off. This will be just a month. It’s the right thing to do,” said the ortho. He shared everyone’s disappointment.

The drive home was quite somber. Hating the silence that engulfed the car like bad gas, I blurted out, “Life, man, it will throw you curveballs when you least expect it.” I really didn’t expect a response. I just hoped she realized if her mother or I could, we would have done anything to eradicate her sadness and disappointment.

As the Comeback Coach I’m always trying to encourage others to keep a healthy attitude toward change. I know it’s not easy, but quite often, once the dust settles and the pain subsides we realize change bring things into our lives worth keeping no matter what. I didn’t say that to a 12-year-old image-conscious girl at the moment, but I’m saying it to you now.

Life has its share of ups and downs. It’s a roller coaster ride without question. So the question becomes, “How are we going to deal with the pain and disappointment? Are we going to be a victim of the circumstance or a student of the experience?

Choose wisely. If for no other reason, young and impressionable lives – our kids – will learn from us and our ability - or inability - to effectively deal with change, challenge and adversity. We are teachers, be a good one, okay?

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Set Me Free"

Whenever I have a chance to write, or speak, about effectively dealing with change, challenge and adversity, the message always includes this thought: “be limited only by imagination, not fear, in creating productive choices to the challenges we face.”

It’s my belief that type of attitude is the key to success to whatever ails us: at home, work or community. We have to put fear and self doubt aside, and as the Comeback Coach likes to say “allow wonderment to win.”

That’s an accurate description of the attitude a busload of men took with them recently while heading from Denver to Sterling, Colorado. These men – I was invited to join them - shared many traits: faith, membership in the same church, passion to help other men and past experiences. Moments in life that, except for grace or luck, would have had them inside our destination: the Sterling Correctional Facility where more than 2,500 men are “in the joint” for crimes against humanity.

A powerful moment was early in the visit, when one of the offenders asked our group, “Who are you and what inspired you to drive 100 miles to visit with us?” That question unleashed a torrent of honesty from more than a dozen men about addictions and challenges – usually centered on alcohol, drugs or lust – that, again, for whatever reason, grace or luck, had us inside the walls with, clipped on our shirts, a pass to freedom.

I shared my story of a severe head injury ending a promising athletic career. I also shared about deciding to drown my sorrow in booze and many nights of having no clue, or recollection, of how I navigated a car home safely from the college hangouts. It was not until a few years later when I went back to graduate school and earned a master’s degree in journalism and began my sportscasting career that I truly regained a focus and purpose for life. I was struck by the irony of it all: Human beings, you, me and others usually have challenges and addictions that have us feeling like we’re “locked up” with no escape, whether we’re physically incarcerated or, mentally and emotionally, prisoners of our minds.

What’s your prison? Are fear and self-doubt hijacking your dreams? My thoughts are interrupted by a voice from the facility’s loudspeaker: “Time for the 11:15 headcount!” Time. In prison it’s always about time: headcount, chow, yard and lockdown.

Perhaps it’s also time, in our lives, to break free from the incarceration we’ve created via thoughts, words and actions that don’t honor us, nurture those dependent upon us and add value to the communities we serve. Where’s it time to go before the parole board of your mind and say, “Set me free!”

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Trust is Key"

It was troubling, at least for me, to see the bickering that preceded President Obama’s message to our nation’s school children about the importance of working hard in school, graduating and becoming productive contributors to our society.

I think it exposes a deeper challenge to our nation’s future than improving the achievement scores, graduation rates and career/educational opportunities for our nation’s youth. Without question these challenges are real, but the backlash to the president’s chat with our children also, in my opinion, exposes something equally dangerous: the lack of trust prevalent in America today.

And trust me, when trust goes out the window, there is little hope anything worthwhile can be accomplished. Think about it, what’s usually the first thing that dooms a relationship? Somebody acts in a way that violates the trust that is the very essence of intimacy, whether romantic, professional or societal. Once trust erodes, fear and doubt permeates the foundation. It is weakened, vulnerable to collapse. What good comes from operating from fear and doubt? Little, if any, I would suggest.

Trust is the key. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking success in a marriage, business, athletic team or the leader of the free world encouraging children to realize the importance and responsibility of education.

In each and every Run to Daylight presentation, as the Comeback Coach, I encourage others to focus on three things that help trust thrive. After all, when talking about trust, we can only control ourselves, right? I can’t do a darn thing – except being trustworthy myself - that will make you more trustworthy, right? It starts and ends with me – and you, and everybody else. The three traits are – daily - do only things that honor you, nurture those dependent upon you and add value to the communities you serve.

That’s being trustworthy, defined as “worthy of trust, reliable.” Where might it be time for you to become more trustworthy - at home, work or community? Where is it time to really step forward and be a person of your word? Someone others can trust? Defined as “a firm belief in the reliability or truth of a person or thing?”

When the motives of our president, when encouraging our children about education, are questioned, it speaks volumes about how mistrustful our nation has become. It’s paralyzing progress! Trust is the key. Without it, we’re doomed – at home, work and community - to failure with nobody but ourselves to blame. This week be part of the solution. Be trustworthy at all times.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Curious not Callous"

I’m a huge fan of social networking. It’s an amazing way to connect with others on so many levels: business and personal. I really enjoy reading what others are up to as they “post” information on their personal page.

Recently a long-time colleague from my sportscasting days posted: “I’m so glad my daughter convinced me to go up on the roof with her and watch the Perseid Meteor shower. It was amazing.” The celestial light show, with 100 shooting stars an hour, occurs once a year as the earth passes through a trail of dust and ice particles. It happened in early August this year.

Anyway, the joy and wonderment exuding from this wonderful father and newsman’s posting reminded me of what is discussed frequently during Run to Daylight presentations: the importance of allowing wonderment to win. It’s not easy sometimes with all the demands on our time. It’s so easy to say “no” to something because the benefit does not seem worth the effort.

But, in my opinion, quite often if we make the effort to say “Why not?” pretty cool stuff appears in our world. In my first book, Kids Teach the Darndest Things, I wrote about such an instance: It was several years ago, my daughter was eight or nine, and had just received many gift cards for Christmas. On a Sunday, she wanted to visit a nearby mall to cash in the cards. But it was a Broncos’ Sunday and her old man – me – was determined to park himself on the comfy couch and watch some football. Rachel won that debate.

So we head off to the mall, daughter quite excited, Dad bummed out. We hit almost every store in the place that caters to kids. On the verge of a meltdown – I’ve run three marathons but shopping for more than a few minutes is torture! – we entered the final store. I sat in a chair, whining to anyone within earshot, about having to miss the Broncos game for this!

Finally, my daughter announces, “Dad, it’s time to go.” We head toward the back of the store to pay when my mood shifted dramatically. The clerk was folding a t-shirt Rachie had purchased. Across the front of the shirt in huge letters it proclaimed, “Daddy’s Little Girl.”

This week, keep a curious, not callous, attitude toward life. Say yes when everything inside of you is screaming no. Beautiful experiences might be right around the corner, or up on the roof, to remind you how cool life can be.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Last Chance Harvey's Lesson"

It was another one of those perfect Friday evenings: take-out barbecue, snuggling with my darling girlfriend and watching a movie. We enjoyed "Last Chance Harvey" starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson.

The story is a message of redemption, defined as “to make up for deficiencies or inadequacies.” In this case, it was Harvey’s – played by Hoffman – deficiencies and inadequacies as a father that led to many painful experiences, culminating when his daughter gets married. Add some unfortunate news professionally, and it was not a good time in Harvey’s life. But then a series of serendipitous events occur and…you gotta watch the flick to learn the rest!

What happens at the end is an excellent example of the Comeback Coach’s message during Run to Daylight presentations, when talking about effectively dealing with change and adversity: “Quite often, once the dust settles and the pain subsides we realize change bring things into our lives worth keeping no matter what.”

For me, it’s been head injury, divorces, corporate restructuring that, unexpectedly, forced me to adjust on the fly and head in another direction. In retrospect, each was quite painful at the time, but “once the dust settled and the pain subsided” each also created space in my life professionally and personally for wonderful blessings to appear.

In the film, the same thing happens to Harvey. Just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse, life changed dramatically in a good way. The point is this: Don’t live in the past! No doubt, there are challenges in your life right now. They might be physical, emotional and/or financial. Where they originate really doesn’t matter. The important question is, “What are you going to do about it?”

Harvey, with a big assist from a friend played by Emma Thompson, was able to let go of the past. He was able to remember: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow’s but a mystery, today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” Whatya’ say we take advantage of the present? Right here, right now, let’s open up that space of possibility that lies within each of us to shift from what “is” to what “could be.”

"Last Chance Harvey" is a movie, fictitious. But the film’s message resonates with truth about a key to success in life: maintaining a belief, despite what presently exists, that, when you least expect it – if you keep trying and don’t give up - life’s lemons can be transformed into – the heck with lemonade - sweet and savory margaritas.

Monday, August 31, 2009

"Trust the Vibration"

When raising teenagers, moments of true “connection” can be as elusive as a good stock tip. However, occasionally, when Jupiter aligns with Mars, peace guides the planets and parents and hormone-raged offspring have meaningful dialogue.

That happened recently for my seventh-grade daughter and I. Over dinner at our favorite neighborhood bistro my beautiful darling blurts out: “Dad, I really believe in karma. You know, that stuff you’re always talking about. What you throw out there comes bouncing back at you.”

I almost dropped my fork, choked on my wine and fell from my chair. Had there been an epiphany? “Ya know sweetie, “ I suggested after gathering my wits. “I hope you never forget what you just said, because it can be a powerful, and productive, force in your life if you allow it.”

Then my mind jumped to a moment where what I “threw out there” – fear - changed my life forever. I shared it with my daughter.

It was my senior year in high school. Many schools were recruiting me to play football and baseball. No school more than the University of Arizona. It was a perfect setting for me. But I was a little fearful of moving far away from my home, Kansas City. I also had a high school girlfriend attending Mizzou, which also offered me a scholarship. But the Tigers’ recruitment was lukewarm. Arizona’s was earnest and intense. Operating too much from fear – far from home and honey – I choose Missouri. A few days later, a poke to the eye in a high-school basketball game led to crashing to the floor, fracturing my skull and other head injuries. My competitive athletic career was over.

“Dad, you were projecting fear and look what happened!” Honored to even be having a conversation like this I acknowledged. “You’re right. I guess the lesson here is to trust your intuition. Emerson calls it the ‘vibration of the iron string within.’ When you don’t, it usually comes back to bite you in the butt.”

Whenever presenting Run Daylight I encourage others to “not let fear get in the way of your dreams, instead remember courage is the soul of your dreams.”

This week, at home, work and community, put fear aside and allow wonderment to win, okay? There are no guarantees. I understand that. However operating from fear rarely works unless you’re running for your life. It tends to backfire when you’re running from a life intuition is calling you to explore.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Just a Little RESPECT"

Perhaps it’s because I’m more engaged in the process, but does it seem early to anybody else that political candidates are already actively campaigning for an election 15 months away?

Anyway, it’s happening right now. Small meetings but it’s starting. That has led the Comeback Coach to events from each side of the spectrum – I can’t help it, it’s my innate curiosity and 25-year journalism career – and some thoughts about what I’ve seen.

First, let it be said that in each and every Run to Daylight presentation the Comeback Coach talks about “teamwork being the key to success.” That we must realize “we’re not alone and that we need each other.” That it’s “amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit.”

Former CU Coach Bill McCartney always used to say, and it’s the truth: “We gotta be willing to come charging out of the foxhole together, united, one heart beat.”

Well, you can imagine, as I have spoken, listened and inquired at these various events, the opinions on everything under the sun tend to vary as much as the stock market or my teenage daughter’s mood. There are lots of opinions out there about what needs to be done concerning America’s major issues. At times as you hear someone else’s thoughts, you go, “My goodness, can we really be diametrically opposed concerning the best solution to what ails us?”

It’s scary sometimes. That’s why it’s so refreshing to meet people along this journey who talk about the common good. Who talk about finding solutions that will honor us, nurture those dependent upon us and add value to the communities we serve. There’s a spirit of cooperation and a willingness to put fear and self doubt aside and “go for it” in being limited only by imagination, not fear, in creating productive choices to the challenges we face.

I like talking to those kinds of people. They seek solutions rooted in respect – used as a statement, not a word. RESPECT being an acronym for: R-easonable E-xpectations S-park P-roductive E-xperiences C-reating T-ranquility.

You know what? Reasonable expectations spark productive experiences creating tranquility in many areas other than politics. It’s a good strategy wherever you roam – home, work or community.

This week, let’s take a cue from Aretha Franklin. 40 years ago she became a superstar when singing about respect. Let’s expand that word into a statement and see if reasonable expectations spark productive experiences creating tranquility.

Wouldn’t that be nice.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Time to Set Sail"

On a recent vacation to beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, I was on an early morning scouting mission with my partner, third-grader-to-be Shannon Schmitt. She’s the daughter of dear friends – like a niece to me – and we were first to awaken and were “checking out” where the gym, coffee shop, pool, game room and other “stuff” was located at the resort where our families spent the weekend.

After completing our reconnaissance mission, as we neared our villa where everybody else was still sleeping, I jokingly said to this darling girl: “It was like we were advance scouts sent to explore the new world, like Christopher Columbus.” With that, she quickly broke into, what kids her age have learned in studying that famous voyage, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

By now we were just steps from our villa’s back porch. Shannon’s mother was standing there, wondering where in the heck we had been – I forgot to check in with the mother hen before departing! After apologizing, my thoughts quickly went back to Shannon’s perfect recital of the poem about Columbus’ journey and the guts he displayed in sailing off into the history books.

Whenever presenting Run to Daylight, as the Comeback Coach, I encourage others to not allow fear and self doubt get in the way of their dreams and goals. I challenge them to put fear and self doubt aside and allow wonderment and courage to win.”

Well, Columbus certainly walked that talk didn’t he? At the time, many Europeans called him crazy. The world was flat, the journey doomed for failure. Columbus didn’t listen to the negatoids, instead was inspired by the positrons saying, “You can do this!”

My gosh, if Columbus could muster the courage to sail off into the unknown, surely we can tap into the same power to begin, say, that long-delayed exercise program? Maybe it’s a quit smoking campaign or addressing the elephant sitting in the middle of the room concerning our important relationships – personal and professional – can’t we?

This week, let’s remember this about change and the guts required to make it happen: “be wary of longing for someone you once were when life is calling you to somebody you’ve never been.”

Where’s it time to depart the safe, but perhaps unhealthy and unproductive harbor, and sail toward the great unknown that is the undiscovered potential that lies within you to become superior to your former self at home, work or community?

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Known 4, What?"

Despite being a life-long athlete and a sportscaster for more than two decades, I rarely discuss sports during the weekly Pep Talk. But there is an exception to every rule, right? Brett Favre has finally retired, for good, I think. Now it’s time to tell a story about the super guy within the great player.

Denver Broncos fans will never forget Super Bowl XXXII, played in San Diego. On January 25, 1998, the John Elway-led Broncos defeated Green Bay 31-24 for the Broncos’ first-ever world championship. Remember, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen proclaiming, “This one’s for John!”

Well, the first week of the two-week break between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, I was dispatched to Green Bay, Wisconsin to give fans in the Denver television market a flavor of the Packers, the city of Green Bay and the incredibly faithful Packer fans.

I was an outsider thrust into the Packers’ world. Nobody rolled out the welcome mat more than Favre. Local sports media usually develop a decent bond with the “name” players because they spend so much time together. But when an out-of-town journalist shows up, it can be tough since there’s no history and there’s a level of inherent mistrust about the media. Not for Brett Lorenzo Favre, a guy’s guy from Mississippi.

In each and every Run to Daylight presentation, the Comeback Coach talks about “teamwork being the key to success.” That we need to reach out and help one another and truly believe - not just give lip service to - “one good deed leads to another.”

The Green Bay Packers starting quarterback went out of his way to help me, an out-of-town sportsguy, find good stories: he always was available; made suggestions about other players to interview; had recommendations for good restaurants in town. He went out of his way to be friendly. He didn’t have to.

The record book shows an incredibly durable quarterback who played 18 seasons, threw 464 touchdown passes and connected with receivers for more than 65,000 passing yards, the latter two, NFL career records.

But I won’t remember Favre – who wore #4 throughout his career – for his performance on the field. I will remember his incredible kindness off of it. Ya know, we all have a label, we’re known “as” something: quarterback, motivational speaker, housewife, businessman – whatever. But what are we known “for?”

This week, be known “4” kindness and generosity. Trust me, others will remember those wonderful traits about you long after memory, of your other accomplishments, has faded with time and memory.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"Let Freedom Ring"

Our nation recently celebrated its 233rd birthday and I had the pleasure of spending America’s birthday in Vail, Colorado with my darling girlfriend and one of her best gal pals, Susie.

It was a wonderful experience that included viewing a parade through the village, a fantastic dinner and some late night fun at one of the town’s most popular honkeytonks. But without question the highlight of the birthday party was a patriotic concert at the Gerald Ford Amphitheatre.

Thanks to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s great talents, uplifting sound and masterful director the packed throng of more than 2,500 waved American flags, sang, cried and saluted our country’s veterans for their service in preserving our freedoms. If you haven’t experienced this annual concert, put it on your bucket list – you will not regret it.

As the Comeback Coach, in each and every Run to Daylight presentation I encourage audience members to realize the importance of putting fear and self doubt aside and allow courage and wonderment to win. It’s a real key to running to daylight and playing like a champion at home, work and community.

As I sat there with tears streaming down my check as the orchestra played a melody of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard fight songs, my mind jumped back to that moment 233 years ago when some very brave people put fear and self doubt aside and allowed courage and wonderment to win in pronouncing to Great Britain, “We are declaring our independence from you.” That took some guts.

And then my brain jumped to this: where in our personal lives might it be time to “declare independence” from thoughts, words or actions that have held us back from living the life we imagine? Where might it be time to set yourself free from the shackles of poor eating habits, too much drinking, a negative attitude toward work, an unhealthy relationship, an ambivalent attitude toward a good relationship?

13 colonies picked July 4, 1776 to declare independence from the tyranny of the British Empire. Perhaps the most famous sentence in that proclamation is the second. There the writers conclude their thoughts about rights, the most important being “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

This week, let’s pick a date and “declare independence” from anything that doesn’t honor us, nurture those dependent upon us or add value to the communities we serve. It will be a huge first step in allowing freedom to ring in our personal pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Be A Difference Maker"

It happened often in the three-plus years I co-hosted Colorado and Company. Denise Plante and I would wrap up an interview with a guest and the encounter inspires me to write quick and furious notes. “You’re going to turn that into a Pep Talk aren’t you?” she would offer. My beautiful, talented and fun partner knows me well.

The latest inspiration comes from author Warren St. John who appeared on the show earlier this year while wrapping up a national tour surrounding his latest book, Outcasts United. The book chronicles a Georgia town that has become a melting pot of refugees from war-ravaged places on earth: Sudan, Kosovo, Liberia and Afghanistan. The town of Clarkston was changing rapidly. It wasn’t easy for anybody - long-time residents or freshly arrived - to make the transition. Change is tough.

In each and every Run to Daylight presentation, the Comeback Coach encourages other to keep a healthy attitude toward those changes; whether expected or not. I’m not saying you have to like it, just keep healthy attitude toward it and become a student, not a victim, of the experience.

Challenging change in this small southern town of 7,000 inspired a woman to act. She decided organizing a soccer team would be a healthy and productive way to bring this “melting” pot together in ways that honored and nurtured all and added value to the community. It worked. “It was a perfect example of the power of mutual self interests,” St. Johns told us. He then added, “It also powerfully reminded me that one person can make a difference.”

Ain’t that the truth? One person – you, or me – can make a difference! Never underestimate the power and potential that lies within each and every one of us to significantly alter the course of history within our families, neighborhoods, workplaces or communities! But here’s the challenge: it takes a lot of guts to stick your neck out and proclaim you can be the catalyst. Some will tell you it won’t work; you’re crazy; you’re so na├»ve – don’t believe them. Believe in yourself and your dream of being a difference maker.

I wrote down something else from the interview with St. John. He also mentioned, during his national book tour, discovering many similar inspirational stories. “There’s lots of good stuff going on in our country,” he said. This week, promise yourself to never grow weary of doing “good stuff” because you will reap the harvest if you just don’t give up.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"No Shortcuts"

I was early for an overdue meeting with a friend as I walked into a south Denver restaurant. “There will be a dapperly dressed gentlemen who looks like a silver fox walk in here shortly,” I informed the friendly waitress. “Tell him I’m in the back, okay?”

The friend is Arthur McDermott. He’s one of those “positron” kinda people you just like to hang around with. He’s a successful developer, doting grandpa, loving husband and cares about community – a good man. After he arrived at the restaurant, we dive right into discussing a Comeback Coach project “Pep Talk Partners” that could really use his involvement. As we discuss the project’s merits, he chimes in, “What you’re talking about sounds like the stuff you used to talk about when running Camp Fire USA.”

That takes my brain to Camp Fire USA’s founder Luther Gulick. What a guy he was. Back in 1910, he observed young men marching off to summer camp opportunities and wondered, “What the heck are we doing for the girls?” So Gulick and his wife started Camp Fire Girls – today coeducational and Camp Fire USA – to help girls develop skills for work outside the home and to promote physical fitness. A century ago, few believed learning professional skills or exercising was important for girls. Gulick thought otherwise.

As the Comeback Coach, when presenting Run to Daylight, I often talk about Gulick. Born in Hawaii in 1865, he was a real visionary who also played a role in the development of the YMCA, Boy Scouts and basketball. Gulick, in founding the country’s oldest non-sectarian youth development organization, constantly stressed three qualities he felt were vital to a healthy and productive life: hard work, healthy choices and respect - for self, others and community.

Can you imagine what our world would look like if each of us - today, tomorrow and all this week - adopted that terrific trio as our motto? What would our world look like? We don’t have any guarantees, but I like the odds it would look pretty good, don’t you?

A man I respect greatly, Arthur McDermott, reminded me of another man I respect greatly, Luther Gulick. It has inspired me to encourage you to work hard, make healthy choices and show a little respect for self, others and community.

Simple, not easy, I realize that. When the temptations hit this week to deviate from the game plan, try and remember this: There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Hang On"

It’s Sunday but thanks to new laws in Colorado, I’m standing in line at the liquor store waiting to pay for a cold six-pack of beer. The lady in front of me turns and says, “Happy Father’s Day.”

I responded, “Hey thanks, I heard that from you before either one of my kids.” She laughed and then said one more thing before departing: “It’s Father’s Day for me too. I raise three kids on my own and play mom and dad.”

Her matter-of-fact statement really got me to thinking as I jumped in the car and departed for a relaxing afternoon of watching, with my neighbor buddy, golf and baseball on television. Today, there are too many women in our country who, because men have decided parenting is not a priority, face the challenge of trying to raise kids on their own. There are also men in our country who are raising kids on their own because women have decided parenting is not a priority. I know that, but there’s not nearly as many.

As the Comeback Coach, whenever presenting Run to Daylight: Transforming Life’s Lemons into Margaritas, when talking about effectively handling change, challenge and adversity, I encourage others to not become a victim of circumstance, instead become a student of experience. I also encourage others experiencing unwanted and unexpected change – not too many people say, I’m wanna be a single parent – to be wary of longing for someone you once were – married – when life is calling you to somebody you’ve never been – performing mom and dad duty.

It’s not easy and requires tremendous sacrifice. But don’t feel like you’re alone. There are many others in the same boat and there are resources available to help. In Denver, one resource for mothers raising families on their own is The WilLiv Center, www.thewillivcenter.org. This Friday, I will be presenting Run to Daylight at a fundraiser for the organization. I hope you might be able to join us for a night of inspiration, entertainment and education.

Often in life, despite our best efforts, we find ourselves in situations we detest. We’re in spots that make trapped in a pit with a bunch of rattlesnakes far more appealing. We’ve all been there. So, the question becomes, what the heck are we gonna do about it?

This week, when the going gets tough and you want to quit, remember this profound Norwegian proverb: A hero is one who knows how to hang on one minute longer

Monday, July 6, 2009

"A New Frontier"

It was a late Friday afternoon. I’m watching the rain-plagued 2009 U.S. Open golf tournament from Long Island, New York. Heading into a break, the producer calls for a shot of the nearby New York City skyline.

It makes me think of my son. He just wrapped up a successful first year at New York University. I think he’s a pretty cool dude. 19 years old, studying film and determined to become the next great producer or director. How many 19 years know exactly what they want? Did you?

I certainly didn’t. However, at 17 I did. I dreamed of becoming a professional athlete. But then a poke to the eye, a crash to the floor and a resulting severe head injury ended those dreams. At 19, I was bumbling through college wondering, “Who am I?”

It’s a question I face today, “Who am I?” The good news, I believe with all my heart and soul, I know the answer. It’s time for the Comeback Coach to “saddle up the horses, he’s got a trail to blaze.”

Whenever presenting Run to Daylight, much time is spent sharing how there are moments in life, when opportunity comes a knockin’, and we must put fear and self doubt aside, and go for it – run to daylight. That’s where I’m at right now.

I am no longer the co-host of Colorado and Company. I will continue to present Pep Talks each Monday and occasionally appear as host. But teaming with my beloved partner in crime Denise Plante is over. It’s not easy walking away from something I cherish dearly. But just like in Texas Hold Em poker, it’s time for yours truly to be “all in” in helping others effectively deal with change, challenge and adversity in transforming life’s lemons into margaritas.

Where might it be time in your life to do the same? To be “all in” in saddling up your horse because you gotta new trail to blaze? It can be scary, you bet. But don’t let fear get in the way of your dreams, instead remember courage is the soul of your dreams.

Try to remember this: “Be wary of longing for someone you once were when life is calling your to somebody you’ve never been.” Is life calling you - like it’s calling me - to a new frontier? If so, join me in making a commitment to being like turtles. Yea, like turtles, which don’t make any progress until they stick their necks out!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Thinking of my Old Man"

It’s Father’s Day 2009 and let’s see: awakened next to my sexy girl friend, read, worked out, had an unbelievable conversation with my weekend Pep Talk Partner, wrote, hit golf balls with my neighbor, watched U.S. Open golf, Rockies baseball, sipped a beer and – thought of my father.

For the record, at the time of this writing, 4:25PM Mountain time on the 100th celebration of Dad’s special day – where’s the big celebration? – neither child has called. I try not to take it personally.

But that’s not the point of this Pep Talk. First, I desire on each future Father’s Day – until I fail to proceed - to write my father a note. I hope that wherever he is, since passing two years ago, the incredible guy is looking down and saying, “job well done.” Writing my old man a letter and sharing that I’m thinking of him, that’s a good idea. Hold me to that, will ya, maybe do the same?

And now, I want you to consider this: “What do you posses, that you truly value and are willing to share with others? Venues don’t matter. It could at home, work or community. What would it be, your time, talents, treasures or experiences? One, perhaps a couple, maybe even all?

For me, it ended up being something I possess, value very much and, by fate, was honored to share with the before-mentioned neighbor: my father’s golf clubs.

My buddy has been way too busy as a father and businessman for the past 15 years and has played little golf. He’s talented but his game’s been neglected, the equipment’s from the Stone Age and his confidence sucks. On Father’s Day he tried out Dad’s clubs – which I inherited - and have been waiting for a worthy recipient. My “brother from another mother” easily qualifies.

My father would be touched Lou Lazo is swinging his clubs. He’d be also be proud that I have – in thinking about my old man – experienced one of those “aha” moments that Emerson would call, “the vibration of the iron string within.”

Giving my father’s cherished golf clubs to a buddy needing new sticks would be EXACTLY what my old man would have done. He possessed – despite life’s many challenges - a positive spirit others valued and he naturally shared. My old man was a people guy. Guess what? Not all of us are, but we can all possess honorable traits, value them and be willing to share with others, right? Possess. Value. Share.

Dad, hey buddy, Happy belated Father’s Day. I miss ya but thanks for the lesson. I hope in sharing its valuable lesson it helps somebody else. I know you would like that very much.

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Burn the Bridges"

One wonderful byproduct of co-hosting a television show that occasionally features authors is you receive lots of free books. Recently a Colorado and Company guest handed me an updated copy of Napoleon Hill’s classic, Think and Grow Rich. I decided to re-read it. First released in 1937, millions upon millions of copies have been sold – I can only wish the same for Lemons into Margaritas!

To refresh your memory, Hill worked for steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie and was commissioned to interview more than 500 millionaires, including Edison, Ford and Rockefeller, to find a success formula the average person could utilize.

Born into poverty in Virginia, Hill later became an advisor to Carnegie, and together, they formulated a philosophy of success, drawing on the thoughts and experience of a multitude of rags-to-riches tycoons. The process took more than 20 years.

As the Comeback Coach, I’m always encouraging others to “be limited only by imagination, not fear, in creating productive choices to the challenges we face.” That is basically one of the core philosophies of the book. We have to have the guts to “go for it, run to daylight and play like a champion” in the game of effectively dealing with change, challenge and adversity.

Allowing courage to overcome fear takes tremendous DESIRE. We must be willing to take the risk, to reap the reward. We must be willing to “burn any bridges” of retreat offering an escape route. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to march forward, destroying any exit allowing you to fall back into old and unproductive habits? Despite knowing those habits hamper your ability to achieve dreams and goals, do you find the fear of the future – the unknown – has you wanting to duck and run?

Burn the bridges and keep marching. Your trek might concern an issue at home, work or community. It doesn’t matter. Stay focused on three things: thoughts, words and actions that honor you; nurture those dependent upon you and add value to the communities you serve.

You commit to that terrific trio and guess what? There will be no reason to retreat! Your actions and attitude will create bridges advancing you even further down the road. The wisdom from a book written 72 years ago still resonates today. There are sometimes in life when retreat is not an option. We must refuse surrender to fear, move forward and become superior to our former selves. Why not right here, right now?

Monday, June 15, 2009

"A Father's Day Promise"

It was Father’s Day 2007 and it gave me a sense of empowerment. “Rachie,” I suggest to my then ten-year-old daughter. “Let’s ride our bikes down to Starbucks. You can’t say no today, it’s my special day!” Without hesitation, a smile beamed across her face. “That sounds like fun Dad, lets go.”

Once we arrived, I was so impressed that my daughter was being, as the Comeback Coach likes to say, “limited only by her imagination, not fear, in creating productive choices to the challenges she faced.” Her challenge was fighting boredom while her father – on his special day – talked with friends about the film, “Once.” It had been a big hit at that year’s Sundance Festival. “It’s amazing how these people co-exist with and tolerate one another,” said one critic of the story of Irish street musicians who tell their story through song. “We don’t do that very well in America.”

For whatever reason that really resonated within me, “What can we do to change that?” I asked. “We can’t change society,” she quickly responded. “But we can change our little corner of the world.”

Amen to that. However, I would suggest that in working in our “little corners of the world” we indeed CAN change society. It’s what I talk about during Run to Daylight presentations that “teamwork is the key to success.” We can rally with like-minded people in ways that honor us, nurture those dependent upon us and add value to the communities we serve, right? Rotarians call that, “service before self.”

Change has to start somewhere, right? I’m thinkin’ about that as we ride our bikes home. Then it hits me between the eyes like a lightning bolt: The best Father’s Day present I could ever imagine? Someday my kids will say, “Ya know what, my old man always tried to make sure his actions about “sacrifice of self for others” spoke far louder than his words about the subject.”

Kids, I promise to ALWAYS try my best to realize the benefit of that belief. I also hope you, especially fathers, give that philosophy a shot this week. Let’s all do our best to rise in unison for the common good. Pick your favorite cause and be part of the team trying to run to daylight and play like champions in the game of making a positive difference at home, work or community.

While there is certainly no guarantee of success, I like the odds we could get in Vegas.

Monday, June 8, 2009

"The Expectant Father"

I’m in my office Sunday afternoon, listening to motivational speaker Earl Nightengale – he’s talking about success – and finishing cliff notes for a future Pep Talk about connecting wonderful memories with current events, when the phone rings. It’s my buddy Scott Berger.

“Hey man, what are you doing? He asked. “Waiting for Rachel to tell me what she wants for dinner,” I respond. He proudly shoots back, “I’m walking out of Whole Foods with lots of groceries to take home to Jamie, my wonderful and pregnant wife.”

This will be their first child and he can’t wait for fatherhood – does he really know what he’s getting into? - and its responsibilities. He can’t wait to love, mentor and discipline the next generation of his family and our nation.

I think he’ll be quite successful. He’s the type of guy former Colorado Buffaloes’ head coach Bill McCartney calls “fox hole kinda guys.” You can trust their word, effort and commitment. Good things.

When presenting Run to Daylight much time is spent talking about “teamwork being the key to success.” The Comeback Coach loves to talk about the 1989 CU “One Heart Beat” team. That unit kept a “healthy attitude toward change, worked well together and had the courage to put fear aside and went for it – ran to daylight and played like a champion.”

This expectant father, caring for his growing family, would have been welcomed on that Buffs’ team which ran the regular season table before losing to Notre Dame in the national-championship-matchup 1990 Orange Bowl Game.

Berger characterizes the “fox-hole” kinda person necessary to build great teams. And you know what, those “fox hole” attributes apply to sports and other important teams at home, work and community. Trust me, it’s far more productive to work united not divided.

This Centennial State transplant hails from Baltimore, is walking his talk and excited about fatherhood. He’s excited about a new challenge and phase of life that is unlike any other. Whether you’ve had children or not, most would agree, raising kids is not easy. It will test him. He’s saying, “I’m ready to serve.”

This week, are you ready to serve? In ways that honor you, nurture those dependent upon you and add value to the communities you serve? It worked for the Buffs, is working for this expectant father and will work for us. Unity is not easy, there are no shortcuts, but the reward is worth the effort.

Monday, June 1, 2009

"Allow Wonderment to Win"

I was recently speaking to a real estate Mastermind group. The discussion turned to what I feel is the biggest challenge we face on a daily basis: allowing courage and wonderment to win the battle with fear and self-doubt. Everyone in the crowd admitted, as we grow older and life continues to surprise and bruise us, how difficult it becomes to carry that mantra forward.

Real estate professionals face brutal market conditions right now. But they’re not alone. Our nation’s economic challenges have most Americans feeling battered and fearful. So what can we do about it?

In each and every Run to Daylight presentation the Comeback Coach encourages others to be limited only by imagination, not fear, in creating productive choices to the challenges we face. I love to quote Shakespeare, who 400 years ago said: “Our doubts are traitors that make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

Fear of job loss, foreclosure and bankruptcy are real and present dangers given the current economic woes. What to do?

I have an idea. We can take a cue from a fifth-grade girl who recently reminded me of an effective way of dealing with change, challenge and adversity. This young lady was on our Good Shepherd Grizzlies volleyball team. She was also struggling with her serve. Determined to improve she called the coach – me – and asked if I would open the gym on a weekend afternoon so she could practice. She also, with her own allowance money, purchased a volleyball to practice serving at home.

She was determined to become superior to her former self. That determination paid off later in the season. The Grizzlies, just two points from elimination in the post-season tournament, turned to this young woman to serve. She executed perfectly, running off nine straight points in a come-from-behind victory. The Grizzlies would go on to win the consolation championship. It would have never happened without this young lady’s courage to transform adversity into her – and our – ally.

There’s a lesson in this for each of us. We all face challenges. It might be the economy, a relationship or our health. The venues change, but the strategy to deal with the challenge does not: take a cue from a fifth-grader and promise yourself this: refuse to become a victim of your circumstance, instead become of student of the experience.

It takes putting fear and self doubt aside and allowing wonderment to win!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"The Terrific Trio"

I really enjoy Saturday afternoons for a nap, catching up with my neighbor and writing Pep Talks. Anyway, in the “watch some sports and have a beer with my buddy” portion of the day, conversation sparked by an early-season Rockies and Dodgers game at sunny Chavez Ravine from Spring-storm-buried Denver, jumps to football. It jumps to something I witnessed long ago during my sportscasting days.

I was in Lake Tahoe, Nevada covering the annual celebrity golf tournament held beside that incredible body of water. I was there that year, the mid’ 90’s, because local stars like Broncos quarterback John Elway, head coach Mike Shanahan and then University of Colorado head football coach Rick Neuheisel were playing, and trust me, knowing the trio pretty well, competing.

But this Pep Talk’s not about Elway, Shanahan and Neuheisel. It’s about Jerry Rice.

What I’ll never forget from the weekend was a Saturday evening. I had finished writing a piece that would air on KCNC-TV’s late evening newscast. So, I’m killing time while my photojournalist partner put the final editing touches on the story. I’m on the deck of a beautiful resort hotel, gazing at the natural beauty around me and listening to the fun inside. Suddenly my attention diverts to the golf practice range. In the fading light there’s a solo figure out there pounding golf balls. It was Jerry Rice and I witnessed the future Hall of Fame wide receiver hit at least 200 shots – while all his buddies were inside having a good time.

He was just learning the game and is, as the Comeback Coach loves to talk about, “determined to become superior to his former self” in the game of golf. Perhaps the greatest receiver in NFL history, Rice is someone who I believe has three traits that power his success, on and off the field: He believes in his talent, works well with others and has refused to allow fear and self doubt hijack his dreams of running to daylight and playing like a champion in whatever endeavor he chooses.

We obviously don’t, or didn’t, have Jerry Rice’s physical talents, but we can match his mental approach. What has made him a great success in life – faith, unity and sacrifice - is available for us too.

It’s Memorial Day weekend. Faith, unity and sacrifice certainly would describe, and honor, the men and women who have done just that for our freedoms. Living a life based upon that terrific trio of traits ain’t easy. It might cost you a little but gosh, I sure like your chances of it meaning a lot in living the life you imagine, everywhere. Just ask Jerry Rice.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Resist Zero Gravity"

While recently flying to and from Tampa, Florida for a speaking engagement, I read “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowing Day.” It’s a delightful book where author Mark Batterson expresses views about many things, including adversity.

The Oxford American dictionary defines the word as: misfortune, trouble. That’s it. While it is simple to define the word, we know from personal experiences, misfortune and trouble can appear in many different forms: a marriage or relationship falls apart; a job is lost because of economic conditions or poor performance; a loved one’s, perhaps your own, health is jeopardized because of illness or injury.

Three examples of twists and turns arriving – unexpected and unwanted – in our lives that must be dealt with. They deliver adversity forcing us to change direction and chart a different course.

In each and every Run to Daylight presentation, the Comeback Coach talks about change and the need to keep a healthy attitude toward it. It’s not that we have to LIKE the change, but we must keep a healthy attitude toward it. We must be determined not to become a victim of the circumstance bringing misfortune and trouble into our lives, instead becoming a student of the experience. We learn from, and become better, because of it.

Batterson, in talking about the same premise, offers an analogy of astronauts and what they face when returning from space. While in orbit these men and women operate in zero gravity – there is no resistance. That’s not good for the human body. Long-term exposure to zero gravity leads to loss of muscle mass, bone density and accelerates heart rates to dangerous levels. In other words, resistance, synonymous with adversity, is a necessary component of life. Another analogy he used was good too. It’s rare for someone to break a bone in the same place because that bone grows back STRONGER after the misfortune or trouble that led to the initial break.

Could we apply the same logic to our lives? We all have misfortune and trouble – that’s life. Sure, we often think we’d love to experience life without any problems, zero gravity. But if we realize the opportunities adversity presents to help us grow stronger, perhaps we could face change, and its challenges, with a different attitude?

It’s not easy. But the effort to learn from, not become a victim of, adversity will help us run to daylight and play like a champion, in the game of life. Promise.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"Catch the Wind"

Do you ever find yourself at that spot in life where you have a theme song? A song you listen to over and over again? It’s a tune that stirs something within invoking joy, sadness or inspiration? Ever been there?

Earlier this year, I had one of those moments surrounding the song “Catch the Wind.” I would listen to it constantly while in the car, still do. Sung by Irish legend Donovan, the 1965 ballad describes the desire to “catch the wind” in pursuit of dreams and goals.

The song makes me think of my late father who passed away two years ago this week. I kept finding myself wishing I could “catch the wind” and go find him, wherever he is, and play some golf with him.

I loved playing golf with my old man. One of the luckiest hackers in history, the father of four, on the golf course, was always turning a lemon of a hole into a margarita. To say he was a good scrambler is an understatement. I miss losing money to him.

As the Comeback Coach it’s my passion to encourage others to effectively deal with change, challenge and adversity; to challenge others, despite obstacles present, to run to daylight and play like a champion in the game of life.

Since my father’s death, I’ve realized what an influential mentor he was in me acquiring those beliefs: he had plenty of adversity throughout life but somehow was always able to rise above – and build upon - the challenges before cancer ended his journey May 12, 2007.

When the Comeback Coach encourages others to, in their thoughts, words and action focus ONLY on things that honor you, nurture those dependent upon you and add value to the communities you serve, it has dawned on me where I got that rallying cry: my father lived it right before my eyes.

I have been blessed with many wonderful mentors, none greater than my father. And you know what? Each of us has that mentoring capability within ourselves. Yes we do. It might be your children, grandchildren, friend, co-worker, a child you’re mentoring, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how we live our lives. Trust me, others are watching and will be influenced by your thoughts, words and actions.

Live honorably. Who knows, it might inspire someone to “Catch the Wind” and chase healthy and productive dreams and goals. Thanks Dad, you’re gone but your life, and how you lived it, continues to inspire me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Extend or Unclench"

It’s been interesting to observe discussions, pro and con, to President Barack Obama’s recent overture toward Cuba after almost half of century of strife with our Caribbean neighbor. This is not to say the overture is right or wrong, but it reminds me of our 44th president’s inaugural address. When speaking to our country’s adversaries, he said: “We will extend a hand, if you unclench your fist.”

I found that to be the most profound statement America’s first bi-racial president made during that historic moment in our nation’s capitol. It struck me as powerful because of, at least in my opinion, what it represents: action from each opponent in trying to find common ground.

It’s one of the three core messages the Comeback Coach delivers in each and every Run to Daylight presentation: We have to “hand off” this notion we can go it alone in life, that “teamwork is the key to success.” I believe that’s true whether we’re talking about peace and good will among nations, families, employees or citizens of a community.

Quite often we find ourselves on opposite sides of an issue with no apparent solution in sight. That’s when we have to realize that EACH of us must take action. One must extend a hand, the other unclench a fist. We must open up the space of possibility that lies within each and every one of us to shift from whatever is, to what could be, in transforming potential – home, work or community - into prosperity by becoming superior to our former selves.

Where in our lives is there continued strife that will only be solved by deciding to extend a hand while an adversary – spouse, significant other, child, parent, neighbor, co-worker or whomever - decides to unclench a fist? Or vice versa? It takes two to tangle, right? Where might it be time to quit blaming each other and take action to build a bridge, not maintain a barrier, fostering healing, growth and transformation?

Reaching out in this fashion takes tremendous courage. You might have to let go of long-held beliefs, stop the blame game and the other party might reject your offer. They might refuse to unclench their fist.

But guess what? They might welcome the attempt with open arms! This week, take inventory and find somewhere in your life where it is finally time to extend a hand in the hopes a long-time adversary will unclench their fist.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Focus on Improvement"

I don’t know exactly how this happened, but I ended up coaching my daughter’s middle-school volleyball team. Well, I’m actually co-coaching the team along with Myriah Storrer, a talented and energetic young lady who played high school and junior-college volleyball and knows her stuff.

On the eve of our first practice, I was trying to think of wise words for a group of fifth and sixth-grade girls who comprise the Good Shepherd Grizzlies junior varsity team. At this age, the focus is having fun. But next year the older girls move to the varsity level where things become more competitive and the better players play more, lesser skilled players play less. It becomes more a microcosm of life.

It struck me quickly that, perhaps, an effective message would be the Comeback Coach’s challenge to those experiencing a “Run to Daylight” workshop. Toward the end of the presentation participants are encouraged to realize “there’s nothing noble in being superior to somebody else, true nobility lies in becoming superior to our former selves.”

In other words, don’t worry whether or not you’re “better” than somebody else. Focus on improving your own skills. That’s a good message for each of us because it’s true whether we’re talking about improving our volleyball skills; our relationship skills; our workplace skills; our fitness skills – whatever, right?

The key is stay focused on improvement. Where could that apply to you, right now? Where could you begin the process of self improvement in ways that honor you, nurture those dependent upon you and add value to the communities you serve?

Ironically, this rookie coach learned in the season’s first game the importance of becoming “superior to his former self.” The Grizzlies had split two games against a good opponent and were huddled in preparation for the decisive third game. I goofed and mentioned the word “winning” in a brief pep talk to the team. I changed the focus from becoming “superior to our former selves” to “winning” and, reflecting, I think that threw them off a bit in the hard-fought third game we lost 25-23.

This week, take the time to reflect on areas of your life where you can become “superior to your former self.” Regardless of the area the self-improvement might reside, don’t worry about “winning” the contest. Instead focus on what you can control – becoming superior to your former self. In doing so, the outcome will always be good whether you win or not.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Heart and Soul"

I often like to say, and too often others agree: “Ya know, I’ve been called a lot of things in life, but smart has never been one of them.”

Well, I got smart recently, thanks to my wonderful girlfriend’s insistence, and attended my first Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert. Wow, what a show.

“Is anybody alive here in Denver?” the musical superstar demanded often as the sold-out Pepsi Center rocked to the band’s amazing sound. What blew me away was the enthusiasm the New Jersey native and his team brought to the show. “We’re gonna bring the music and the passion,” the 59-year-old warned the crowd early in the evening. “You gotta bring the noise.”

In each and every Run to Daylight presentation, the Comeback Coach encourages audience members to put fear and self doubt aside in the constant pursuit of our dreams and goals. The point being, true fulfillment in life comes from understanding who we are and what makes us tick. What are you passionate about? Then, it’s critical that we must do our best, despite life’s changes, challenges and adversities, to stay in alignment with those dreams and goals.

It’s not easy. Life throws us many curveballs. We wonder, “How the heck did I end up here?” But refuse to be a victim of circumstance, instead become a student of experience. Learn, adapt and move on.

No doubt, in the creation of Springsteen’s band – it started in a New Jersey house basement on “E” Street - there were challenges. Many, including the Boss himself, might have questioned whether the endeavor would be a success. But determination to focus on courage and wonderment won the battle against fear and self doubt.

Springsteen’s a legendary rock star. We’re not. However, we all have one thing in common: we’re human beings on a journey filled with unexpected and unwanted, twists and turns. The question becomes, “What are we going to do about it?”

Let’s learn from the Boss. Don’t give up on dreams and goals. It won’t be easy and will, at times, require incredible perseverance. But the glory days you’ll experience, as reward for your effort, are worth the sacrifice.

It starts with enthusiasm. Pour heart and soul into your endeavors – at home, work and community. Bring the music and passion, the world will return the noise in ways that honor you, nurture those dependent upon you and add value to the communities you serve.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

“Gulick’s Great Wisdom”

One of the many things I enjoy about hosting Colorado and Company is the wonderful people who appear on the show promoting Colorado’s nonprofit world. This tugs at my heartstrings considering the three years I spent leading Camp Fire USA’s Central Rockies Council.

Recently United Way’s Christine Benero and Volunteers of America’s Dianna Kunz appeared on the show talking about their respective organization’s wonderful partnership and the importance of nonprofit collaboration to better serve our communities.

Whenever I see Kunz, who has served VOA in some capacity for more than 35 years and led since 1988, it always reminds me of Camp Fire. She was a Camp Fire Girl in her younger days, which takes me to that organization’s founder Luther Gulick.

In each and every Run to Daylight presentation, the Comeback Coach encourages others, “be limited only by imagination, not fear, in creating productive choices to the challenges we face.” Luther Gulick certainly walked that talk. Almost 100 years ago, in 1910, while watching young men march off to summer camp opportunities, he wondered, “What are we doing for the girls?”

Camp Fire Girls, now coeducational Camp Fire USA, was born from the creativity of a man who, earlier in his life, played a huge role in the development of the YMCA and the invention of basketball – Gulick was an incredible man.

A wise man who started a youth development organization that prepared young women for opportunities outside the home and promoted physical exercise – few thought either was important for girls back in 1910 - based upon three simple, but often challenging principles. Three principles, that I promise, if you follow on a consistent basis, will create great potential for success at home, work and in community.

Gulick stressed the value of hard work, healthy choices and love for self, others and community. Can you imagine what our homes, workplaces and communities would look like if we stay focused on working hard, making healthy choices and showing a little love and respect for one another? My goodness, if we could do that for one day, what would that day look like?

Hey, go big or go home, right? This week, let’s shoot for seven straight days of hard work, healthy choices and respect for self, others and community, okay? Times are tough but committing to those three wonderful principles costs nothing, and guess what? The return on investment – ROI - is out of this world.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

“Friends not Foes”

At a recent breakfast event in downtown Denver I might an incredible young man. He serves in the United States Army and is preparing for a second tour of Iraq. “In your opinion, what’s the biggest reason for the reduction in violence?” I asked. Without hesitation, he responded, “It was when everyone realized the enemy of our enemy is our friend.”

In other words, when the tribal leaders of Iraq realized their enemy was not the Americans, but Al-Qaeda, and the Americans realized their enemy was not the Iraqis, but Al-Qaeda, things began to shift. U.S. and Iraqi forces - Sunni, Shite or Kurdish – started working together in defeating the true enemy, foreign fighters from Al Qaeda.

It’s a wonderful example of what the Comeback Coach talks about in each “Run to Daylight” workshop. We have to hand off this notion we can go it alone in life – regardless of the venue – and realize that “teamwork is the key to success.” That’s true whether we’re talking fighting wars halfway around the world, or within our homes, workplaces or communities. We need to become one heart beat in running to daylight and playing like a champion in the game of effectively dealing with challenges and adversities.

As I walked away from a chance encounter with this brave soldier preparing for another venture into a war zone, I couldn’t get his “when everyone realized the enemy of our enemy is our friend” comment out of my mind.

Where today is it time to realize “the enemy of my enemy is really my friend” in our lives? Perhaps it’s time to realize, the enemy is not an alleged disagreeable spouse or significant other but the APATHY currently present in the relationship? Maybe it’s time to realize the enemy is not the alleged grumpy boss but our ATTITUDE toward our job? Could it be time to accept the enemy is not what we eat or drink, but HOW much we consume?

What’s the old saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies even closer?” Well, that’s fine, but first, we have to be very clear, who the enemy really is!

This week take a cue from a soldier who has experienced firsthand the wisdom in realizing sometimes alleged enemies – home, work or community - are in reality, friends. Comrades – friends not foes - more than willing to help us overcome whatever challenge or adversity we currently battle.

“Against the Grain”

At the recent Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross’ “Breakfast of Champions” the national CEO/President of the American Red Cross, Gail McGovern, spoke briefly about Clara Barton, the organization’s founding mother.

The words that came from McGovern’s lips almost knocked me into the back wall of a banquet hall filled with almost 800 people gathered to honor this organization’s great work locally, nationally and around the world. McGovern, who after a successful corporate leadership career, took the reigns of Red Cross about a year ago, said the following about Barton’s philosophy of life: “Clara Barton was a rebel, kinda like me in school, she believed it was okay, and necessary really, to defy the tyranny of precedent.”

After I gathered my wits, rose from the floor and returned to my seat it got me to thinking, “ain’t that the truth?”

It’s exactly what the Comeback Coach talks about in each Run to Daylight workshop: “Quite often in life, we gotta put fear and self doubt aside – that’s the way it’s always been done – and have the guts to go for it, run to daylight and see what happens.”

But that takes courage to “go against the grain” so to speak. Many, including our fearful selves, will try and tell us differently: “There’s no way that will work, are you crazy?” Ever heard that before? Some will sound the alarm bells of fear surrounding, “What are you gonna do if it doesn’t work out?”

Tell ‘em you’re gonna “defy the tyranny of precedent.”

This week, whenever you run into somebody needing encouragement in effectively dealing with change, challenge and adversity give them a little hope and confidence, and perhaps a chuckle, when you say, “run to daylight and play like a champion in the game of defying the tyranny of precedent.”

They will look at you like you’re certifiably crazy. You must expect that, be ready. But then you come right back with, “Hey, listen it worked for Clara Barton, Gail McGovern and many others, it can work for you too.”

And guess what? Having the courage and wonderment to defy the tyranny of precedent and go against the grain will work for each of us as well. At home, work and in community, but please remember three things. Wherever implementing this philosophy make sure it’s in ways that honor you, nurture those dependent upon you and add value to the communities you serve, okay?”
 
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