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.
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