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!
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