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, 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!
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