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?
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