Sunday, September 26, 2010

This week's Pep Talk: "Simple, not Easy"

I have had the great joy of returning to my sports roots for the past four months. It’s been a lot of fun. Each weekday afternoon from 3-6PM, along with Jimmy Doogan, I co-host sports talk radio on Mile High Sports, AM1510 and FM93.7. We call the show “Drive Time with Mac and Doog: Ain’t about us, it’s about YOU!”

We really try and focus on our listeners and give them a forum to express their opinion. Imagine, we’re all sitting around the bar talking sports, that’s the atmosphere we’re trying to create. Even when we have guests on the show we encourage our listeners to call in, with one caveat: considering our guests – players, coaches, analysts and others – are taking time from their busy schedules to join us, the least we, and our callers, can do when speaking with the guests is to, as we mention on the air, “Be nice and mind your manners.”

It’s a real basic request and everyone so far has honored the request, that’s pretty cool.

I wish to say I could take credit for thinking of this, but that wouldn’t be honest. I must give credit to my buddy Chester. My brother from another mother, we became good buddies during our college days at Mizzou and have stayed close ever since. At his family’s place in Crested Butte, Colorado, above the refrigerator is a sign that in large letters proclaims: “Be Nice and Mind Your Manners.”

I wonder if they have a sign like that in the halls of Congress? What about in our homes, workplaces, schools and elsewhere? Wouldn’t it be cool if, wherever we roam, it was emphasized to be “nice and mind your manners?”

I’m not saying we can’t have disagreement or discourse. I’m just saying can’t we exercise those important elements of society in a more civil manner than what seems to dominate these days. Do we really feel we must shout down another to be heard?

I think it all comes down to respect, for one another. We don’t have to always agree but my goodness, let’s debate our issues – home, work and elsewhere – in ways that honor, nurture and add value to self, others and the communities we serve, okay?

Be nice and mind our manners. It’s easy to say, and easy to affirm, far more difficult to execute, simple, not easy. A lot like life if you ask me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This week's Pep Talk: "Supporting Aspirations"

It was one of those Friday nights on Fillmore that I cherish: wandered down to my neighbor’s for our customary beer and chat; walked two blocks to a fabulous neighborhood Italian restaurant for dinner at the bar while watching, with other fans, another Colorado Rockies’ baseball victory; strolling home, getting online and connecting with others via Facebook.

That’s a blissful Friday evening in my book. The online conversation centered on a Daily Dose of encouragement I had posted earlier that day: “Live in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan mutters, “Oh hell, she/he is awake!”

The statement, I post one each weekday morning, drew many comments and led to some engaging banter. One participant really caught me eye, a young woman, the first to respond with an “I love it” after the posting. I discovered she’s interning, for three months, at a Denver restaurant and dreams of becoming a great chef like Jennifer Jasinski, owner of two popular Mile High City restaurants.

Brittany Gresh jokingly said in our conversation, “Someday I hope you post something about a dish I cooked.” I immediately responded with: “Let me know when you’re ready. It would be an honor to support your aspirations.” After sending that message, “It would be an honor to support your aspirations” I began to ponder the word “aspiration” and looked it up in the dictionary. It’s defined as: “a strong desire or ambition.”

What do you have a strong desire or ambition for these days? I recently hosted a young man Ross Guignon who is a rising star in American junior tennis. He’s gearing up for his senior year in high school, being recruited by top-notch collegiate programs and has a father who is one of my “brothers from another mother.” They stayed at my home while the southpaw played in a tournament at the nearby Gates Tennis Center.

Ross Guignon has a strong desire and ambition to play championship tennis, that’s his aspiration. What about you? What gets your motor running these days? Does your strong desire and ambition honor, nurture and add value to your life?

Brittany Gresh and Ross Guignon, two young kids chasing dreams. We all have dreams, aspirations and strong desires. And guess what? We all need support in the pursuit of those aspirations. There are times when it’s, as former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney would say, “tough sledding.”

It’s in those moments where each of us can help. Let’s never grow weary of encouraging – give hope and confidence to – one another. Supporting aspirations, a very good thing to do in the kitchen, on the court, at home, work and elsewhere.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

This week's Pep Talk: "Angels Among Us"

It was last weekend, Labor Day 2010 and I’m blessed to be in the mountains with darling girlfriend and my two precious children. I’m just observing them together and feeling very lucky.

For whatever reason my mind wanders to an earlier time, back to last year’s holiday season when driving across the country with Kyle and Rachel. The journey started in New York City where “K-Man” had attended NYU. He was moving to Los Angeles to continue his studies and work full-time in the entertainment industry. His younger sister and I had flown into New York, rented a big SUV, packed up Kyle’s belongings and started our trek west.

Through three time zones and nine states we drove. We’re only 100 miles from Denver, and a brief respite from our travels, when, what had been a flawless trip hit an unexpected bump in the road. We ran out of gas!

“Dad!” the kids wondered, “How in the world could you run out of gas?” I didn’t have a good answer. “The fuel gauge said we had about 30 miles left in the tank” was my lousy excuse. I surveyed the situation: the waning daylight of late afternoon; 10 miles from the closest service station. There was an interstate exit about a quarter mile down the road. “I’m gonna run up to that exit and see if I can find somebody to help.”

I’m jogging along the shoulder of the interstate. Big trucks are whooshing by when something inside says, “stick your thumb out for help.” Right then a man driving a pickup truck, towing a trailer loaded with freshly cut hay, pulls over. He rolled down the window in a friendly way. I explain my predicament to Wayne. He was quite amused.

“How can you run out of gas here?” the part-time farmer wonders. He then noted his brother-in-law owns an auto repair shop at the nearby exit. A minute later we’re there. He jumps out, disappears for maybe two minutes before reappearing carrying a three-gallon can of fuel.

Less than ten minutes later, my kids are startled to see their old man’s quick return. Wayne, who happens to also be a Colorado Department of Transportation employee, pours the petrol into our tank. We’re back on the road and heading for home.

Whenever giving a Pep Talk to a group, I try and encourage others to never growing wearing of doing good things for others. It’s that “one good deed leads to another” philosophy. What are the odds of, within seconds of running out of gas, someone stopped, had a nearby source of fuel and possessed the willingness to help?

Wayne, I never caught his last name, is an angel among us. We can be that type of person too. Look around, be aware and never miss any opportunity to help another because when you least expect it – or deserve it in my case - that goodwill will bounce back in ways you would never imagine possible.

Friday, September 3, 2010

"Honesty and Courage's Offspring"

Last week I made you suffer through a weekly Pep Talk almost double the normal length. To compensate for my exuberant behavior, this encouraging short story will be brief.

I’m riding home with son, good buddy, the good buddy’s wife and daughter from a weekend in the mountains. I’m crammed between son and friend’s daughter in the sports sedan’s backseat. During a lull in the lively conversation, I’m reading more of David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, Truman.

The author is talking about a letter our nation’s 33rd president, Harry S. Truman, while still an impressionable young man, received in 1894 from his mother. The words are not hers, but those of her idol, General Robert E. Lee, commanding general of the Confederate Army during our country’s Civil War: “You must be frank with the world; frankness is the child of honesty and courage. Say just what you mean to do on every occasion, and take it for granted you mean to do right. Never do anything wrong to make a friend or keep one. A person requiring you to do so is dearly purchased at a sacrifice. Deal kindly, but firmly with all your classmates; you will find it the policy that wears best. Above all, do not appear to others what you are not.”

Harry S. Truman’s mother was a smart woman to share this with her son. We could all learn from the advice given to our country’s future president, then 10-years-old. Let’s embrace these 87 words as our guiding light, this week and forever. Share them with others. More important than sharing the value of frankness – the child of honesty and courage – is living it.

Again, say what you mean, act with honor, never comprise goodness to keep or attract a friend, deal kindly but firmly with others and above anything else, be authentic.

Many things change in life; fads come and go but, frankly, embracing those five character traits should never go out of style in our quest to play like a champion – home, work and elsewhere.
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