Sunday, October 31, 2010

This week's Pep Talk: "I Can"

I was recently enjoying a business meeting with a guy about my age when he told a story that just about knocked my socks off. His name is Chris Pentico, everybody calls him “ChrisP.” The Colorado native has experienced adversity in life, including surviving a small-plane crash, and is a fan of the weekly Pep Talks. He also thinks your humble encourager should run for president in 2012. He even printed up some “McIntosh in 2012: Common Ground” bumper stickers. Let me know if you want one.

Anyway, the father of three wonderful daughters, and the man who brags about marrying well above his head, was a good athlete in his earlier years. His dream was to play collegiate football and baseball at the University of Houston.

He had a baseball coach there who, in ChrisP’s opinion, “was one of the greatest motivators ever.” One of the coach’s most powerful motivational tools was simply, a can.
Yes, just a plain can that always sat on the coach’s desk. It was a constant reminder to the mentor and the players who visited his office of something very important in life – belief in self.

It was just a can but it stood for “I can.” So often in life we get into challenging situations testing our fortitude, defined as “courage in the face of pain or misfortune.” We want to give up, toss in the white towel, surrender, call it what you want. It’s at those moments when an “I can” can could make a great difference.

It sure did in the life of many University of Houston baseball players who would wake up on certain mornings, during challenging times – on and off the diamond – and find an “I can” resting on their dormitory doorknob. It was reminder to the players that the coach had their backs and believed in them.

I want to challenge each of you this week. Get yourself an “I can” and stick it somewhere visible to you each day. Also get another “I can” and put it on the doorknob of someone you cherish who might need a little encouragement – hope and confidence – right now.

And there’s one more thing you need to do. Put a little note inside the can asking the person for some of their time so you can explain - and convince them you’re not crazy - placing a can on their doorknob.

This exercise makes me think of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great philosopher of the 1800’s who once proclaimed: “It’s one of the most beautiful compensations in life; no man, or woman, can sincerely try and help another without helping themselves; serve and thou shall be served.”

To steal a line from Nike, “just do it.” Together, utilizing the “I can” can we can make a difference in the lives of others. Nobody will benefit more than us.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

This week's Pep Talk: "Give a Hoot"

I had a female recently unsubscribe from the weekly Pep Talk distribution list proclaiming - I’m paraphrasing - “I could give a hoot about football, don’t bore me with it.” The fact the word “football” had not appeared in the recent “Simple, not Easy” means little in comparison to her disdain.

So, I promise, this Pep Talk is not about sports, but starts with a sports story. It’s about life and trying our best to add value to home, work and elsewhere. It was the Colorado Rockies at St. Louis Cardinals on the final Saturday of the 2010 baseball regular season. The teams, each expecting post-season appearances, had been eliminated from playoff contention and were playing out the string. Often, these meaningless games are a good opportunity for coaches, general managers and fans to see which players truly love the game and who, once there’s little to play for, like my female critic mentioned earlier, could give a hoot!

Anyway, it was a close game. The Rockies’ Ubaldo Jimenez, already with the club single-season stikeout record in his back pocket, was trying to win his 20th game - a respected baseball milestone.

About halfway through the scoreless affair, play comes to a halt, for good reason: to honor a great man, Cardinal Hall-of-Famer Stan Musial. 89 years young and looking damn good, the three-time world champion slugger known as “Stan the Man” finished his career with around 3,600 hits, close to 500 homers and was a 24-time All Star in 22 seasons. What you ask, “How can you be a 24-time All-Star in 22 seasons? Long ago, they played two All-Star games each summer.

Anyway, the television play-by-play announcer, as viewers see a picture of everybody in the stands waving to the icon from a golf cart circling the field states: “This great man is a recipient of the Medal of Freedom and will receive it soon from president Obama.”

The most honorable thing that can ever be bestowed upon an American citizen is the Medal of Freedom. You are an American stud or studette – case closed. That’s the story of the Pennsylvania-born Musial. The “Medal of Freedom” mention takes me to Whitney Young. I talk about his guy often when somebody gives me the great joy of standing before a crowd and encouraging them with a Pep Talk.

Young was a military, civil rights and family leader who, in 1971, drowned on an overseas business outing. Two years earlier, and emerging as a promising national leader, President Johnson awarded the Kentucky native the Medal of Freedom.

Young’s life motto was: “There’s nothing noble in being superior to somebody else, true nobility lies in becoming superior to our former selves.” Damn, I love that! A baseball game halted to honor a legend takes us to “superior to our former selves.” Would it be fair to suggest, another way of saying “superior to our former selves” is “there’s always room for improvement?”

And then it gets better. In looking up Medal of Freedom history, I run across the requirements: “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

It then inspires me to encourage you to consider something: How about each of us this week, in our thoughts, words and actions decide we’re going to focus on making an especially meritorious contribution to the security or interests of home, work and community?

Let’s be honest, the odds of ever being awarded a Medal of Freedom are slim, but we can contribute – play like champions - to the security and interests of our homes, business and communities, can’t we? I know, it ain’t easy. That’s why it’s darn important to encourage one another. Encourage defined as, “give hope and confidence to.”

Do that this week. While walking your talk, reach out to somebody and give them hope and confidence to act likewise. In comparison to a disgruntled Pep Talk subscriber, give a hoot, okay?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

This week's Pep Talk: "Salutations to Seuss"

Whenever given the opportunity of speaking before a group and encouraging others, despite what arrives unexpected and unwanted, to try our best to turn life’s lemons – the heck with lemonade – into sweet and savory margaritas, we always talk about the importance of “being limited only by imagination, not fear, in creating productive choices to the challenge we face.” I know that might sound incredibly naïve and idealistic, but here’s a real life example that exemplifies that truth.

I have recently learned about a young man who was attending a prestigious Ivy League university. He ran into trouble with the school’s administration when he and some buddies were caught drinking in their college dorm. As punishment, administrators forced the aspiring writer to resign from all university extra-curricular activities, including working for the campus humor magazine. It was a devastating blow. But remember, as stated before, sometimes in life we must, “be limited only by imagination, not fear, in creating productive choices to the challenges we face.”

Raised in Springfield, Massachusetts - the birthplace of basketball among other things – the spirit of this son of German immigrants knew no boundaries. He began to write, and contribute to, the humor magazine under a pen name that made him sound important – doctor – and utilized his middle name - Seuss.

The rest is history. Theodor Seuss Geisel, before passing at the age of 87 in 1991, became an American icon. You know his work well: Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Dartmouth University, the Ivy League school where, during Prohibition, he was caught drinking in the dorm, has a cool way of honoring one of its most distinguished alums. Incoming freshman always take a camping trip together - a unifying event. On their return to campus, the Dartmouth rookies overnight at a New Hampshire lodge where, the next morning, green eggs and ham are served for breakfast.

Theodor Seuss Geisel faced adversity – getting booted off the campus humor magazine – and decided to be limited only by imagination, not fear, in creating productive choices to the challenge he faced – a passion to continue to write for that publication.

Each of us has unique challenges. And while the challenges are unique, guess what? The strategy to deal with them remains the same! We must - I know it’s easier said than done - put fear aside and allow wonderment to win. To steal a line from Dr. Seuss, when talking about the wisdom of putting fear aside and allowing wonderment to win: “"If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

This week's Pep Talk: "Common Ground is Key"

I was reading the Denver Post on a recent Sunday afternoon when a letter to the editors caught me eye:

“Our national ‘dialogue’ is dominated by self-important agendas meant to set aside others and their concerns and needs. Call me crazy and perhaps naïve, but wouldn’t we be a lot better off by putting all the energy into finding common ground?”

The writer, Kelsey Kenfield from Denver, is somebody I want - as former CU football coach Bill McCartney would say - “to charge out of the foxhole with.” Common ground. Is it fair to call it “teamwork?” It’s stressed everywhere: our families, schools, neighborhoods, businesses and athletic teams. Why in the heck have we lost track, it’s a universal truth? We must work together to solve what ails us. I know, simple, not easy.

For example, two issues surrounding life in America needing immediate attention are education and immigration. Our schools are financially strapped and our immigration policies in desperate need of enforcement and revision. Whenever I have the honor of standing before a group and encouraging them to play like champions in the game of life we always talk about “believing in the law of circulation; that one good deed leads to another.”

In the context of education and immigration, how about this idea: We finally get Congress to pass new immigration policies providing excellent security at our borders, a reasonable pathway to citizenship and a promise, from those applying, to the following: “work hard at your job, obey the law and encourage school-age children in your home to embrace the value of education and fluency of English as their primary language.” In other words, The United States of America sets expectations for those who desire a new start in our country. In return, the path to citizenship would be through a front door, not the back and its dangerous pitfalls.

Returning to Kenfield’s thoughts expressed in the Post about “common ground” and the importance of it, could this be a step in the right direction? America sets the expectation, those seeking admittance accept, the door is open, come on in. It’s really no different than successful strategies for raising kids, building businesses and safe neighborhoods: we find common ground, set expectations and expect cooperation. When that doesn’t happen, there are consequences.

Finding common ground, setting expectations and expecting cooperation are excellent building blocks for success – anywhere! It boils down to this: are we willing to sacrifice self – costs a little –for the betterment of the common good – means a lot? Like Kenfield, I’ve been called crazy and naïve before, but if you ask me, when a majority of folks answer “yes” to questions about common ground, expectations and cooperation, we’ll begin to make progress wherever we roam in America – home, work and elsewhere.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This week's Pep Talk: "Beats being Bummed"

It was a spectacular Mile High City day of mid-September. I’m wandering around my near eastside Congress Park neighborhood: stopped into to see my buddies who own the grocery store; then a quick meeting with business partner just a few doors down and then, lunch with another buddy and his two darling daughters – neither would sit next to me and crammed into the booth next to their father. Am I really that scary?

I’m now strolling back to my modest abode, enjoying the warm sunshine, incredibly blue sky and perfect temperature – feeling very blessed. And then it gets better.

I bump into a neighbor friend whose mother, in her 80’s, is still very physically healthy but has some memory challenges. Those challenges make living in an assisted living facility a smart move for her and loved ones – folks like you - agonizing over the best strategy - independence or assistance – for their cherished creators, mentors and supporters.

“My mom rarely calls, but she called the other day,” says my neighbor friend, a great woman, wife and mom, “She was so jacked about their trip to the mountains.” Then my friend said something that made my marrow gurgle: “She sounded so joyful.”

Ah, music to my ears. Whenever I have the thrill of standing before a group and encouraging them to “run to daylight” and “turn life’s lemons into – the heck with lemonade – sweet and savory margaritas” we always talk about the importance of being “joyful for the blessings of our life.”

Now, I understand, that’s easier said than done. Quite often, when it seems like you’re up to your ass in crocodiles – I heard that often growing up in Missouri – and feel like lunch for the crocs, it’s damn tough to be focused on being “joyful.” I get it.

But we do have a choice. We can still, despite life’s lemons, be focused on the sweet and savory, the margaritas. It might be real hard to find them sometimes but they’re usually there. What we don’t know until we’re in that spot, is whether we will choose to focus on the challenge itself or perhaps, be focused on a solution. And sometimes the solution is to say, “Okay, I know I have this – fill in the blank – but I choose to refuse to allow it to have me.”

Focus on your blessings. Promise yourself to be a student of your experiences and not a victim of your circumstances. My neighbor’s mother is aging, forgetful and has other issues, but at least on this two-day getaway with others from her assisted living facility, she chose to be joyful.

It’s a good place to operate from. Whether it comes from walking around your neighborhood on a glorious day, remembering a great vacation or counting your blessings, being joyful sure beats being bummed out. Today, tomorrow and down the road - home, work and elsewhere.
facebook metwitter
linkd in

Hey Comeback Coach Copyright© 2009

About The Comeback Coach | Contact Us | Links | Privacy Statement