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Big Dreams Have Their Own Rewards

Mt. Rainier

Big Dreams

I love the quote by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia: “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” President Sirleaf is the classic example of someone who dares to dream big. She has been the president of Liberia since 2006, the first women elected as a head of state in Africa. Initially President Sirleaf’s life did not seem marked for this achievement. She married at the age of 17, had four children and divorced her abusive husband at age 23. After her divorce, President Sirleaf came to the United States and later, received a Master’s Degree from Harvard.  Her life is an inspiration to dream big.

Mt. Rainier

My own big dream began by chance in 2014.  A patient came into the dental office where I work.  When I asked him what he did for a living he told me that he was a guide for Rainier Mountaineering, Incorporated, (RMI).  I was curious so I asked if climbing Mt. Rainier was something someone my age could do.  I have lived in the shadow of Mt. Rainier for years, but I had never given serious consideration to the thought of climbing the mountain.  Now my interest peaked.  I tossed the idea around for a year and then in 2016, I decided to give it a try.  I trained really hard.  I had no experience in climbing and it had been years since I had done any serious hiking.  The short story is that I did not accomplish my goal to reach the summit. But, I did come off the mountain energized, more determined than ever to live my dream.  

So as 2017 rolled around, I began training for my second attempt to reach the summit of Mt. Rainier.  I generally hit the gym five days a week. I started to train my legs not one day a week but three.  By the beginning of summer, I was running at least 20 miles a week.  I hiked almost every weekend in the Columbia River Gorge.  A friend helped me complete the climb of Mt. Adams, the second highest peak in Washington.  In August, I began intensively training for my Mt. Rainer climb.  When August rolled around, I felt confident and ready to live my dream.  But once again I fell short.  Only this time, I came away from the experience feeling defeated and discouraged.  I had invested the time and money only to walk away empty handed.  But, did I?

Big dreams have their own rewards!

After further reflection upon my experience, I came away with a different perspective and a new appreciation for the experience.  Seeking your dreams can be a little like going on vacation. Many times the anticipation is almost as much fun as the vacation itself.  I, for one, love the discipline of preparing physically for a challenge.  

While training is hard, in and of its self, it is a rewarding experience as you see the physical changes and increased fitness level.  I realized that I had lived for almost 40 years only an hour’s drive from the Columbia Gorge, one of the world’s most amazing hiking area and had not hiked one time.  Because I was training from Mt. Rainier, I hiked seven times in the gorge and saw countless vistas and waterfalls. The Larch Mountain hike, which begins at the base of Multnomah Falls at the historic Multnomah Lodge climbs 4,000 feet over 7 miles, passing several stunning waterfalls.  The scenery in the Columbia River Gorge is spectacular. Years ago, I had attempted to climb Mt. Adams. This summer, in my training for the Mt. Rainier climb, I tried again and reached my goal.  I had one of the best summers in my life, in spite of not seeing the summit of Mt. Rainier.

Recently, as I read about the devastation of the Eagle Creek Fire and its potential effects on the hiking trails in the Columbia River Gorge, I can’t help be feel especially grateful for the summer of ’17.  I am reminded of the words of Lori Deschene, “Life can still be beautiful, meaningful, fun, and fulfilling even if things don’t turn out the way you planned.”  Perhaps the lesson is that in the process of dreaming big, we will create rich and rewarding lives.  

Do you want to help motivating your team to “dream big?”  Contact me!  “Let me inspire you!”

 

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Taking the Positive Approach

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw

Running on the beach in the rain in Hawaii
Running in the rain in Hawaii
Jogging in Hawaii on the beach
Jogging in Hawaii, soaking up the positive energy.

I have found that taking a positive approach to life, as recommended by George Bernard Shaw, to be invaluable advice.  Little did I know that when I turned 60, almost 10 years ago, jogging would become such an integral part of my life.  It happen quite by chance, but jogging has turned out to be a positive part of who I am.  Just this morning when I woke up, I could feel the cobwebs. I kind of had one of those “first thing in the morning” headaches.  But I knew that all I had to do was put on my running shoes, grab my earbuds and phone, leash up my favorite running companion, Max, and in no time I would feel better. In reality I knew that I would be better than better. I would be feeling great! It has happened so many times that I have total faith in the principle.

Throughout my life, I have noticed that when I take a proactive approach with a positive attitude to life’s challenges, things just turn out better.  That isn’t to say that there haven’t been a multitude of difficult challenges throughout my life, we all have them.  Having a positive attitude doesn’t mean that we stick our heads in the sand and ignore the challenge.  Having a positive attitude opens our minds to more possible solutions. A positive attitude also increases our confidence that a workable solution will be found.

Internet articles abound regarding the positive effect of a positive attitude.  I recently found one by Laura Bauer in which she enumerates six benefits of a positive attitude.  Among the positive benefits of positive thinking, she mentions greater resistance to the common cold, lower cholesterol, and increased resistance to cardiovascular disease.  Although these three should be enough to prompt all of us to try to improve our attitudes, the remaining three were particularly interesting to me.

Increased life span.

In a recent Dutch study that appeared in the JAMA Psychiatry, it was found that those with a positive attitude were 55% less likely to die during the nine-year follow-up period.

Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress and depression.

George Patton, a professor of adolescent health research at the Murdoch Children’s Centre for Adolescent Health in Melbourne, noted in an article published in Pediatrics, found that optimistic kids do better in avoiding emotional and behavioral problems during their teens, even though they are not completely immune to setbacks.

Slower aging.

The last benefit should get all of our attentions.  The Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study that found that pessimistic adults, ages 60 and above, experienced increased problems and a decline in mobility while their happier counterparts were 80% less likely to experience similar declines.

My wife, Cindy is a testament to the power of positive thinking.  When she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 43 years ago, treatment options were limited and she was told that she could expect to live 20 years or less.  But Cindy has maintained a positive attitude. By doing so, she has out lived that prognosis by over 20 years.  Does that mean that she has not face difficult challenges?  No, the challenges have been numerous and difficult, but a positive attitude has enable us to find solutions and maintain a lifestyle that could be envied by more able-bodied individuals.

This morning as Max and I completed our run, I remembered the words of Groucho Marx. “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”

Let me help you create a more positive atmosphere in your organization, give me a call. “Let me inspire you.”

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The PEP (Procative, Efficient & Persistent) Talk

Dr. Steven Neil Kaplan, Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance
Dr. Steven Neil Kaplan

In 2008 I  celebrated Father’s Day by attending the convocation ceremonies at the University of Chicago Graduate Business School.  My son  received his MBA. The faculty speaker at the ceremony was Steven Neil Kaplan, Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance.

Dr. Kaplan’s research previously has focused on private equity and entrepreneurial finance, corporate governance and finance and mergers and acquisitions. Recently he studied personality traits of CEO that produced the most significant results for their companies.

Previous studies by authors such as Jim Collins (Good to Great and Built to Last) have found character traits that have been universal in good leaders.  Character traits such as humility, team players, good listeners and the ability of hire the “right” people, are essentail in transforming companies. Coolins also found that even with these traits some leaders did not achieve the same results.

PEP (Proactive, Efficient & Persistent)

Dr. Kaplan’s research revealed three additional traits that seemed to be pivotal producing success. These character traits are proactive, efficient and persistent, “PEP.” Dr. Kaplan’s research confirmed that these three characteristics were universal in leaders who were able to make a difference. Dr. Kaplan encouraged the graduates to approach their business careers with “PEP.”

As I listened to Dr. Kaplan, I had to agree. In my own personal journey, I find that when I am proactive (Make the choice, Cross the wake, Live your dreams!) in approaching a challenge, attack it in an efficient manner and follow through with persistence to the end, my results are stellar but when I sit back and wait, fail to get to the heart of the matter efficiently or acquiesce to the pressure of those around me, my result are less than adequate. My most remarkable successes have been directly related to my level of “PEP.”  To get a little more “PEP” in your group give me a call.

 

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Use Your Keys

Keys are wonderful tools. We use them daily to unlock doors, start cars and figuratively speaking, to unlock opportunities.

Several years ago while vacationing in Orlando, I was returning to the condo after running some errands.  I had several items that I needed to take back to the room. Rather than make two trips, I grabbed them all.  My hands were full.  I still had the rental car keys and key fob in my hands as I juggled my cargo.  I boarded the elevator and as I went to push the button, I dropped the keys. I watched in horror as the keys tumbled end over end, landing four feet below at the bottom of the elevator shaft! Have you ever had one of those “This can’t be happening to me!” moments? This was mine!

The next day was spent not vacationing, but waiting for the elevator company to retrieve the keys.  I was reminded of my mistake and lack of judgement every time I used the elevator that day. There at the bottom of the shaft lay my keys, taunting me. 

Over the years when I reflect upon this experience, I am reminded of the usefulness of keys. The fact is that if we don’t or can’t use our keys, they are of little value.  Many times we fail to take our keys out of our pocket and simply put it in the lock.  Other times we have dropped our keys down the elevator shaft and they are unavailable for use. When I speak, my goal is to inspire the audience to use their keys to unlock the vast opportunities that lie ahead of all of us.  Let me inspire you to use your keys.