Things I’m Thankful for that I Once Took for Granted

November 22, 2011

In my younger days I obsessed on things I did not have, focusing both eyes on what was missing in my life. I believed I could achieve success by setting goals and then working hard to fill the voids, to reduce my deficits and ultimately to obtain more possessions.

Now I’m wiser and realize I have always been surrounded by vast abundance. Though it sounds like a cliché—especially at Thanksgiving time—I have so much to be thankful for, including the following items that are so obvious I have tended to take them for granted:

  1. My mom. Okay, I never took mom for granted, yet I assumed she would always be there. Just two years ago, mom sat at our Thanksgiving dinner table. She shared stories, told jokes and inquired about each of our lives. She was a great mother and I always knew that. Only since her unexpected passing, though, have I become fully aware of how thankful I am for the profound influence she had upon me and my family.
  2. My eyesight. I never thought much about my vision until a melanomic tumor on my retina claimed the use of my left eye. I share that information not out of self-pity—I don’t feel sorry for myself and neither should you. Quite frankly, I don’t spend much time thinking about what I’ve lost. Instead, I focus on what I still have—vision in one eye that allows me to drive, to take photographs and to enjoy the beautiful world surrounding me. For that, I am truly grateful. Read the rest of this entry »

A Manifesto for Life Success

September 15, 2010

Whenever I hear Louis Armstrong sing What a Wonderful World I feel warm all over. I am reminded that I live in a full, abundant world.

Together we all share the joys and sorrows of life’s journey, though we we may be at different places along the path. In the distance I’ve traveled, I’ve learned a few things along the way. I share the following observations for the benefit of my fellow travelers:

With a commitment to living my life according to God’s plan, I believe that:

  1. Everything happens for a reason.
  2. Meaning and purpose can always be found in the midst of chaos.
  3. Knowing some of the questions is better than having all of the answers.
  4. Every thought, every choice and every action has consequences.
  5. What one focuses upon in life expands.
  6. We live in a world of abundance where there is enough for everyone.
  7. In a win-lose situation, there are usually no winners.
  8. Diversity divides when we focus only on our differences, but it enriches when we build on things we share in common.
  9. Life only makes sense when viewed from an eternal perspective.
  10. No matter how good the “good old days” may seem, our best days are yet to come.

A Manifesto for Team Performance

September 8, 2010

To achieve success, members of any marketing team must be united by a compelling vision and a shared set of beliefs.

With a commitment to teamwork, I invite you to join me in believing and internalizing the following affirmations:

  1. We are inspired by the mission of our team.
  2. As we visualize the role of marketing within the organization, we are proud to be a part of an exceptional consulting team working on projects that really matter.
  3. We value diversity within our group, knowing that each of us makes a unique contribution.
  4. We build synergy whereby the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In so doing, we recognize the interdependence of every member of the team.
  5. When the spotlight is on one of us individually, we appreciate and acknowledge the contributions made by our teammates, knowing that success is usually a team effort.
  6. We celebrate when another member of the team excels. After all, we know that one teammate’s success reflects positively on the entire group.
  7. When something goes wrong, we avoid pointing fingers and assigning blame. Instead, we join hands to seek solutions and to look for the learning embedded within the situation.
  8. We assume positive intentions on the part of others. In circumstances where there is a potential for misunderstanding, we proactively seek clarification.
  9. We are loyal to other members of the team, especially in their absence. We focus on the positive, affirming attributes of co-workers and teammates.
  10. We always operate from an abundance mentality that seeks win-win solutions. We refuse to believe that our win implies a loss for someone else, knowing that a scarcity mentality spawns fear, competitiveness and retaliation.



Journaling through the Tough Times

March 17, 2010

We all experience difficult times in life, and we each find different ways to help us get through those times. Meditation, prayer and physical exercise are common methods we use.

I have found the practice of journaling to be especially effective.

Journaling for Comfort

Last month when my mom died unexpectedly I received an e-mail from a friend and former co-worker. She also lost her mother unexpectedly within the past year, so she expressed her condolences and then passed along some practical wisdom, saying, “A dear friend told me the day after mom died to keep a diary of those first few days. You may think you’ll never want to remember them but there comes a day when you’ll look back on a particular kindness or a surprise visitor and smile.”

Though it’s been less than a month since Mom died, I’ve already filled more than 20 pages in my journal. I also kept a detailed timeline of everything that happened during the first week. I instinctively knew that the events transpiring during that surreal time would soon become a blur and my memory would inadequately recall everything. Read the rest of this entry »

What to Do When United Way Moves Your Cheese

January 6, 2010

I just finished re-reading the classic little book Who Moved My Cheese? It gave me a better understanding of what is happening in the nonprofit community—not just here in Kansas City, but across the nation.

For many years, the national United Way system has been struggling to redefine itself. Its leaders have created new methods for allocating money, and somehow they believe that “moving the cheese around” will make their cause more attractive to donors who have, over the years, found United Way to be waning in relevance.

That logic escapes me. In my opinion, United Way will become less relevant as it leaves gaping holes in human services programs. I guess you could call it their “Swiss cheese model” for meeting human needs. I assume United Way realizes that its decision to cut much-needed funding will actually force established, well-respected organizations such as the American Red Cross to compete more directly with them for contributions from within the same donor pool.

Personal Disclosure

To be transparent, I must disclose two important facts about myself before I continue sharing my opinions.

First, I am responsible for marketing at the American Red Cross of Greater Kansas City, the single largest recipient of United Way allocations in this region. Though I am employed by the Red Cross, this blog post has been written on my personal time and entirely reflects only my own opinions, not those of my employer.

Second, before coming to the Red Cross I served as the vice president of marketing for the United Way of Greater Kansas City. Because I have always had great respect for the organization and its mission, I am both a Diamond Donor (meaning I’ve given for 25+ years) and I’m also a member of the Leadership Giving Circle. However, in the weeks ahead I intend to reevaluate whether United Way is the wise investment I once thought it was.

By the way, I have many friends who work at United Way. They are exceptionally professional individuals and nothing I say here is a personal indictment of them or anyone else. Read the rest of this entry »

10 Things I’m Thankful For

November 23, 2009

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I am reminded of the words of Melody Beattie who said, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” With a profoundly grateful heart, I share the following 10 things for which I am thankful.

  1. A job. I know far too many good and talented people who are unemployed. In graditude for my job, I look for ways to network with job seekers. I hope to encourage them and also to share what I’ve learned from my own career transitions.
  2. Holidays. Though I’m thankful for my job, I’m also grateful for time away from the office. Everyone needs a little downtime. I create pauses in my daily schedule to ground myself. I look forward to a weekly sabbatical away from work. And I enjoy the change of pace that a holiday like Thanksgiving can bring.
  3. My Family. Next month Carol and I will celebrate 35 years of marriage. This year we’ve welcomed two new members into our family—our son-in-law Nathan (Jennifer’s husband) and our daughter-in-law Annette (Bryan’s wife). We’re also thankful for our son Greg and his daughter Kayla, and for his new job as an elementary school teacher.
  4. My Friends. Friends are special, and thankful for each and every person in my life. I value the diversity of age, race, politics, religion, socioeconomic status, education and even personality. Together we share the adventure of life’s great journey, though we may be at different places along the path.
  5. Health. Good health is often unappreciated until it’s gone, but as a cancer survivor I want to live each day with an awareness of my health and well-being. (Living more healthfully will also be one of my upcoming New Year’s resolutions.) Read the rest of this entry »

Did Someone Forget to Say Thank You?

November 17, 2009

My family and friends live life to its fullest. They are thankful for the abundance that surrounds them and they articulate their thankfulness in countless ways. Often they simply say, “Thank you!” Sometimes they send handwritten notes or e-mails expressing their gratitude. Occasionally I’ve been given a Starbucks gift card in appreciation of a special favor.

Almost everyone I encounter has a special way of saying thanks.

On rare occasions, however,  I encounter someone who falls short, someone who fails to express gratitude. Read the rest of this entry »

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