Week 12 MKMMA – Have you been Naughty or Nice???

Tough question, huh??  If you’re being honest, probably a little bit of both, right?  I’m sure you haven’t done anything as egregious as our friends here, but, really, have you been nice??  The Christmas season is such an awesome time of year for many different reasons, but it can be equally stressful as well!

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Let’s start with, of course, with the grandest tradition of all, the obligatory gift giving.  Do you think that causes any stress??  For the moment, let’s even forget about that most people’s Christmas purchases are on their credit cards for at least 5 months, but just focus on the act of buying presents in general.  Do we ever know what to buy??  OK, if you have kids it’s easy, they are shameless and will tell you everything that they want without hesitation.  But everybody else?  Tell me if this sounds familiar?  You stress about the topic for the entire month of December until you go out and buy a gift card on December 23rd!

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Now, we have to get a tree!  It can’t be any tree, it has to be the perfect tree!  And, no tree is perfect without the wonderful decorations and Christmas ornaments that you’ve accumulated throughout the years.  Plus, we can’t be the only house on the block that doesn’t have a plastic reindeer in our front yard, and enough lights to bring in a 747, can we??  No stress there, right???

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OK, but in the final week, everything is under control, right??  I mean, most of the presents are bought and wrapped, and the decorations have been lighting up the sky for weeks.  So, time to relax and rejoice, right??  Well, not really, because there are 20 people coming over the house next week and you have to feed them all!  Enough already, when does January start???

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OK, take a deep breath and breathe!  The purpose of this article wasn’t to be negative.  I wanted to talk about an experience I had this morning and this was my long and drawn out way to get to my point.  This morning, on my way to work, I pulled in front of someone in traffic.  I wasn’t being careless, I had a terrible sightline because of other cars on the road, but unfortunately, the gentleman was right and I was wrong.  It was one of those moments that we’ve all had where I knew I was wrong and I gestured to the man accordingly when he pulled up along side of me.  Well, let’s just say that my acknowledgment of guilt didn’t satisfy him evidently because there it was, that single digit displayed at me that is so synonymous with road rage!  None of this story is earth shattering, we’ve all been in this situation before.  The thing, however, that was different today, and really blew me away was my reaction!  I don’t know where it came from, but I just smiled and waved back at my new friend, and I mean a real wave, not a response to his wave! 🙂  In the past, I would’ve gotten upset and threw my finger right back at him, but for some reason, today I didn’t.  Now, unfortunately, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I greatly enjoyed the fact that my smile infuriated him even more, so there are still some demons I have to work on…..lol.  However, my reaction was instinct, and that is what pleased me the most.

We are being taught in this class to abstain from negative thoughts at all times.  They just take energy away from you that could and should be used for positive results.  This has been very difficult at times for me because it is so hard to control your thoughts at all times.  Today was a result that I’m making great progress and that is what I wanted to share.

Lastly, yes, Christmas does stress each of us out at some point in one way or another.  But, it’s a great time of year as well.  It is a time of year that most people are more concerned with giving than receiving.  We feel the need to share with others at this time of the year more than any other.  We also feel gratitude for all of the good in our life!  So, when stress hits this holiday season, try and remember the important things instead of the commercialization of the season.  Odds are, you will feel very grateful for all that you have!

And take a lesson from this little guy………be nice!

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Week 11 MKMMA -More Important Things than your Rep!

I’ve always been an avid sports fan.  At the same time, I’ve always been a student in self development, and particularly a keen observer of the most influential individuals.  So, how John Wooden got past me, I’m really not sure.  Yes, the bulk of his success was before my passion for sports took shape, but the imprint he left on sports and individual success is remarkable.  This man won 10 of 12 men’s NCAA basketball championships, including 7 in a row!  No one else ever won more than 2!  Here’s the funny part: he wasn’t the highly emotional, borderline egomaniac that we’re so accustomed to seeing these days.  He didn’t berate officials, he didn’t scream at his players, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t have a Twitter account!  OK, he was before Twitter’s time, but even if he wasn’t, I don’t think you would have ever been following @jwoodtenringsandcounting!  He was a man of great faith.  He was a man that loved his players and could teach them how to play the right way even though he was a few decades older than them.  He was a man that believed that you couldn’t have had a great day unless you did something for someone else who had no way to repay you.  Wooden taught his players how to master the mundane.  Why did his players have to shoot 500 layups during practice??  Because he knew that when the time came for them to make that layup in the game, whether the score was 4-2 or it was tied with 30 seconds left, you would make that shot.  The mundane details distinguished his team from the rest.  He would teach them how to perfectly put on their socks everyday.  Well, that’s a little crazy, right??  Maybe not, when the wrong way could cause blisters, and blisters on someone who is 6’9″ and is constantly running up and down the court will cause that player to play below his optimum level.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing about Wooden today is the quote in the picture above that really had an impact on me.  It is so true and I believe that so few of us, including myself, live it.  First of all, your reputation is subjective.  We all know the old adage that you can’t please everybody, right??  So, why do we even try??  Why do we care what our friends, or our colleagues, or the mailman thinks for that matter??  And, I mean the good as well as the bad.  If your friend or your spouse thinks that you are the greatest person in the world, what really does that matter if you can’t look in the mirror and believe the same thing?  Your character is what you really are.  When you say you are going to do something, do you do it no matter what, or does some miraculous excuse pop up time after time??  I’ve had my bouts with this myself.  I’ve promised to be somewhere or do something, only to change my mind, and rationalize it in my head that it was no big deal.  What I might have failed to realize is that someone was counting on me and I let them down.  As I have started a personal business, I have been on the other end of this dozens and dozens of times.  I hate to say it, but I really don’t think there is much pride anymore in personal integrity.  So many people will take the easy way out of any situation.  They will tell you what you want to hear and will have no problem rescinding that promise when the time comes.  Again, I don’t judge, because I have been that person.  The greatest thing I got out of these encounters though is the awareness.  It made me realize I don’t want to be that person.  I don’t want to be that person anymore that gives their word only to back out at a later date.  I don’t want to be the person that instead of answering a phone call that might lead to an uncomfortable conversation just lets it go to voice mail.  My awareness has made me want to be the other person.  The person that if he tells you something, you can write it in ink because it’s gonna happen!  I’m still a work in progress, but I’m getting better and better and it makes me feel incredible!  That’s the character that Wooden is talking about.  Only I can give myself that feeling!  Others can think what they want and while hopefully, my reputation is always strong, at the end of the day, the only person I have to answer to is the Man in the Glass.    Best to you all…….Tony

Week 10 MKMMA – Are you the Elephant or the Turtle???

Well, if you read the title, you have probably immediately jumped to the conclusion that you are the elephant!  After all, the elephant symbolizes size, strength, and the ability to take care of himself no matter what conditions arise.  And the turtle??  Who would ever want to share the characteristics of a turtle??  Small, slow, weak, the complete opposite in every way to the mighty elephant.  Well, let me share my stories on each and then maybe we can take a revote, OK??  The image above is not to poke fun at the mighty elephant, but it is the perfect example how a belief can be ingrained in your mind so forcefully, that over time you refuse to believe anything else.  I’ve heard of this metaphor before and it is really quite amazing.  As you can see from the photo, our elephant friend is being retained by a tiny stake in the ground and a thin rope.  You’re probably wondering, why wouldn’t he just snap that rope and roam free??  He surely can easily rip that stake right out of the ground just like you and I snapping a toothpick.  So, why doesn’t he??  The reason is because his brain is conditioned to believe that he can’t.  How is that possible??  Well, when the elephant was a baby and did not have the size or strength needed, he was tied up in this manner.  He probably tried over and over again to free himself, however, it was no use, he wasn’t going anywhere.  Sadly, as he got older and much more powerful, he never tried to break free because his brain was conditioned to believe that there was no use, he could never break his restraints.  OK, now let’s meet our other friend, the turtle.

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As you can see, this guy means business!!  I don’t know if he’s looking for food, a quick swim, or he’s just taking a shortcut to beat the damn rabbit in the race, but he’s determined to accomplish the goal!  This little guy doesn’t know his limitations, while unfortunately, the elephant doesn’t know his potential.  The turtle is only focused on whatever it is he desires, not on the obstacle in his way.  The elephant is defeated by the smallest of obstacles and has given up.  So, I ask you one more time, are you the elephant or the turtle???  Is there a small string holding you back from striving for your goals and dreams??  If there is, you might have to ask yourself why??  Why do you not believe that you can accomplish whatever it is that you set your mind to??  If you really confront this issue, there’s a very good chance, that like the elephant, your belief has no basis for your reality!  You might find out that you can break free from your tiny stake just as easily as our large friend.  Unfortunately, we all put limitations on our abilities at one time or another and rationalize it with an excuse like “I’m too young” or “I’m too old”, or “I’m not smart enough”.  Sorry to say, but that is all BS…….the real problem is that you are an elephant.  So, my challenge to you today is to be a turtle!  There is no fence too high or dream too big!  Whether you believe it or not, we can all make this choice everyday.  The problem is that most people when presented with either an obstacle or an opportunity, will choose the known result of the tiny stake instead of the unknown result of climbing the giant fence.  So, next time, be the turtle and shoot me a message to let me know what is on the other side of that fence.  As for you elephants, well, I guess I’ll always know where to find you if I need you.  Best to you all……….Tony

 

 

 

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Week 8 MKMMA – Jackpot – You Win (Everyday!!)

Congratulations!!  You are the lucky winner of 86,400 seconds!  Wait??  Huh?  What?  OK, you got me, I used the wrong symbol, but I had to grab your attention, didn’t I??  But, yes, everyday when that clocks strikes midnight, you are being awarded 86,400 seconds with which you make the decisions of how to use for that day.  I know, everybody has seen this analogy before, and I’ll be honest with you, it’s never really motivated me.  I see the story on Facebook all the time:  “If you were given $86,400 today and had to use it today, wouldn’t you spend all of it???”  Truthfully, probably not, especially if I knew that another $86,400 was going to waiting in my checking account in a few hours, right??  Now, I understand that would be wasteful and that is not the point of the lesson, but what I’m saying is that example is not what juices me when it comes to the subject of time.  What gets me excited about time is that it is pretty much the one resource where nobody has an advantage!  Warren Buffet might be a lot smarter and have a kagillon more dollars than me, but when it comes to time, he has the same 24 hours and 86,400 seconds.  You cannot buy more time, stop time, or unfortunately go back in time.  If you could, I would certainly have already gone back to the 3rd grade spelling bee and spelled cemetery with and “E” instead of an “A”, thereby allowing me to take home that 4 inch trophy, receive complete adoration from my classmates, and trigger a reaction that would have probably changed the course of my entire life!  OK, I’m a little bitter.  🙂  My point is that we can do whatever we want with this time, but make no mistake, these decisions will compound and mold your future.  If you are going to watch TV for 8 hours a day, I hope you don’t aspire to be an Olympic Gold Medalist because it aint gonna happen!  However, your positive daily habits compound as well.  Assignment – find someone you consider successful and ask them if they have daily habits.  Also, find someone that could use a good kick in the you-know-what, and ask them the same question.  Think you will get some different results???  It will be night and day!  Your successful friend will probably tell you things like reading, meditating, exercising, laughing, and helping others.  You less ambitious friend will probably look at you like you have two heads because their habits are getting out of bed, going to work, watching TV, and going to bed.  Repeat, repeat, and repeat again.  I challenge you to develop better daily habits if you don’t have them already.  They don’t have to be grand gestures either.  Make them small at first, so that you know you will stick with them.  As you develop them, they will get easier and easier and you can start to make them bigger and bigger!  Lastly, stop saying things like TGIF or complaining that it’s Monday.  I even heard a new term a few weeks back called Smonday, that’s when the fun of Sunday ends and the anxiety of Monday starts.  The reason I say that is because your life shouldn’t be enjoyable 2 days a week and 2 additional weeks out of the year.  That’s what you condition your brain to believe when you say TGIF.  You should make the most out of that 86,400 everyday!  Don’t forget – man, woman, rich, poor, old, young, we’re all the same when it comes to time, what are you going to do with yours???  Well, I got roughly 30,000 seconds left in my bank today and I’m going to go and make the most of it!  I feel great……and it’s not just because it’s Fraturday!  Don’t go stealing that one……..it’s mine!!  Best to you all……..Tony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 7 MKMMA – Am I Really Such a Negative SOB???

Don’t answer that friends!!  And, no I’m not, but it kinda felt like that at times this week.  So, my assignment this week – eliminate negative thoughts.  Completely!  Whenever I was confronted with a negative thought, I was supposed to quickly change course and think about something that would make me smile.  I don’t know what……..a baby, a puppy, a freakin rainbow, whatever would do the trick!  So, I was given this direction last Sunday afternoon during my class.  Well, of course, as luck would have it, I would be tested in a strong way rather immediately.  I wish I could tell you I passed!  Two hours after my webinar ended, my Philadelphia Eagles were playing the team I hate more than any in all of sports, the Dallas Cowboys!  I tried, I really did, but two minutes into the game, they showed Jerry Jone’s face on TV and I said “Screw it, I’ll start tomorrow”!  After all, I’m only human, right??  Now, I thought this would be a rather easy thing to do.  More often than not, I’m a very positive person, and especially after starting this course, I often find myself in an empowering state of mind.  Boy, was I wrong???  Someone cuts in front of me in traffic, boom, negative thought!  The copy machine isn’t working in the office, boom, negative thought!  The man in front of me at Subway that needs to know the ingredients and nutritional value of every sandwich on the menu, boom, many negative thoughts!  Then, when Starbucks introduced their new red cups, I almost lost my mind!!!  OK, I’m kidding about that one.  Honestly, I don’t care if Starbucks decorates their cups with Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, or the Cookie Monster, but that’s a whole other topic.  My point here is that I had many more negative thoughts than I would’ve imagined and I started to wonder if I was a terrible person.  Luckily, they told us that this would be a great undertaking and that we would be surprised by the results, most likely in the unfavorable way that I was experiencing it.  It’s really crazy to think about all of the little things in a given day that we get upset over that really should have no affect on us whatsoever.  These incidents are trivial and we should not even be paying them a second thought.  Worst of all, they take up our energy, energy we should be using for all of the important things in life.  We should be focusing this energy on our goals and our dreams, not on the 30 extra seconds that I had to spend in line at Subway.  Have you ever been upset about something, that feeling lingers throughout the day, and when you finally realize it, you have no idea why you are upset???  Alot of times, its because we allow these small inconveniences to take over and we give them more power than they ever deserve.  So, back to the experiment!  I will say, that I improved over the course of the week.  I started catching myself quicker and quicker and when I did, I got rid of that thought as soon as I could.  It’s not easy, but it is definitely rewarding!  So, the next time you find yourself getting pissed off over something trivial, be aware, change your course of thought, and then smile, knowing that somewhere out there, I’m probably thinking about a freakin rainbow!  Best to you all……..Tony

If you can Lead the Horse to Water, why can’t you get him to Drink???

I’ve always felt that the word “leader” gets thrown around a lot and in a great number of cases, I’ve wondered if that title is really warranted?  So, what is a leader??  Well, the dictionary will tell you that a leader is the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.  I can buy that as a definition, but isn’t there more to it than that, shouldn’t there be more stringent criteria before one is anointed with that moniker?  A simple definition that I always liked is that a leader is someone that has followers.  That is definitely true!  Many people think of themselves as a leader, but really, who is following your lead??  If your answer to that is your kids and your dog, then you might need to take a step back and question your skills.  I bring this up today because I’ve witnessed quite a few examples recently of what I term leadership and it made me consider what type of leader I am and more importantly, what type of leader do I intend to become.  I’ve been fortunate over the years to have been associated with some great leadership, both career wise and in my personal life.  I’ve also witnessed the other side of the coin as well.  Those individuals that think that a title makes them a leader and they relish the fact that you need to answer to them.  Most of that type lead through one emotion, and it’s one of the most powerful emotions that most of us have – fear!  Big problem there though, fear will only motivate us for so long, and those that lead by it eventually get pushed out the door.  Then, there are those that lead by example.  This is a very admirable trait to show your team that I’m not asking you to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.  This attitude inspires loyalty and usually has a positive outcome.  My only issue here is is that really the job of the leader??  A good leader is not doing the job of their troops because they are lazy, they are not doing it because they have their own job to do which usually entails creating and supplying the vision for the team to follow into the future.  So, answering the question of whether or not someone is a great leader might not be as easy as it sounds.  Personally, for me, a great leader inspires those that follow them and always has the best interests of their team at heart.  I’ve seen that type of leadership and it has never failed to draw me in.  The real leader is making sure that you grow, whether it is in your career, or in life.  They understand that by their team succeeding, it is the natural conclusion that they will succeed as well.  In addition, and perhaps most important, the real leader feels the need and obligation to give back.  They understand that they have been blessed with abilities and they need to use those abilities to help the greater good.  They also believe that the more they give, the more they get in return, so it is not a chore, but a pleasure to share their gifts with the masses.  I’m not going to get into details, but I recently had three such encounters with individuals that I had asked to spend time with.  None of the three were going to directly benefit from the conversations they had with me, but all of them took time out of their schedule and spent time with me just because I had asked.  For me, these encounters were invaluable, but I have to think that because of my enthusiasm and appreciation, it filled a need for them as well.  They understand Give More, Get More!  You can’t have one without the other!  Best to you all………Tony

Week 5 MKMMA – Who Asked for My Opinion Anyway???

Some of you reading this might know me well and others might not know me at all, but I’m usually never shy about giving my opinion.  Put a couple of red bull and vodkas in me and I can basically tell you everything you NEVER wanted to know!  Peace in the Middle East – done!  How to control traffic at rush hour – no problem!  Which Italian restaurant makes the best veal parmesan – forgetaboutit!  And whatever you do, don’t ever bring up the Eagles.  If you do, I will give you the breakdown of my simple 32 point plan that will have the Eagles winning the Super Bowl within 3 years of the day they make me the General Manager!  Of course, all of these would be my opinions, which by definition, have no facts attached to them whatsoever.  I’m sure that most of you would agree that you are to some degree the same way.  We all have our thoughts and feelings and like to express them when given the opportunity.  The person you are talking to might agree with you, or most likely that person might have a different view on the subject.  These discussions could end up being a healthy debate where both sides listen and understand the other point of view, or they can instigate a barroom brawl!  The nerve of that guy not agreeing with me that Reggie Jackson was the greatest Yankee ever to wear the pinstripes…..he got what was coming to him!  Of course, I’m joking.  My point is – do our opinions really matter???  How does your life benefit whether I agree with you or not?  Is your intelligence really being challenged because someone else has a different point of view?  The answer is no – it’s not.  Reason I’m on this topic is because my assignment this week was to not give any opinions to anyone on any subject.  I am also to do my best to not think about any opinions as well.  Obviously, this is very challenging.  I usually spend most of my day thinking about how smart I am! 🙂  The logic behind this is to detach myself from my old ways of thinking.  By allowing myself to not waste my energy on things that are not controllable, I will enable my mind to be more observant and creative with the matters that I can control.  Whether this works or not, I will find out, but I’m being told I will also experience great amounts of energy because we can’t even imagine how much energy we constantly use forming these opinions.  How difficult is this??  First question I got on Monday morning was from a colleague asking me how I thought the Eagles played the night before in a loss to the Carolina Panthers??  I opened my mouth to unleash the rant that usually accompanies that question, then I remembered the assignment.  With a red face and gritted teeth, I responded, “I enjoyed the game, we’ll get em next time.”  So, in other words, it is extremely difficult!  I did have a big smile on my face though after I passed my first test.  So, for those of you out there that rely on my pearls of wisdom to get you through the week, I’m sorry but I’m not going to be able to help you for the foreseeable future.  I better stay away from those damn red bull and vodkas!  Best to you all……..Tony