Mixed Victories

This week I read the news that three aircraft missing for 76 years have been found by a nonprofit that does this kind of work. The 3 planes from WW2 were lost fighting in the western Pacific in February of 1944, and their families have been wondering ever since. It’s exciting news because another of the many mysteries in the world have been solved, and it’s a victory for the families to finally know where their loved ones have rested for many years. But as the article reminded, it’s such a bittersweet victory because yes something that has been missing has been found, but it’s the grave for these 7 crew members.

I’m a big Titanic fan (not the movie, the boat) and that’s one of the things that the people who found the Titanic have always talked about in the interviews they’ve done and is seen in the film from the day the found the ship: that parallel with the excitement of finding the boat that had been lost, is the fact that they just found the grave of more than 1,500 people. It’s a very sobering reality and difficult work to be in.

Sometimes this is the way victories are. It doesn’t make the achievement any less of a victory, and in some cases it becomes a more important victory because of the tragedy or sadness or struggle surrounding it and the peace and/or knowledge you’re able to share with someone. It’s not easy doing the work of investigating crimes, looking for lost and possibly deceased bodies, or searching for lost ships and planes, but all of those people play an important role in our world, one that shouldn’t be taken for granted or disregarded.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes, how many teams have to work on it, if there’s some pain involved, or the resource cost, some victories are just worth it. And when it comes to getting answers for those who don’t have them, those victories are worth working on a little harder and longer. As you consider your victories and the work you’re doing this week, I encourage you to think about the bigger picture and all the lives that you can positively impact through what you’re doing, and the contribution you can make to the world. It may not seem big like finding a lost ship or plane, but to someone it might be the world.

Reality Reflection: Shock, Teamwork and Patience

2020 has been a crazy year so far, and we’re a long way from being done with this year or the virus that’s upset so many of our lives in the US and around the world. I won’t rehash what we’ve been saying for a month now, but the fact is that since this isn’t something most of us have ever experienced before, and we all felt some level of shock over the fast turn of events provided by this virus. They don’t talk about shock in the well-known 5 stages of grief, and yet as much as many of us have grieved over the changes that we’ve experienced, I think shock is the primary emotion that people have felt. Sure, there’s a lot of anger, sadness, confusion, frustration and some of us have found some joy as well, which means it’s been an emotional couple of months, and that’s likely to continue as long as this virus is part of our lives.

We’ve seen the mixed opinions from around the world as people want everyone to stay home longer or think no one should be home or wear masks, and it really doesn’t matter which side you’re on, because life does have to resume at some point, and most of us can’t wait forever (we’re not independently wealthy or resourced enough to). Knowing that life has to resume at some point in time, as much fun and as educational as this time has been, there are two things that are important to keep in the forefront of our lives as we move forward. First is that as you’ve probably heard said on the TV, we’re all in this together. If we’re really all in this together, that means that we should be working together with give and take and lots of communication to get through this. Second, is to be patient with each other.

Both of these are things that many of us have struggled with for years, and it turns out they’re things that we should think of for more than just this virus, too. As much as I would like to return to my life as quickly as possible now that the shock has largely worn off, the reality is that it’s more important than ever to think about others and to be patient with each other as we deal with the myriad of challenges that the virus has created and will continue to create. Hopefully we’ll find that what we’ve learned through this virus about working together and being patient will be lasting lessons.

Progress Over Perfection

Today is Earth Day! I have mixed emotions about Earth Day, I wish we didn’t need to have it for the purpose of raising awareness of the damages that are happening to the world as a result of our actions (conscious or unconscious). I wish instead it could be a day that we all celebrate and get out in nature, planting trees or caring for nature because it’s how we honor the Earth, and not to make up for anything. But we’re a long way off from just being able to celebrate our natural world and not have to really motivate or remind people to care for it. As long as we’re on this earth we will need to be conscious about how we live and the impact we’re making on the world, but I hope that one day we get to the place where it’s natural and normal for us to do good for the earth.

As I was thinking about Earth Day and the planet that we all share I was reading an article about someone who struggles with depression, something that I and many others have experience with. One of the tools that this woman talked about using was the concept of progress over perfection to help stay balanced and not get as overwhelmed or overtaken by her depression. Personally I love the concept of progress over perfection for many aspects of life and creating victories. Perfection has a place, but more often than not working on progress is better than striving for perfection. Why? For one perfection is hard to attain in most cases and not worth the effort. Striving to do an excellent or very good job is usually more than sufficient and putting in the extra effort to strive for perfection usually isn’t worth it.

As much as I dislike that Earth Day still has to be a serious call to action day, I am excited and thankful that we are making progress, more people than ever are aware of the need to take care of the earth and simple things we can do to care for the earth, and we’re consistently seeing that the teamwork and science are helping more species and natural spaces recover and thrive. Persistence is paying off, and with more patience and consistent effort we’ll hopefully see more green spaces, more animals and other species thriving, learn how to live together better, and make more victories for ourselves and our world.

Reality Reflection: The Gift of Life

It’s not a unique story, many people over the last few months have uttered these words: recently someone I had great respect for died. This author didn’t have the virus from what I could figure out, but rather lost her fight with cancer. I was looking into something else and happened upon news that she had died and I was surprised because I hadn’t heard of it, but I guess in this time of great confusion and concern, what might be news gets less attention.

But as I thought more about her many books that I have on my physical and virtual shelves, the more I appreciated the work that she did and effort she made even while struggling with cancer. I know that physical challenges and illnesses can negatively impact the work we’re able to do. I know several other authors and other people who have experienced career setbacks or struggles because of illnesses or necessary surgeries, and right now many people are struggling to do their daily activities because life is turned upside-down by this virus. So the more I thought about her life and the work that she did for many years, the more impressed I am that she was able to consistently write excellent re-readable books throughout her whole life. It makes her loss more tragic in some ways because she’s no longer able to contribute her writing abilities to the world.

Sometimes we do have to take a step back from life, we need to do less or aren’t able to do work of the quality and caliber that we usually do. But that shouldn’t be how we live our lives if given a choice. We just celebrated Easter, so for example, could you imagine if Jesus decided to only live up to a portion of His capabilities while here on Earth? What if He decided one day He wasn’t going to heal someone who asked or wasn’t going to teach? I’m not saying that we have to give 100% or 110% every day, all day, just that many of us can do better.

I hate that we’re experiencing this virus as a world, but hopefully through this virus enough of us learn and apply some really valuable lessons to our lives and our future and our planet (thinking about Earth Day this week). It’s together that we’re working to beat this virus, and it’s together, by combining each of our unique talents and skills, that we’ll make the world a better place.

“You won’t always have the luxury of a second chance. So be careful with your first one.” Donna Kauffman

We Are United

Unity. It’s an interesting word, one that we’re seeing a completely different side of with the virus and connected health issues that’s sweeping the globe. Unity is often something that’s celebrated, and appreciated, but this is a unity we haven’t seen since 2001 when the 9/11 attacks happened, although we have seen it throughout the intervening years with various mass casualties and natural disasters less significant levels. What this has really reminded me is that we’re a lot more alike than some of us may want to admit.

This virus hasn’t respected a country or a nationality or a culture or a job description, it’s around the world in people of all ages, all job statuses, all backgrounds, and all levels of celebrity. It has united all of us with a common thread that can’t be denied, and yet instead of being able to celebrate that we are more similar than we may have thought or been willing to admit, it’s forcing us to keep our distance to stop/slow the spread. The only way we can beat this is if we work together as a world to find answers, direction, and support for moving forward.

There’s no clear cut answer to where we go from here, but my hope is that first and foremost, we remember how this virus united us and showed us how similar we are, and not how it destroyed our lives for however long it sticks around. Second, I do think it’s smart to take a cautionary take from this virus, since we’ve learned how similar we are, that we should be more sensitive toward and considerate of each other, both with how we live our lives and the general health practices we should do more regularly.

While it’s not appropriate at this time to gather together to encourage each other, we can use the internet and social media to share words of encouragement, strength and hope. Whatever the future holds, it’s up to us to use whatever tools we have to make a difference, show others that we care, and help each other through this time.

United by Destiny

One of the ways that we can create more victories in our lives and in the world is by working together. For some this is a large challenge, because they’re more independent and often do their best work alone. I totally understand, because I prefer to do a lot on my own rather than working with others. But as I’ve said before, we weren’t created to be alone, we were created to live with others, not to mention that most of us wouldn’t survive without the others who contribute with things like food or gas or home construction.

But there’s a big difference between needing someone to contribute to (your) lifestyle or make the world work better, and giving everyone a voice and everyone thriving. And, as has become more evident over the past few decades what one person or business does greatly affects the other people living on the planet, not to mention the natural resources and animals of the planet as well. Destruction of natural resources without any replacement or sustainability plan brings us closer to systematic failure of life as we know it. So it’s important that we learn how to work together.

Therein comes the challenge often though, is that we don’t want to work with everyone, and we don’t like everyone, and we don’t work well with everyone. If you can get along with everyone on some level, great, but that’s not the reality for most people. So what if instead of worrying over the need to work with everyone to make the world a better place, you worked with the people you work best with and let others work with those they work best with? The great thing about being so connected and so diverse is that we’ve got lots of people and ways to connect and make the world not only more sustainable, but help everyone thrive. There’s no way you could do everything to save the world, so why not focus and let your individuality and uniqueness and passions work for you, and let others do the same?

Maybe by doing our own parts and making our own networks, as we connect those networks together, maybe even relying on the theory of the 6 degrees of separation, we’ll finally be able to achieve a more consistent level of peace and unity.

“We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Songs of the Season: Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Today I want to talk about one of my partner’s favorite Christmas characters and the story shared through the song Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The song tells the story of a reindeer with a red nose who was teased for having one because all the other reindeer had regular dark colored noses, how fog created a dangerous flying situation for Santa on Christmas Eve, causing Santa to ask Rudolph to lead the way so they could see and deliver all the presents to kids for Christmas, and being a true leader Rudolph stepped up and led the way and saved Christmas.

One of the biggest reasons people love the song is because it’s about victories for the underdog, for the weird ones, for those who are different.  I don’t know too many people who haven’t been bullied at some point in their life or felt different and like they couldn’t compare to others.  Sometimes our harshest critic is ourselves, but often that rejection or questioning starts with what someone else says or does.  It’s sometimes hard to accept what’s different about you as something good, but as Rudolph showed, it’s being different that can make the biggest impact or be exactly what’s right in a situation.

It’s also a song about teamwork. Most of us have worked with a team in our years in school or work that has been less than awesome or supportive. It wasn’t an easy experience and you may have been downright excited to be done and not work with that group going forward. I can’t imagine Rudolph was excited to work Christmas Eve with the other reindeer, at least not until they showed him that they were accepting of him being part of the team, that he was a valuable asset for the team, and that he was welcome with his red nose. Rudolph had to have the courage to be open to accepting their change of heart and trying to work with those who he hadn’t gotten along with, or his hurt could have ruined Christmas for all those children.

This Christmas I encourage you to embrace what’s unique and special about you. After all, that’s what the Christmas stories are about: both Santa and Jesus bring something to the table that the rest of us can’t and don’t. And if you’ve got a relationship that needs some work, I encourage you to step up and try to make your part in it right so that you can hopefully move forward better together. Life is too short to let our differences keep us apart or for us to let things that should be fixable to cause permanent division. Choose to celebrate together this holiday season and work together to make victories happen for those you love.

Reality Reflections: Celebrating Veterans

This month is all about being thankful, and today I’m thankful for all of the ads I’ve heard over the past few days, signs I’ve seen, notes posted online, and stories I’ve heard shared about veterans, and the companies and people who are stepping up to support them and their families. Every year it seems like more companies are recognizing that not only is it good business to share that you support veterans, it’s also good for morale within your company, your community and your country. They’re absolutely right that it’s good business and good for morale, but it’s also a reminder that companies have a choice to make about how they lead, and choosing to lead by supporting veterans is a great way to lead.

As people and customers, we too have a choice in who we do business with, who we donate to and how or if we participate in supporting the people around us that we share this world with. Everyone has a need of one kind or another, all of us have basic human needs to be met, and on top of those needs some people have needs because they’ve screwed up in life or have made bad decisions, others have needs because they’ve been dealt a bad hand in life, and others like our veterans may need help because of the sacrifices they’ve made.

So yes, today and every day I’m thankful for our veterans.  I’m also thankful that I’m able to personally support organizations that support veterans, thankful that I’m one of the businesses that supports veterans, and thankful for all the ways businesses are stepping up to not only support but also recognize and celebrate our veterans. Some veterans say that they are who they are and did/do what they did and don’t feel a need to be recognized, but everyone needs to be recognized when they do the right thing, do the brave thing, or put their lives on the line, so make sure you find a way to give back or thank a veteran this weekend.

Reality Reflection: Fighting Injustice

I believe that we’re capable of making the world into a better place and we’re also capable of destroying it. It’s a choice we have to make each day with our words and actions. We may not see the impact our individual actions have on the world at all times, but you can be sure that they are having an impact.

This past week I was paging through stations on the radio and caught the end of an interview on Z100 with Laura and Vanessa Marano who have a movie out on the topic of human trafficking, which is a bigger issue than we would believe. It’s not something that happens only in books, it happens in real life as well, in fact it’s a billion dollar industry.

If you want to listen to just the interview with the ladies you can watch it here, but the part I caught was about 85 minutes into this podcast of the whole morning show that day, talking about the topic of trafficking and about the publicity it doesn’t get. This portion of the show wrapped with the hosts raising the question of why it’s not something people talk about, how uncomfortable it makes some people, how some people in power shut down all talk on subjects like this, and the importance and responsibility of organizations and groups like this radio show who have tons of publicity to, as one senior executive producer said, talk about tough topics even if it makes some listeners turn off the station.  Because for every listener that doesn’t change the channel, it’s one more person who’s hearing the message and maybe able to do something to help.

Unfortunately there are still injustices happening in the world on a daily basis. We’ve not beat the monster at the game yet. We’re doing better in many respects because of social media and the ability to spread the word with less censure from those who would try to use their power or resource to hinder and hide. The first way we can fight human trafficking, help veterans, fight substance abuse, fight race discrimination and the other issues that keep parents and partners and countless others up at night is if we speak up and let people know it’s not acceptable and we’re not going to be quiet about it. From there we have to start making changes so that fewer people are hurt or taken or profiled unfairly and incorrectly or dismissed. It won’t happen in one day, but with tenacity we’ll be able to make an impact.

What causes are close to your heart and you support?

You Are Enough

An acquaintance of mine was let go of at her job recently. It’s always hard to hear when that happens, even if you’re not really close with a person because almost all of us need the work (and paycheck) to live. I know her well enough to know that she and her boss are both strong personalities and she had struggled with some issues in the past regarding the job and her boss, so while it’s not a timely event, I wasn’t greatly surprised that it happened, it was just a lot sooner than I thought it might happen.

In processing this event the topic of ‘enough’ came up. It’s a topic we all contemplate from time to time: Am I doing enough at work? Am I doing enough at home? Am I doing enough with my partner? Where am I/we going to find enough hours in the day for all of this? Will I/we ever have enough time? Doesn’t the world have enough content and blogs and people selling this thing already? Will I/we ever have enough resources? Am I enough?

It’s a touchy subject but one that I think needs consideration on all aspects. Let’s start with the last question. I believe that each of us are sufficient for the calling we have on our lives. I don’t believe we have to be anyone else, nor should we try to be. It’s when we try to do more than we’re capable of or asked to do that we tend to trip ourselves up. As far as the other questions, yes, we each do have a responsibility to contribute to the best of our ability each and every day to all parts of our lives.

But we also have to consider the contribution that others are putting forth and if they’re not doing their part. You can encourage them to contribute more or explain how you’re feeling or talk with them about renegotiating expectations, but if they don’t want to live up to their responsibility that’s ultimately their issue. Unfortunately sometimes the rest of us get caught up in that though, and sometimes it comes down to the fact that you can only do your part and leave it at that.

So what if you’re the one who’s not enough? Start by making a serious list of your responsibilities, what your priorities are (how you’re focusing your time), contributions on a daily basis, and areas where you’re consistently struggling. If the things you’re focusing on aren’t lining up with what other people are sharing, then either you need to re-prioritize, or you need to have a discussion with them and make changes.

What about you? What have you been really successful in this week? What areas have you struggled in? How will you finish this week strong?