Thursday, June 18, 2009

Choose Easy

We assume that hard things are better.
We want to feel like we are doing important things, and important things must be difficult.
But it isn’t always so.
We try so hard to see the answer in complicated things, that we overlook the brilliance and beauty in simple things.

I’ve sat through thousands of classes on self help and personal goals and education and self improvement. I’ve read hundreds of books on the same subjects.
Teachers and experts have very specific, sometimes difficult steps they are trying to sell to us.
I believe in learning about and strengthening the simple good that already exists within us. Most of the rest is an illusion.

Years ago I started a new job. The technology was new, the pressures enormous. There were banks of telephones and computer screens. It all seemed so important and serious.
The phones would ring, numbers were reported, calculations were made, graphs were read, and it all had to be done in a short window of time each hour. There were written procedures for every action that had to be taken. I memorized it all. I almost sat at attention in my chair.
Then I started developing my own little routines for each task. The routines focused on getting the best and most detailed information out of each call and report. I felt very important.
Then one day the calls came faster and the information being reported included emergencies. Suddenly I was scrambling and confused.
A supervisor stepped in to check on me and said something to me I’ll never forget:
“Darrell, choose easy.”
“What ?!?!” I asked over my shoulder frantically.
“Yes, choose easy. At the end of the day, no one will care about your sophisticated procedures; they will only want to know that the information is correct. You’re making the job harder than it needs to be. No one cares. Choose easy.”
I took that story to the boss, and he chuckled. My boss loved racquetball. He always had his gym bag waiting behind his office door.
“You know, I think that’s right. Choose easy. Whenever someone asks me to tell them the best way to learn racquetball, I tell them to go to the gym and find someone who’s very enthusiastic about the sport, very accomplished, and fat. A heavy guy has learned to play well with an extreme economy of movement. He’s not going to be running all over the place for his shots. He’s learned to make the fewest moves possible for the best results.”
Pretty deep. And it’s good advice.
So many of us just make a lot of noise in our efforts to do something important.
If you put a car in neutral and really give it the throttle, it will make an impressive noise. But the car won’t go anywhere.
Focus on going somewhere, and not making noise.
Choose easy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A great day with the Golden K Kiwanis club of Provo.

We talked about looking within for change and growth.
There’s a lot of wisdom and experience in this great club, and they welcomed two new members.
There were great comments and stories shared.
A beautiful day for a Kiwanis club meeting, and I know I came away richer for the experience.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Las Vegas Northwest Rotary taught me what a service club can be.

Wow. What an experience.

Last Wednesday, the 26th, I went to Las Vegas with my boys, Acey and Ethan. We arrived late (sorry, long story) at the club house at Summerlin TPC and met one of the best groups I’ve ever seen.

What a lovely place to meet. One day it would be a dream come true to actual play golf at TPC Summerlin. But speaking to this Rotary Club was just as memorable. Great attendance, gracious introduction, attentive group, thoughtful input.

We talked about the fine line between help and enabling. Sometimes when we reach out and serve someone, the result is not what we expected. No one is obligated to react in a certain way when they receive help, and we cannot expect any certain behavior or reaction to our efforts to serve.

I’m reminded of a comment someone recently made to me when I was speaking to a club. This man told me how he had tried to help a neighbor who had a truck that wasn’t running. The neighbor really needed the truck for the work that he did.
The truck needed a new engine, and this man had the connections to provide a new engine.
What great service! Providing a new engine for a truck is a big thing to do for a neighbor.
The mechanic who installed the new engine mentioned to this man that the engine had burned up because the radiator was faulty. It would need to be repaired.
So this man told his neighbor that his truck now had a new engine, but that he should take the truck immediately to a radiator shop and have the radiator repaired.

Was that too much to ask? After receiving a new engine, should this man expect the neighbor to respectfully care for the truck and have the radiator repaired?
The radiator was ignored, and the new engine was burned up in two weeks.

What’s the message here?
Reaching out to a neighbor who needs a vehicle repaired is a very good act of service.
But we CANNOT expect the recipient of that service to respond in any preconceived way.
Once we have performed the service in question, we have done all we can.
Was the service wasted?
Absolutely not.
First, the service performed changed the giver more than the receiver, and that’s the most important thing.
Second, we may never know the underlying effects on the receiver because of this service that may make a difference later on.

Give with out expecting anything in return.

Over all, a wonderful morning. Great breakfast! Beautiful setting! Strong, impressive club. And best of all, my boys got to see me do something I love so much.

Monday, May 25, 2009

You’re holding your mouth wrong.

In the spirit of this blog, consider the following fishing lesson story:

When I was twelve, I had a Boy Scout leader who was an expert fisherman. Our troop decided over the winter that we would have a week of fishing for our scout camp the following summer.

So our leader taught us all about fishing. We gathered fishing equipment until we all had very similar set ups.
Then we learned to tie flies. We spent a lot of time perfecting our flies, and learning why and how they would work and under what specific conditions.

Finally summer came and we headed out for a week in the Uintah Mountains of Utah.
We set up camp and then prepared our gear, and finally each of us took up a spot on the banks of a little nearby lake.

All of our equipment was very similar, and all the flies we had tied were very similar.

But a strange thing happened.

None of us boys were catching any fish.

Our leader, however, was having great success and was catching fish at a steady pace.
We watched our leader with growing annoyance.

What had he neglected to teach us? What was he holding back?

A few of us set down our poles and marched over to our leader and demanded that he tell us what we were doing wrong.

He surveyed the line up of boys along the shore of the little lake and chuckled.

“You’re holding your mouth wrong.”

I’ll never forget that answer.
I didn’t understand it at the time, but I’ve come to discover that each of us have talents that are difficult to explain or teach.

I believe that if we could find a way to share that special knowledge or ability that we alone possess, we could change the world.

What do you do, what do you know that is hard to explain? How could you teach it to others?

It might be hard to do, but think of the difference that it could make in our world.
No one wants to take away the thing that makes you special, we just want to understand it, so that we can learn to develop special abilities and knowledge of our own.

So, teach me how to hold my mouth.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.

My boys had a scout master who used to say this.
I’ve given this concept a lot of thought.
What exactly is the main thing?
You really have to figure that out.

What’s the main thing for the long term? What’s the main thing for the week? What’s the main thing right now?

For me this takes a little meditation.
What I like to do best is to take a drive and think about it.
What’s the main thing for my family? What do I want for each of them?
How much am I willing to let go?
What’s the main thing for me?
Holy cow, that’s a tough one!
But it’s all possible.
We can all figure out what the main thing is for any given situation or time period.
And it will require lots of honesty.

Right now, for me, the main thing is developing long term bond of love and friendship with my family. No matter what happens in this life, if I have those bonds, I’ll be alright.
Right now, for me, developing my writing and speaking careers is the main thing.
Right now, for me, minding doctor’s orders and making sure that I’m doing what’s best for my health is the main thing.

So we all figure out what the main thing is.

Then, our mantra:

“The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”

We’re diverted much to easily.
Fighting, discouragement, ego, haste, impatience.
It all makes us lose sight of the main thing.
Arguments especially can take a zig zagging course as we are filled with the temptation to win or to hurt our opponent.

What’s it all really about?

“The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”

Friday, May 15, 2009

Almost missed the Ogden Kiwanis Club.

It would have been a tragedy.
Xochil came with me again to help, and I was glad to have her with me.
Mom was stranded with a vehicle that wouldn’t start at the DATC, and we scrambled to help her. We didn’t think it would put us behind schedule, but it did. Then we chose to take the 31st Street exit in Ogden, and found ourselves in the middle of construction.
So we were late.
I hate that, and I felt very bad about it.
But the Ogden club was understanding and welcoming.
They meet at Rickenbacker’s near the Ogden Airport, and we found that it’s a really fun place.
We talked a lot about deference in the service of others. This is something I’m passionate about.
I truly believe that service without interest leaves a bad taste. Service without understanding and appreciation just doesn’t work. Service without deference is just self interest.
Now, I had more than one person tell me that they needed to look up the word ‘deference’ to be sure that they really understood it.
I do that too!
We need to look things up, find out for ourselves, make sure we really understand things. That’s the whole point.
When we explore things to make sure we really understand them, we are lead down a path of discovery that takes us to new adventures and new points of view.
We also had the Key Club with us yesterday, and I am always grateful for that.
Young people today are outstanding. If they’re taking an interest in participating in Kiwanis, you can be sure that our future is in good hands.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Quick Joke:

Oh how we wish things were as good as they used to be.

Or as easy. Or uncomplicated.

I've been taking some time off. But now it's back to work.

I'm on the verge of some new, wonderful discoveries. We're going to have some great things to talk about.

My wife and daughter are both nurses, and they tell me how honestly their patients view life and the circumstances that have befallen them. Sometimes the frankness is downright uncomfortable.

You really find out who's compassionate when you need help in the bathroom. It's useless to worry about what you used to think of as dignity when you can't bathe yourself.

So we learn to find new meanings for words like dignity and modesty and embarrassing.

And we find new ways to look at comfort, confidence, and gratitude.

Life teaches us, sometimes through great trials.

So, we're back at work. But first, a joke:

At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient's anterior chest wall.

"Big breaths," I instructed.

"Yes, they used to be," answered the patient remorsefully.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

There is no can’t.

I have a dear friend named Dan.
He is a very successful businessman, who has lived a life full of adventure, fulfillment, and achievement.
He’s the kind of guy who gets things done. Even is walk is full of purpose. He’s a tall guy, about 6 foot 3, and he makes a real impression when he walks into a room.
It’s more than just his size, it’s the attitude he projects.
He’s kind and friendly but he gets right to the point.
He’s interested in others, but he’s not afraid to point out problems.
Dan has a beautiful family, and he comes from a close family. His siblings are as successful as he is.
I’ve always admired Dan, and I’ll probably tell many more stories about him in the future here on this blog.
A few years ago, Dan invited me to attend a camping trip at the Grand Canyon with his family. He had always wanted me to meet his father. Dan’s father was seriously ill with cancer.
It was quite a trip.
One night we were settling done for the night around the campfire, and I started to ask Dan about his father.
“Your dad must have had a very successful career. He’s apparently been a great example to you.”
Dan thought for a moment.
“No, that’s not it. My father struggled at times in his career, made a few poor job choices, and didn’t really have a good education.”
I was surprised.
“But Dan, I can see that he’s had a huge impact on your life. What is it about him that has shaped your life and helped you become the success you are today.”
Dan stared at the stars for a long time.
“You’re right. My father has been the real shaping influence on my life. And I can tell you what it has been.”
“My father hates the word ‘can’t’. He’s tried so hard to raise a good family and lead a good life, that he’s just become adverse to the word.”
“He never let us use that word growing up. It actually made him angry.
We couldn’t say:
The gym teacher asked me to join the cheerleading squad, but I told him I can’t.
I’m struggling in my math class, I just can’t do it.
I was invited to a party, but I told them I can’t come.
Or ANY use of the word can’t.
He would say:
There is no can’t. There might be ‘I don’t want to’, but admit to it. The problem is ‘I don’t want to’, and not ‘I can’t’.”
There is no can’t.
I’ve thought a lot about that since that camping trip.
I’ve noticed now how often people use the word ‘can’t’ in their conversations and excuses.
Excuses? Yes. Excuses for not trying, for not accepting, for failing, for not understanding, and for not caring.
What do you think about it?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wonderful visit with the very distinguished Bonneville Kiwanis Club of Salt Lake City.

And a lovely lunch at Sizzler.

We had a very good heart to heart about discovering new things about ourselves, developing new interests and talents, and helping others find the way to the same kinds of accomplishments.

Very friendly people at the Bonneville club!

I really love Kiwanis Clubs. These clubs are out in their communities making real differences in people’s lives.

As we talked, I became aware that the experience of being a part of a Kiwanis Club makes members aware of the possibilities in their own lives.

I came away very inspired.

My own father has mentioned to me that he really wants to find something to do with his life now that has reached the age of 70.

I think he is overcome by the scope he imagines in his mind.

Just improve yourself, don’t try to conquer the world.

When I was a kid, my dad really enjoyed sketching. I’m going to the craft store right now to get him some art supplies.

I hope he will catch the vision and develop his artistic skills once again.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Okay, time for another joke

This coming week we're going to be getting some work done.

At my house spring is here and the yard needs attention.

In my family we're trying to make plans for summer vacation and household repairs.

On this blog we're going to be talking about learning to fish and teaching others to fish.

Life is all about preparation and follow through.

So take a deep breath, have a little laugh, and get ready for the coming week.

A little old lady answered a knock on the door one day, only to be confronted by a well-dressed young man carrying a vacuum cleaner.
"Good morning, " said the young man. "If I could take a couple of minutes of your time, I would like to demonstrate the very latest in high-powered vacuum cleaners."
"Go away!" said the old lady. "I haven't got any money!" and she proceeded to close the door.
Quick as a flash, the young man wedged his foot in the door and pushed wide open. "Don't be too hasty!" he said. "Not until you have at least seen my demonstration."And with that, he emptied a bucket of horse manure onto her hallway carpet.
"If this vacuum cleaner does not remove all traces of this horse manure from your carpet, Madam, I will personally eat the remainder.”
The old lady stepped back and said, "Well I hope you've got a darn good appetite, because they cut off my electricity this morning."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A rundown of our trip to New York

Some of my friends have asked me about my trip, because they know that funny things happen to me when I travel, and because they know I’m not really the type to go to New York.

So here’s a run down of our experiences while visiting New York.

First: Arriving in Dallas. Holy barf bag batman! Our pilot trained on amusement park rides.

Upon arrival we’re told that our flight to New York has been cancelled.

Rush to a flight to Chicago where there's another flight to NYC waiting for us. Julie and I can’t sit together.

I sit by a Baptist minister who was about 6 foot 5. Seats in an MD 80 are small. He ate his lunch off the guy’s head seated in front of him. We had a nice chat. He assured me that I would like New York.

We buy Big Macs in O’Hare. ComAir to New York? Looks like a fighter plane. I worry that it's going to be bumpy. But we're very comfortable. Not too many people. Clouds break as we make our approach.

New York City.


Really something to see from the air.

JFK. Intense. People here are serious.

But the young man at the exit was very nice. He told us to take the bus. We’d be crazy to pay for a taxi ride. The bus would drop us at Penn Station.

“What more do you want?” he asks me in a thick New York accent.

Very cool.

We take a taxi to our hotel.

Sheraton Towers on 51st and 7th. Nice. Dropped our bags in room 2620 and out the door to Xochi’s hotel on 50th and 8th. Hampton Inn. So good to see her. Couldn’t believe this was all happening to us.

Took a walk to Carnegie Hall to get tickets to her concert, but the box office was closed. So we walked to the Jekyll and Hyde restaurant for a fun dinner.

It was fine, it really was, except that I didn’t know that Les Paul was playing at that very moment in a club on the corner of 51st and 7th, spitting distance from our hotel. Would have been a dream come true.

After dinner we walked to Times Square. What an experience. I recommend it to everyone. Wow. We stopped in stores, wandered through the Hard Rock Café, and made plans for the rest of the trip.

Next morning, breakfast with Xochi in her hotel. GREAT!

We buy tickets on the hop off hop on tour bus. Uptown. Cool. No, I mean FREEZING. Very cold morning in New York.

Tours are VERY interesting. I want to stop at Grant’s Tomb.You see, I’ve ALWAYS wanted to see Grant’s Tomb, since in was a little kid. Learned about it in school, didn’t understand that it was in New York. And I didn’t get the joke till I was 13. (Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?) Very cool visit.

But I needed to visit the little boy’s room. There isn’t one at the Tomb. But the lady at the gift shop directs us to Riverside Church.Okay, cool.

Martin Luther King. Nelson Mandela. Good history. They’ll let me use the bathroom.

They were NOT happy to see us. Couldn’t find the mensroom. Guard un happy about my wandering. We left quickly and got on the next bus.

Harlem, brownstones, and then:

The MET!

We spent the rest of the day at the Met. WONDERFUL! I highly recommend it. I kept asking the guides: “Is this real or are theyse copies?” They hated me.

Funny thing, the experience of seeing it in real life is kind of emotional.

Xochi had tickets to the Lion King, so we dropped her off at her hotel and Julie and I wandered around Rockefeller plaza, got our tickets for Carnegie Hall, bought a hot dog (always wanted to do that) and visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral. WOW!

Picked up Xochi after the play and went to 42nd Street. WOW!

We went to BB King’s club and had dinner and listened to the Chris Phillip’s band. FANTASTIC! After the show we sat and chatted with him for a long time and made a new friend. Everybody go see him when you’re in New York!

Wednesday, over-slept. Met Xochi at Rockefeller plaza. She wanted to just relax and get ready for her concert. We understood. Julie and I visited the Top of The Rock and were thrilled.

Then we hopped the bus for downtown. Still cold, but bearable. Saw all the sites. Got off for the St. of Liberty. Didn’t understand that the last boat leaves at 3:30. It was 4:00.

Rode the Staten Island Ferry with all the disgruntled commuters and disgruntled tourists who missed the last boat.

Then we wandered around downtown and found a fun little place for pizza. Great people. Then a walk down Wall Street. More to see than I thought there would be. Saw the place where George Washington took the oath of office. Saw Trinity church, and St. Paul’s. Saw Alexander Hamilton’s grave.

Then we visited ground zero. Very emotional.

Then we got back on the bus at Wall Street and headed back to Mid Town.

ot changed and walked to Carnegie Hall.

Found our seats, looked at each other and said: “Holy Cow! This is Carnegie Hall!”

I started to get it.

Xochi needed us. She’s not a little girl anymore.

She can’t jump up and down and yell: “Hey! Look at me!”

Tennessee State played first. Wonderful.

Then a lovely lady with a thick English Accent came out and started to gush about how wonderful Weber’s Wind Ensemble is. Listed great accomplishments.

It starts to sink in.

Weber’s ensemble walks on stage. We see Xochi. She’s a VISION! Long black evening gown.

They start to play. There is an actual GASP from the audience. Wonderful! They have two numbers with soloists: An operatic soprano (unbelievable) and a Euphonium soloist (main number of the evening).

Julie and I sit and cry. We can’t believe it. After the show (and ovations) I walk down and touch the stage. I’ll certainly never get the change to perform there. Xochi has lived a dream for me, and she REALLY deserved it. The Wonderful Weber State University Wind Ensemble is the caliber of performance you’d expect at Carnegie Hall.

Pictures outside. There is a bus waiting for Xochi, but we invite her for one last walk down Broadway. Can’t believe I’m feeling sentimental about it. We visit with other members of the band when we get to Xochi’s hotel.

Then we take Xochi to Roxy’s deli in Times Square for cheesecake. Emotions are high because we realize we’re really going to miss it all.

Left at 3:00 in the morning for Newark. Never went to bed. Good plane rides home, all MD 80s.

I've Never been on a big plane.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dom Spiro Spero.

While I breathe I hope.

That has to be the bottom line to everything.

I’ve been speaking about overcoming adversity, learning to be self sufficient, and thriving. I’ve been speaking about reaching out and helping others to learn the same things.

At the base of all of it is gratitude for life itself. If you’re breathing tomorrow, your chances are wonderful. You’ll survive, you’ll endure, you’ll succeed.

Dom Spiro Spero. While I breathe I hope.

I’ve experienced this. I’ve felt it. Its been true for me.

I’ve watched it happen for people I love.

I know that teenagers tend to exaggerate, but I’ve seen this hope in the lives of my children. I’ve seen them go from the depths of worry, despair, and failure, to the heights of success and accomplishment.

Just this last week I sat in Carnegie Hall in New York City and watched my daughter perform with the wonderful Weber State University Wind Ensemble.

Tears ran down my cheeks.

I breathed, I hoped.

Her success was my success, her accomplishment was my inspiration.

Tomorrow these successes and accomplishments will increase and expand.

For me, my daughter and all those I love and teach.

Dom Spiro, Spero.

While I breathe, I hope.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What’s important to you right now?

I love this exercise.
It can really make you see the truth about yourself, and it can make you understand the truth about others.
It’s really very easy to do:
Just find someplace quiet where you can be alone.
It’s best if you sit down.
So, just sit there and think.
And ask yourself this question, OUT LOUD:

“What’s important to me right now?”

Maybe you need to use the restroom.
Maybe you’re hungry.
Maybe you’re worried about a loved one.
Maybe there’s a tune from a commercial running through your head.

Whatever it is, be honest about it, and say what it is OUT LOUD.
And sit there and think about it.

To give you an example,
I’ll go first:

Turns out that what’s important to me right now is:

My kids.

Can’t stop thinking about them.
We’ve had some thrills in our family over the last couple of weeks, or months.
My second son lettered in swimming, and he is a freshman in high school.
My first son has artistic skills that are going through the roof and his work will be featured in a gallery,
And my oldest daughter performed last week at Carnegie Hall in New York.
It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed.
Is that wrong? Is it wrong to be just a little proud? Can I brag a little? Do you all mind if I post some pictures?
I worry a little.
You see, I’m not trying to say: “Nener nener nener…”
I’m just seeing the struggles, the disappointments, and now the victories and payoffs in the lives of my children, and it makes me more happy than I could have ever expected.

But funny thing, it makes me feel a little paranoid as well.
Some people who know about these wonderful things happening in our family seem to scoff and sneer.
Why do they want to keep my kids down?
They probably don’t, and I realize it’s just all a part of this exercise.

How does this exercise help me?
Suddenly everything I want to do in life, my goals, my work, my priorities, everything has come into a new focus, and I feel revitalized and motivated.
I love how this feels, and I know in which direction I want to go.

By the way, the graphic that comes with this post is a study my son is doing for a larger project. The work was done on a scratch board.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Another Joke, and something more about me.

Okay, I said we’d have jokes here, and here’s another.
But first:
We’re also going to have some confessions here.
For example:
Today I’m going to tell you how I forget how to spell when I get excited or flustered or angry.
I’ll try to use the spell check, and I’ll try to do some editing when I find problems, but please note that I won’t be offended if you point out my spelling and gramme.. gram.. g… word order problems.
I just hope you’ll never come here and think: “What is it with this guy? Is he some kind of moron?”
Answer to that will come later.

In the mean time, laugh it up:

A woman’s husband got a little carried away and began to flirt with the gorgeous blonde playing the piano at the party. But in the course of his exploits he bumped the piano cover and it fell on his hands, so the couple had to leave early.
“Remind me to put a cold pack on your black eye when we get home,” said the wife.
“But I haven’t got a black eye,” he corrected.
“You’re not home yet,” she reminded.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What’s the best idea you ever had?

I LOVE this conversation! People tell me the best stories.

“I had this GREAT idea once!”

And they ARE great. I talk with people and they share truly great ideas that have occurred to them.

So what’s the problem? Why aren’t these people rich and famous? Why haven’t their ideas changed the world?

Well, some of them have. I meet people who have had great ideas, and they have seen their ideas come to fruition and work, just as they envisioned them. That’s fun. It’s inspiring, and it’s worth talking about.

But what about all those great ideas that never became more than just a great idea someone once had? How do we take our great ideas to the next level?

A great piece of Oak is still a great piece of Oak, even before it’s been worked into a great piece of furniture.

But that’s just a frustrating piece of nonsense if I can’t tell you how to work your idea.

Well maybe I can.

The first thing you need is feedback. Don’t worry, no one’s going to steal your idea.

Well, probably not. But statistically, no one’s going to steal your idea. But even if they do, it’s a mistake NOT to share your idea for fear of having it stolen. You need positive and negative comments about your idea from people with WORTHWHILE opinions.

Second, you need to educate yourself. Go to the library, get on the internet, and find out everything about every aspect of the idea you’ve had and the industries, trends and people it will affect.

Third, you need to brainstorm. This is different from feedback. Brainstorming is getting people involved with your idea. Getting people to invest time, effort or thought into your idea. The challenge here is for you to be open minded during the brainstorming process. Your idea might go through some changes.

And sharing? Yes, you’ll have to share your idea. Remember that your idea in many hands will have more room to grow. Would you rather have 100% of $100.00, or 10% of $1,000,000.00?

So, what’s the greatest idea you’ve ever had? Tell me about it, I’d really like to hear.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Do you know what a bore is?

A bore is someone who when you ask them how they are, actually tells you.

So this is a big part of the problem we face when we endeavor to reach out and serve others.

People tend to yammer about their problems.

Blah blah blah I was in the hospital.

Blah blah blah I lost my job.

Sometimes we can look at another person and see their problems from a unique perspective. Have your ever thought about someone you knew who was struggling, and thought that the solutions to their problems seemed so obvious?

What would you say to this person to help them? Something blunt? Something to the point?

“Stop whining.”
“Stop being stupid.”
“Stop being lazy.”
“Get out and TRY.”
“End your toxic relationships.”

Is it possible that someone else sees YOU in the same light? What could we learn if they would tell us honestly about the problems they see in our lives?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Okay, We need a periodic joke around here.

I love jokes.

That's just the way it is. I'll try to keep it clean.

People who know and love me accept the fact that I am a relentless tease.

Don't fall, falter or fail and let me find out.

I'll never let you forget it, and I'll make sure you learn from it.

Does that make me cruel? My kids say yes, I say no. I love the people I tease.

If I've ever given you a cruel nickname, written a demeaning song or limerick about you, you can be sure that I care about you.

Real things are almost ALWAYS funny. Funny is the proof that things are true, and that life goes on. That's why I LOVE jokes. So from now on, we're going to have frequent jokes on this blog.

Here's the first one:

As this man was driving down the freeway, his cell phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife's voice urgently warning him, "Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way the freeway. Please be careful!"
"It's not just one car," said Herman, "It's hundreds of them!"

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Very friendly people make up the Layton Kiwanis club.

I was enjoying myself from the moment I arrived.

I spoke to the Layton Kiwanis club on Wednesday night, March 25th. My lovely daughter Xochi joined me to help with my materials.

The Key Clubs from a couple of the high schools sponsored by the Layton Kiwanis club were present, and we talked a lot about inspiring the youth in our community. These kids were enthusiastic, and had much to contribute.

I learned that true friendliness and communication are the keys to service success. I know I personally felt enriched by meeting with these good folks.

We met at the Golden Corral in Layton, and dinner was great! We had dessert after my presentation.

I hope to reach more Key Clubs and have the opportunity to speak to youth groups.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


On a beautiful snowy Wednesday morning, I went to Logan to meet with the Logan Kiwanis club.
This is a very impressive club. They are making a big difference in their community. We talked about the possibilities of re-creating events that lead to big changes in people’s lives.
I strongly believe that it is very possible to re-create a successful experience of service. It all comes through forming habits of observing the lives of others and looking for ways to serve.
We have to be sincerely interested in the things that matter to others. We have to learn to find joy in the successes of others.
The one thing we cannot do is expect a reaction from the people we serve that comes from the way we imagine things should play out.
The people we want to serve have the freedom to reject our service, or ignore it. They might not see our service as having any value, or they may try to take advantage of our service for other reasons that may seem very petty or even wrong to us.
But this should never deter us or discourage us.
I believe that if we learn to recognize needs in others and ways to teach and lift, and if we learn to find joy in service, we will have successful experiences in service that can be repeated and re-created.
By the way, we met at the Coppermill Restaurant, which meant that lunch was fantastic.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I've found that this is truly the foundation of everything I talk about.

I guess what I believe is that if you can learn to care about yourself and what you know and how you accomplish the things you do and how you interact with people everyday,

Then you'll start to care about others.

Motives are another subject we'll talk about later.

As I've researched our little proverb:
Give a man a fish, blah blah blah, Teach a man to fish, yadda yadda yadda,

I've discovered some amazing attitudes. Some of them tickled me.

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you will not have to listen to his incessant whining about how hungry he is.”

That one kind of hits home. Is this why we reach out to lift others? So they will stop being a bother to us?

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you can sell him fishing equipment.”

Or are we creating customers and followers and admirers?

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to sell fish and he eats steak.”

How far can we take our teaching? How far do we want to take it?

Then we have to honestly ask ourselves if we are doing the right thing:

"Teach a man to fish, and you introduce another competitor into the overcrowded fishing industry. Give a man a fish, and you stimulate demand for your product"

"Sell a man a fish, and he'll eat for a dayTeach a man to fish, and you lose a wonderful business opportunity."

Then came the absolute silly viewpoints:

"Build a man a fire, warm him for one day. Set a man on fire, he'll be warm the rest of his life."

"Give a man a boil and he'll just be sore. Teach a man to boil and he'll be able to make his own tea."

"Give a man a goose, and he'll have Christmas dinner. Teach a man to goose and he'll get a slap in the face."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

You're Smarter Than You Think You Are.

This is the title of another presentation I like to give.

It all started with the word "stupid".
I'm fascinated by that word.

It's so offensive. In Mexico it's profanity.

We throw the word "stupid" around as if it were a big joke.

What do we really mean when we call someone stupid? What do we mean when we call ourselves stupid?
Is stupid a permanent condition?

I admit that I've felt stupid too many times in my life.
Now I look for ways to test my intelligence. I like to learn new things and prove to myself that I'm smarter than I thought I was.

You'd be amazed. You know more about more things than you even imagine. You have the capacity to learn and do things that would tickle you pink.

It's fun. It's like magic.

I'll share some games, tricks, and lessons you can use to feel a little smarter.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New things learned with the Murray Exchange club!

Had a GREAT morning visiting with this club.
My daughter Xochi came along to help me record our presentation on video, and she helped me with my hand outs.

The Murray Exchange club is very "Hands On" with the community in regards to service. I feel this is an important element in the change I want to help bring about in our world. Too often we are complacent with the idea of donating to a cause and letting someone else deal face to face with the people we want to serve.

I believe that the only way to really lift each other in this life is to be in actual contact with one another.

I also enjoyed very much the presentation from Dorie Olds, Director of Client Services from the Academy of Life Management here in Salt Lake. She had some wonderful thoughts on stress management.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

American Fork Rotary is a great club!

We had so many good things to talk about today, It was a learning day for me.

We met at Jim's Restaurant in Amerian Fork, which is a good thing all by itself. For those of you who haven't been to a Jim's Restaurant: Go right now. It's that good.

The American Fork Rotary club is involved in some of the best service projects I've seen. There is a great feeling in their group.

I had some great participation, and wonderful new insights and ideas on my subject matter. It makes me believe more and more that we CAN make a difference in this world.

We start with ourselves.

Nope. Truth is truth. Go with it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A little bit about my book.


I developed this program in college, and it has become a book and CDs. I am very gratified by the success of this book. People have achieved really success with their accents and pronunciation by using this program.

I've also learned a lot about goals and success and service by watching people deal with the challenges of learning to speak a second language. Dignity, understanding, and community are all things that are a big part of learning a new language.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Our family band, HOME BASE

Here's a picture of our famly band performing in Heber City.
Click to enlarge.

Wonderful day with the Kiwanis club of Brigham City.

This great club made me feel so welcome! They meet at Maddox, which was a great bonus for me.
The are involved in some wonderful projects, one of which touched me personally.
My son Ethan struggled to learn to read until the 3rd grade. He was so frightened and discouraged. My heart literally ached for him.
Then his teacher told me that she had NO worries or fears about Ethan. All he needed was a little encouragement and help.
Other kids from the school started reading with Ethan (and other children struggling like he was) and volunteers from the community read with him as well. In a short time he was caught up with the other kids in his class, and everything fell into place for him. He's a thriving, successful student now, finishing his last year of Junior High, ready for High School next year.
I can't imagine what would have happened if other opinions would have been given consideration, opinions that told us that Ethan had learning disabilities.
Thank you very much to groups like Kiwanis who help children like Ethan. You may never fully know the difference you make in our lives.

My wife mentioned to me on the way home that some people just seem to "get it". Whatever they do in life, whatever they try, whatever they do for a living, they just seem to glide along, hopping over challenges like little bumps in the road. Sometimes these people have a hard time feeling empathy for those who struggle.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Let's get started

I'm excited about my upcoming presentations, I hope we're going to have a lot of beneficial exchange here.

Feel free to post comments about the things we talk about, and be ready to share what you know with everyone here.