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.