Thursday, September 24, 2009

Emily's Ball

Did you see the human-interest piece about the father and daughter who attended the Phillies game? The father had been dreaming whole life about catching a fly ball. On September 15, he finally did, giving high-fives to the people sitting around him and his three-year-old daughter, Emily. He then handed the ball—a souvenir to have for all time—to Emily.

What happened next will be something Emily’s dad cherishes far more than any ball.

Emily promptly threw the ball back in the direction of the field. As the crowd let out a collective gasp, Emily looked toward her dad. Had she done something wrong?

Without a flinch, Emily’s dad gave his daughter a big hug, a huge grin across his face. Though his daughter had just tossed his prize possession, his look was of total appreciation, reveling in the spontaneity of the moment far more than regretting the lost ball.

What can be learned from this candid moment?

No matter what difficulties you might face, stay focused on the important stuff. A positive experience can be gained from any situation if you look for the positive lessons that can be learned from it. When things do not work exactly the way you expect them to, how about being like Emily’s dad? Understand what is truly important, and appreciate that. 

Most of the time, those things of importance involve people you care about and not about things you care about. In the end, the relationships you preserve can bring you farther than the material possessions you own.

Today’s Challenge:  Take a look at something in your life that you do not consider successful at the moment.  Look at what is going on and re-characterize it as a positive outcome because of the learning you gained from it.   

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Nature of Heroes

I’ve been thinking lately about the nature of the hero: the Rosa Parkses of the world, the airline pilot who last January landed the plane in the middle of the Hudson River, the men and women who are beaten down by the market, who have lost everything they owned, and who still awake each morning with a smile, committed to teaching their children that the world is a bright and benevolent place.

I’m trying to pinpoint the common denominator, and I believe I have found it: heroes do what they are supposed to do. Rosa Parks wasn’t supposed to sit in the back of that bus. The airline pilot—Captain Sully—did what he was supposed to do, and he stayed calm. Every day, men and women wake up and do what they are supposed to do for their children, and that makes them heroes.

The economic slowdown was at least in part because people were not doing what they should have been doing. Were the people who applied for mortgages they could not afford simply because of low teaser rates doing what they were supposed to do? Were the bankers who were giving those mortgages doing what they were supposed to do? Were the politicians over-seeing those banks doing what they were supposed to do?

The blame is almost endless, and it has already been well distributed.

Last year, I wrote a book: Say Hello to the Elephants: A Four-Part Process for Finding Clarity, Confronting Problems, and Moving On. The book could have been just as easily titled: Doing What We Should Be Doing: Finding Solutions and Moving On.

And now, I want to focus on this exact topic. This blog—What We Should Be Doing—is a complement to my book, with bi-weekly thoughts about what businessmen and women should be doing: working together to find ways to move past the economic slowdown, finding our problems, dealing with them, and waking up each morning to a bright and benevolent world.