Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Will the World Know You Were Here?

What mark are you leaving on the world? Have you made much of a difference? What kind of difference is it? Are you satisfied with that mark? Or are you still working toward that mark?

At my age I often contemplate my mark on the world. I'd say my mark is mostly positive because I have worked toward that. It is my ultimate goal. But I haven't always considered that. I guess because I am closer to death than to birth, by a long margin, it is something I'm more aware of. I do, though, wonder if otheres think about the mark they will leave on the world.

Depending on your age, I suppose, you may or may not often think of your death. And I don't mean that I dwell on how or when I will die. But I do think about what I will leave behind. Have I said or done something that impacted someone enough to change their life in a positive way?

I think I probably have. I worked as a mental health counselor in the State prison system and have had many meaningful exchanges with men who have lost their way. I have seen then look at themselves in a new way. I have seen them change what they believe. It has been heartening for me to know that sometimes I have made a difference in their lives.

I have done a lot of volunteer work and helped many causes through church and civic groups. While that work is usually another degree of separation, not so much individual to individual, I know that it has made a difference in some lives. I led programs to build houses in Haiti after it was devastated, to replace firefighter equipment after Hurricane wiped out a station house on the East Coast, to make dresses and shorts for children in Africa and Honduras, to help elderly poor in our city to clear their yards to avoid city violations, to provide new Christmas gifts to 200 unsheltered homeless in our city. Most of all those folks never knew my name and all of that brings me joy.

Obviously my children and grandchildren have been part of me trying to be a good role model. They have made their mark on me, that's for sure. And I hope my being in their world has made it better somehow.

What about you? Will the world know you were here? What mark have you made on the world? Please share.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Characteristics of a Good Leader

Most good leaders leverage at least some of these characteristics.

  • Honesty: “As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” - John Whittier 
It is important to stick to the truth so that you have less to remember! Seriously, though, trust is important. Without trust your leadership will be weak and people will not follow for long, especially after they see your dishonesty.

  • Ability to delegate: “Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.” - SEAL Team saying 
You are not really leading if you try to do everything yourself. You want people to participate in achieving your goal, and to do that they will need to have a role in the process. Delegate others to take on some responsibility.

  • Communication:   “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” - Ernest Hemingway
Good communication is vital for a leader. You must be able to listen to all those concerned in your process. It will help you make the best choices.

  • Sense of humor: “A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless.” - Charles de Gaulle
A sense of humor will keep you sane. There will always be "bumps in the road" and keeping your mood light will help your followers to endure the bumps as well as celebrate the successes. And, as de Gaulle said, you want to keep some surprises to keep folks excited about the work.

  • Confidence: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” - Ben Franklin 
Have confidence in yourself and in your goals. Be confident about the changes you are creating. And trust yourself to know when you are finished. There may or may not be a "finish" to chaning the world to make it better. But be aware of what is needed and confidently lead on.

  • Commitment: “The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.” - Steve Jobs
To be a truly effective leader you need to be in it for the long haul. Your commitment must be based on your compassion for the goal. You must love what you do, even when it gets hard or messy, to make a lasting difference.

  • Positive attitude: “I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” - Oprah Winfrey
Believe in yourself and in the goal that you are working for. Believe in your plan and your process. Even when things seem to be getting nowhere, believe that you can make a positive difference. Always see the glass as half full with faith that you can add enough to fill the glass and reach your goal.

  • Creativity: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” - Charles Swindoll 
Life happens. It brings challenges. And as leader it is up to you to come up with solutions to problems. Creative problem solving will get you through the challenges. This is when you need to listen to others and to delegate where appropriate. Problem solving is an intagral part of leadership.

  • Ability to inspire:  “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” - Robert McAfee
Folks will be inspired by your attitude and your story of why your goal is something you are passionate about. Gather stories from others as well. Bring ideas to life in stories.

  • Intuition: “Less isn’t more; just enough is more.” - Milton Glaser 
Your intuition will guide you if you learn to listen to it and have confidence in it. the human brain is amazing. And intuition is part of that amazing organ. When you "just know" something, go with it. As you exercise intuition it will strengthen and lead you in what comes next. Know when you have enough.

  • Above all else, treat others as you’d like to be treated: “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” - Gilbert Chesterton 
People like to be appreciated. Express your gratitude generously. Make your expression specific and honest. You will gain trust and faithful followers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

To Make the World a Better Place, Be a Leader!

There are many definitions of "leader". But not all of them fit if you are wanting to create real change, positive change. One definition is that a leader is someone who has followers. Broad and literal and doesn't involve a plan and a goal. You can call fans "followers", but  having fans doesn't give the fan any power or plan to follow to achieve a positive goal.
You may be a "fan" of social justice or of saving the environment. But until you influence others to act toward achieving those goals, not a whole lot will change, at lease as a result of your concern.
So what does it mean to lead? What is leadership? According to Kevin Kruse*, creator of an eLearning program for managers, and author of Employee Engagement 2.0, it is "the process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal."
He points out that the key elements of this definition are:
  • Leadership stems from social influence, not authority or power
  • Leadership requires others, and that implies they don’t need to be “direct reports”
  • No mention of personality traits, attributes, or even a title; there are many styles, many paths, to effective leadership
  • It includes a goal, not influence with no intended outcome
Does this sound to lofty an ideal for you? It's not really. You can use it to achieve even less lofty, more mundane goals. You probably use it every day to achieve family goals or community goals. The idea here is to use it to achieve goals that make the world better, even the world where you live and work.

Identify your goal and determine who and how you want to work toward the goal with you. It doesn't matter what style of leadership that fits you. The important thing is the goal.

In my next post I'll look at what makes a good leader.

*Kevin Kruse is the creator of the Leading for Employee Engagement eLearning program for managers. and author of the bestselling book, Employee Engagement 2.0.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

I'm Gonna Cop a Cattitude.

I've been writing about how to become a better person in order to create a better world. I suggest that getting a cat might do that! What can having a cat do for you?

Cats can help keep humor in your life. They can make you laugh or smile at their antics, especially kittens. Kittens are learning how to use their bodies to traverse their world. They can end up in the funniest places. Adult cats also try this, and their fails can be very funny. So get a cat to make you smile.

Cats can help you socially. They can make great ice breakers, especially if you don't have kids. Everyone love a good story about your cat or your kid. And those silly cat videos on the internet create bonds between people. When my kids were little, meeting new people was easier because we could talk about our kids. But when the kids are grown and gone, there are fewer cute stories. So get a cat.

Cats can develop your creativity. Cats find fun in all kinds of places. The love empty boxes, a laser pointer to chase, a catnip filled mouse or pocket, or anything tied to a string. Currently our cat's favorite toy is a plastic wand with a string on the end that was fastened to a jingle bell and four little feathers. The feathers are long gone, but she will chase that bell back and forth and in circles for longer than you want. I wear out after watching her do gymnastics chasing it for half an hour.
Cats help you play, which is the basis of creativity. So, get a cat.

Cats help us relax. Did you know that cuddling with your cat is actually good for yourhealth? HABRI, the Human Animal Bond Research initiative, has lots of research that indicates talking to or petting your pet has a positive, physical effect on people, lowers blood pressure, pulse rate, and breathing. That purr is good for you. So, get a cat.

Cats can offer unconcitional love, and invoke it from you. Learning to love unconditionally can certainly change the world, one person at a time. When you come home at the end of your day, having your cat happy to see you, rubbing and wanting rubbed, kneading you when you cuddle, can make your day better. And no matter what your cat has managed to get into, knocking things off surfaces, spilling their water, leaving hair on your chair while youve been gone, we really can't stay mad at our furry friend long. Your cat love you and you love it back. Spread the love. Get a cat.

However, I strongly recommend you get your pet from a reputable cat shelter where they certify the health of the cat, make sure it has it's immunazations, and is spayed or neutered before you can take it home. Unless you are becomming a breeder, be sure your cat is unable to create unwanted cats that are left to fend for themselves. And your cats need vacinnations against rabies and feline anemia. This protects your cat and any other cat it may come in contact with. So, get a cat and become a responsible pet owner.

It will make you a better person and you will make the world a better place.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Forgive and Forget? No.

Merriam Webster defines "forgive" as a transitive verb. "to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) PARDON" i.e. "forgive one's enemies"

The definition of forgive says nothing about forgetting the offense. Nor does it suggest that you do it to benefit the other person. To forgive frees you from resentment and anger. It benefits you to make you life easier, better, freer.

Forgetting the offense would not be useful. If you forgot it happened, how would you prevent it happening again in the future? Every experience gives us information to us in determining how to make your way with people, how to evaluate situations, etc. No, don't forget.

But do let go of the feelings that may still linger when you remember the event. Forgiveness enables you to clear the slate with people and move on. 

When a community, or group, or country, etc., harbors resentment against another, there is very little trust that can be built. And behavior choices are more likely to be made on the basis of feelings than on fact. How many wars and acts of violence between groups would be avoided if true forgiveness had occurred? 

Forgive others, whether they know it or not. Forgive others, whether they even care or not. Do it for your betterment and to make the world better.

Resolve conflicts peacefully and learn from the experience. Keep your old emotions out of future situations. Let the resentment go.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

No Joke! Seriously, Humor Will Make You Better, The World, Too!

Humor is an important tratit to make  ourselves and the world better. These days it can be difficult to maintain a sense of humor. But we must cultevate it for our own good and the good of the world around us.
Check out what Hope Speak had to say about it.:

The importance of sense of humor

It is said that sense of humor is one of the most important human qualities. Humor is not only good for your health physically and emotionally, but it also reinforces your relationships with your family, your friends and your coworkers.
First of all, humor is good for your physical health. Some research shows that laughter can improve your resistance to diseases by declining the stress hormones and increasing infection-fighting antibodies in your body. Besides, laughter can ease the physical tension­ and help your muscles to relax. It is not exaggerated to say that laughter is the best medicine for your body.
Moreover, having a good sense of humor helps you to stay healthy emotionally. Humor helps you to release stress and to keep an optimistic attitude. When you feel anxious or sad, good laughter can lighten your mood. The positive feelings you get when laughing will increase energy for your brain and your body. Thus, you will be able to stay more focus and look at the problems in your life from less frightening perspectives. Life always brings challenges that make you feel overwhelmed. In those cases, a good laughter can help you to overcome all those obstacles and makes your life more enjoyable.
Laughter helps you to stay emotionally healthy. 
Last but not least, humor helps to strengthen your relationships. First, friendly appearance with a bright smile on your face and a good sense of humor allow you to make good first impression with other people. Also, humor communication boosts the emotional connection that will bring people closer together and increases happiness. In addition, humor is an effective cure for disagreements, angers and hurts. During the difficult time in your relationship, sharing a hearted laughter will be enough to bridge the gap and fill the crack.
In conclusion, sense of humor is truly important in human life. Laughter brings many benefits including good physical health, positive emotions and relationships with other people. One essential point is that you should always remember to keep your smile, your humor and your optimism even during the hardest time of your life.
Featured image source:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Please and Thank You

Politeness. How does this help make you a better person and a better world?

Interesting that this virtue is part of being better. We Americans have a reputation of not being polite. I suppose it is because we ae so invested in being independent. We end up separated from others if we forget to be attentive to those around us. This separation can be why we aren't aware of the needs and desires of others, and therefore behave more selfishly, less patient, and without empathy.

Politeness is a behavior that can be chosen for different reasons, which is why many people are suspicious of polite behavior. Courteousness can be used to mask dislike, even hatred. Sometimes it is only a mask that people wear.

But for the better person it must be chosen because they truly care about other people and about how they are shown respect by politeness. Behavior that creates defensiveness only leads to greater separation and misunderstanding.

So, you can see how it can be a virtue of a good person, of a way to work through conflicting ideas between countries. And if you want to know how to be more polite, check out the video from YouTube below.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Perhaps the Least Popular Trait to Becoming a Better Person and Create a Better World

Sacrafice: to give up something that you want to keep, especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone. 

Most of us aren't good at sacrafice. Yet it is something we admire. We admire those military servicepersons for their sacrafice of time with their family, risk to their well-being, giving of their lives. We admire first responders for their sacrafices in the line of duty. 

However, many of us make small sacrafices for our loved ones. We give up time to earn a living to support family. We give up money for good causes. But is that truly a sacrafice? 

Yes, for some people their jobs are dangerous or really physically demanding. But do you do that to make your own life better? Or is it only for the support of someone else? And when you give money to charity, how much of a scrafice is it? 

When I was working, I did it to support myself and to feel fullfilled. Of course, at that point I was single and my kids were on their own. So only when I got too ill to work, and worked anyway, was it a sacrifice? But it was still a sacrifice for myself. I gave up something that I wanted to keep, my time and health, to get somtheing for myself. So not a true sacrifice. 

And, while I give a lot of my money to charity, I still live comfortably. I could always use that money for something else, but it isn't truly a sacrifice. I don't know that my ability/willingness to sacrifice has ever be tested. I'd like to think I would sacrifice for the people I care about, even for people I don't know personallly. But I don't think I've ever needed too.

This sounds like white privelige to me. Even though I am retired and on a fixed income, I have everything I actually need and a lot of what I want. What would I sacrifice for something I really care about - like saving our country's democracy or providing shelter for the homeless or making a significant difference in the lives of Native Americans living in poverty on reservations? 

Do I have the courage to make a significant difference in the world? I tell myself it isn't possible for me to do any of those things on my own. While that is true there must be things I can do with others to make them possible. So, I'm asking myself, "What would I need to do to make that difference?"

I'm not sure. But I imagine it is something outside my comfort zone or I would already be doing it. I have gone to rallys and protests, none of them really dangerous. I post my opinions on social media and sometimes people don't like what I post. And while that is emotionally uncomfortable, it isn't risky. I collect and send money to supply Native American elderly with things that make their winters easier and to provide school supplies to their children living in poverty. I make hats for the homeless and for newborns. I crochet sleeping mats for the unsheltered homeless from plastic grocery bags. I collect food and other items for the unsheltered homeless and deliver it to the folks who disperse it to people living on the streets or homeless camps. None of that is a sacrifice, really.

So, what do I need to do to make a significant difference in the world, to create a better world? What do you need to do? How are you making a difference? 

I believe that joining with others for a cause is powerful and can create a better world. What cause do/will you want to add your power to make a difference?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

This Virtue Can Be A Tough One These Days!

Patience is often in short supply in this culture of instant this and hurry that. If something takes a minute longer than we want we get anxious and, often, angry. Waiting is an important part of life. Yet we try to rush through everything.Google defines patience like this: "the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. (Synonyms include tolerance, restraint, calmness, composure.) 

Road rage comes to mind. Americans are not a patient people, by and large. Fast food is never fast enough. We seem to think multi-tasking is the norm in everything from doing paper work on the train to driving while texting. Having patience can make your life not only calmer, but also better.

When we rush we miss the middle, we are hyper-focused on the next task that we miss the little things on the way. We forget to smile or speak kindly. Or we fail to notice what others are feeling. We fail to acknowlege others' needs. This is especially harmful in relationhips with people we care about. "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, look what I made!"  Mommy's busy, but she's not in the moment with her child.

So how does patience create a better world? Go back to the synonyms: tolerance, restraint, calmness, composure. All of these are necessary when dealing with issues between countries, corporations, and institutions. The lack of patience could put us into violence, war, and poor judgement.

How can we develop more patience? First, self-awareness. When you are becoming frustrated and impatient, ask yourself why. Is it based on some fear? Are you doing too many things at once? Are you feeling out of control? Or is it generalized anxiety? No matter what the reason, impatience may lead you the wrong way. Figuring out what makes you feel impatience will allow you to confront those thoughts and lower you impatience before it really begins. Recognize when you are being impatient and turn the situation around before it negatively affects you and those around you.

Second, recognize that time does not actually exist. It is a construct used to dictate our days. Remember this when stuck in traffic or running a few minutes behind in your daily routine. Ask yourself, "What's the worst that can happen?" And figure how you could manage that. A phonecall to say you will be a bit late can help you relax and move calmly through the day dispite the constructs of time that you can do nothing about.Third, if we are wholy focused on the end result and ignore the journey to it, we miss the moments between goals. The most important lessons are the ones we learn along the way. Look for the joy in between. Consider what you can learn from the situation that can make your life better in the future.

Fourth, when you feel the world as you know it is ending because of your lack of patience, ask yourself it the situation will really matter to you in ten years. When you are feeling frustrated or impatient, take time to remember to count your blessings why you are at it. Most things will either wait or are just not that important if you miss them.

Fifth, you have plenty of opportunities on any day to practice patience. I remember once telling someone I was praying for patience. They said that was dangerous because God would just send more times when you need it. But, really, practice using your techniques to handle impatience when, for instance, you are ina grocery store line with a slow cashier or someone in the line has lots of questions. Or practice when you are stuck in traffic and can't even move forward. Or when you are with people that tend to push your buttons the most, your loved ones. Practicing patience will make it easier to incorporate patience in all areas of your life.(from by Maria Mooney)

More patience in the world could make immense difference.