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Be Your Own Champion

May 31, 2020 by  
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These pandemic times have pushed me to go back and read some of my journal entries starting in February 1975 all the way to right now. My writing and the goals I logged has excited me to do more goal setting and more writing in my journals.

I have also been re-reading my blogs. I just re-read a post I wrote back in 2009 where I talked about my good friend and Olympic champion Jimmy Shea. He set goals for himself and then, with a ton of perseverance and very hard work, he won, not one, but two gold medals–one in the World Championships in 1999 and another in the winter Olympics in 2002.

I hope you will take the time to read the attached blog about Jimmy Shea and hopefully it will motivate you to make lists and set goals for yourself.

From the post “Meeting a Champion …” April 29, 2009:

This is a picture with me and Jimmy Shea Jr. He came to one of my book signings at Costco. Jimmy is an Olympic champion with quite a story. Jimmy describes his life and reaching his goals, overcoming blocks to becoming a champion:

As a youth growing up in Lake Placid, NY, Jim’s involvement in sports helped him overcome the doubt he experienced due to his battle with dyslexia. Having a severe learning disorder taught Jim the importance of perseverance and hard work, a lesson emphasized by his father and grandfather, both Winter Olympic athletes.

When Jim competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics (in the Men’s Skeleton), he became the only American to have the distinction of being a third generation Olympian. In 1932 his Grandfather, speed skater Jack Shea, became the first American to win two Winter Olympic Gold medals. In 1964 Jim’s father, Jim Shea, Sr. competed in the Nordic Combined at the Innsbruck Winter Olympics.

Jimmy also believes in giving back. He founded the Shea Family Foundation to help young Olympians in the sports he and his family have competed in for generations.

It’s great meeting people like Jimmy at book signings – thanks for coming!

 

So, while we all have tons of time, we should be putting our minds towards great goals we want to set for ourselves. We have the time to make those lists. And, as you know from reading my blog, making lists is critical to future success as is the act of writing them down. Those are great first steps to being your own champion!

Revisiting a Journey

May 24, 2020 by  
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Man oh man! Do we all have so much extra time with this crazy Covid19. I have spent a ton of time going over all my past blogs and reliving some of the stuff I talked about. In fact, I am sending you this one from Oct 14, 2008. I had such a good time back then with good ole Stein Eriksen and even though he has passed on I can still relive all those memories. Of course, that’s the great advantage to writing a blog or writing in your journal on a regular basis.

I hope you enjoy reading about our time in Paris, Switzerland, and Croatia and maybe when this virus thing is over, you will be motivated to take your own trip to Europe or some other exotic place in our beautiful world.

Passion, like life, is about journeys not arriving. Kimberly and I have been planning a trip to Europe for a year. This was a goal of ours. You see, the brain craves the new, the unfamiliar. Living in the moment also stimulates the mind. Of course, it’s easy to live in the moment when you’re in Paris.

Another way is to experience something familiar through someone else’s eyes. We took our good friends Frantoise and Stein Eriksen (who has a Wikipedia page) with us. We’d been to some of the places before, but they came alive again when we showed them. Our brain loves new experiences.

Everywhere we went I asked people what their passion level was. We visited the farm of a cheese maker in Switzerland. We stayed at the Palace Hotel in Gstaad Switzerland which had unbelievable scenery and impeccable service. I got to introduce the Eriksen’s to an Australian tennis champ and we were in Germany for Oktoberfest.

The most exhilarating part of the journey though started with a train ride that had some curve balls. Getting on the train and going from Zurich to Croatia there was no one was there to greet us. We had a tough time finding a cab to make it to the ship. We finally found a cab and arrived an hour late. Luckily, they waited for us.

Once we got onto the ship, we realized it was not like the spacious hotel with great service. It was tight quarters. The bathroom was so small you could hardly change your mind, let alone change a shirt in it. The shower was a spout hooked up to the bathroom sink. You turned it on and sprayed yourself, along with the rest of the room.

The week long ship ride was full of adventure. There were people from all different nationalities speaking different languages. We stopped on islands of all sizes. We bicycled 30-40 kilometers. One island was so small that license plates weren’t necessary – everyone knew everyone else. With only a few hundred people, there were maybe 25 cars.

Then there were high winds – so high that the buses couldn’t run because they might blow over. So, we rented an expensive taxi and headed back to make our flight home – which we barely made.

While we loved the more predictable parts of the trip, our real passion was in the unexpected – the missed rides, the cramped ship, the collage of cultures, and even the storm.

Do your fears prevent you from traveling (literally or figuratively) because you’re afraid to try something new? Sometimes people are so comfortable it scares them to do something different. Yet after they go ahead, they look back and that is what stands out – that’s what they talk about.

Mixing things up, trying the new, seeing something through another’s eyes, being open to adventure …. this is how you create passion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better Through Thought

May 17, 2020 by  
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For many years I’ve complained about my lack of flexibility. It’s very hard for me to reach down and pick something off the floor.  I’ve said to myself and my wife “I really don’t have good flexibility.”

I’m reading a book now called The Secret. It has been very interesting and potentially very helpful. The author, Rhonda Byrne, states, “Think thoughts of perfection. Illness cannot exist in the body that has harmonious thoughts.” Then she goes on to say, “I think perfect thoughts. I see only perfection. I am perfection. I banished every bit of stiffness and lack of agility right out of my body. I focused on seeing my body as flexible and as perfect as a child’s and every stiff and aching joint vanished. I literally did that overnight.”

She quotes Dr. John Hagelin, a quantum physicist and public policy expert as saying, “Our body is really the product of our thoughts. We’re beginning to understand in medical science the degree to which the nature of thoughts and emotions actually determines the physical substance and structure and function of our bodies.”

So, we can really see that our brains and our self-talk are very powerful and can help us heal ourselves and can help our lives in so many ways.  Dr. John Demartini, a human behavior specialist, speaker, and author adds that, “We’ve known in the healing arts of a placebo effect. A placebo is something that supposedly has no impact and no effect on the body, like a sugar pill. You tell the patient that this is just as effective, and what happens is the placebo sometimes has the same effect, if not greater effect, than the medication that is supposed to be designed for that effect. The have found out that the human mind is the biggest factor in the healing arts, sometimes more so than the medication.” He goes on to say, “that love and gratitude will dissolve all negativity in our lives, no matter what form it has taken.”

Reading all this has helped me change my self-talk about my flexibility and I’ve started making a gratitude list. In my thoughts I’m saying, “I am so thankful for my slow heart rate, thankful for my great health, thankful for my great energy, both physical and mental, that has really improved my life. I am grateful that I am becoming more flexible.” 

I think back over my life and I’ve said for years that I am really quite good with numbers and with words. I realize now that the more I said that the better I became with numbers and words and those two attributes ended up being the key for me to make a fortune. So, I would encourage you to take a close look at yourself and get your brain busy strengthening your mindset about those things in your life that will enhance your life and everything you do. 

Inspiration for our Time

May 10, 2020 by  
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With this pandemic going on and all the lifestyle changes we are facing, I thought it would be helpful to share this short list of great quotes from some great people. These lift my brain and mood. Hope it does that same for all you readers!

  • The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear. ~Socrates
  • The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can. ~Robert Cushing
  • The searching-out and thorough investigation of truth ought to be the primary study of man. ~Cicero
  • The only journey is the journey within. ~Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Know thyself means this, that you get acquainted with what you know, and what you can do. ~Menander
  • Yes, know thyself: in great concerns or small, be this thy care, for this, my friend, is all.
    ~Juvenal
  • Collect as precious pearls the words of the wise and virtuous. ~Abd-el-Kadar
  • If we do not plant knowledge when young, it will give us no shade when we are old. ~Lord Chesterfield
  • If you have an hour, will you not improve that hour, instead of idling it away? ~Lord Chesterfield
  • Follow your honest convictions and stay strong. ~William Thackeray
  • He that will not reflect is a ruined man. ~Asian Proverb
  • Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow. ~Doug Firebaugh

P.S. I need to make a little correction for last week’s post. I had originally said you can look up Jeff Griffin on Amazon. I meant Google! Here is his website here.

You Can Always Be Ambitious

May 3, 2020 by  
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I was going a little stir crazy with all this time on my hands and missing my social life, but then my thinking was quickly interrupted when I was contacted by an old friend who suggested we get together and play tennis. I said, “Absolutely, but we must be careful and safe.” So, we got together but didn’t touch the tennis ball until we had applied extra layers of disinfectant on our hands.

This friend, who I hadn’t talked to for a long time, is a great guy who had what most people would call a HUGE setback. Regardless of that, he’s a nationwide motivational speaker who plays tennis, golf, and basketball and has won some great national titles. But what was his huge setback, you may ask. Well, many years ago, when he was 22 years old, he told me that he fell off a 40-foot barn roof landing straight up. It paralyzed him from the waist down, but that terrible accident didn’t stop him and his athletic ambitions even though he’s been in a wheelchair ever since.

So I told Jeff Griffin I would love to play some tennis. We played on my home court and, man oh man, was he ever good. The rules are that when you play a person in a wheelchair the ball can bounce twice before your wheelchair opponent hits it. I only get one bounce. However, he didn’t even need that small advantage. He hit the ball very hard, his placement of shots was near perfect, and the way he changes direction in his wheelchair with such speed and quickness was amazing. So, I find myself, a 4 times gold medal winner at the Huntsman Senior games, getting kicked by my friend in a wheelchair.  He beat me 6-3. (We only played one set since he totally wore me out.)

Jeff is an amazing person and has won so many awards that the list is too long for me to write out, but you can look him up on Google and read with amazement what he has done in his life so far. Sadly, most people, or at least many people, would look at such a huge setback like Jeff suffered and pretty much give up. Jeff didn’t let that terrible accident stop him though and, wow, has he ever gone to work on so many parts of his life to make himself better and, sometimes, even the very best!

When I get a little frustrated or disappointed I try to push my mind to think about people like Jeff and say to myself, “Hey, I am not going to let my little setbacks or failures stop me from whatever project or goal I’ve set out to do.” And neither should you!

Stir Yourself Up Instead of Going Stir Crazy

April 26, 2020 by  
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Wow. Now, after several weeks, we are still in lock down mode, but that doesn’t have to force us into a mental lock down too. Use this time to look at your world and your relationships in a new way.

The virus has undoubtedly brought my wife and I closer and has pushed my mind to see and think much more about details of so many things. For example, the other day, Kimberly said “Hey, let’s take a drive and look at all the beautiful blossoms that are out now.” Before the pandemic, I would have said, “Are you kidding me? That doesn’t sound like fun to me.”  But with what’s going on, I said, “Okay, let’s go.” Well, when I paid major attention to all the absolutely gorgeous and beautiful blossoms, I was so very impressed, and that drive lifted my mood. It was such a simple thing, but it did us so much good. Thank you, mister virus.

Talk about me noticing details now! Walking down my long driveway to pick up the newspaper I saw a little rock and noticed what looked like a face. How cool. By the way, walking to get my paper always starts my daily walking goal and I usually hit my goal of 20,000 steps a day, even in times like these.

Kimberly is spending hours and hours doing what she loves to do – making beautiful beaded necklaces and other jewelry. We have also found ourselves playing pool and shuffleboard and having a great time doing so many little simple things that we almost never do.

And, hey, remember that now is a great time to reach out to friends and family. My wife Kimberly has reached out to her family and had many long conversations on the phone with her father and friends. Even if you can’t physically hug your friends and family, you certainly can send a virtual hug on the phone.

I even found myself reaching out to friends from 60 years ago. I wanted to talk to my basketball buddy Richard Harvey. We were on the winning team that took first place in an American high school tournament in Rome, Italy back in the day.  I got a hold of his son Kyle who gave me Richard’s phone number in Ohio. I had a great conversation and did that virtual hugging thing. Then, the very next day an old friend of mine, Russ Whitney, called me. He read my first book back when he was a meat cutter in New York and now gives me a lot of credit for his huge success in life. He’s now having 1,000 apartment units built in Florida.

So, it turns out that we don’t have to put up with those feelings that we are going stir crazy.  We can turn this shutdown situation into a really good thing for us and our friends and family. It’s so amazing to me that I began noticing and paying attention to so many details, even simple things around the house, such as pictures and decorations that I have always just skipped over. And now I have that super little rock with the face to remind me to pay attention to the details too.

 

The Friend Factor

April 19, 2020 by  
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I don’t know about you, but this world stopping virus has pounded into my head how very important and uplifting friends, and socializing in general, is to our lives. I’m sure you are like me, feeling the loss of this huge reduction of face to face socializing with friends, business partners, and even some family, especially right now. I’m sure that it’s not only me that believes keeping up friendships is important to your health and quality of life. I came across an article on the Mayo Clinic website about just how important it is to maintain your friends and social circle.

According to this article friendships can:

  1. Increase your sense of belonging and purpose.
  2. Boost your happiness.
  3. Reduce stress.
  4. Improve your self-worth.
  5. Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss, or death of a loved one.
  6. Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.

Now, that’s a lot of benefits for something most of us would like to do anyways. Of course, with the COVID19 virus we are suddenly hit with a huge shortage of social encounters that we have probably been taking for granted. So why don’t we, even under normal times, keep up with our friends better? It’s likely because life just gets in the way.

We are constantly drawn away from time with our friends by other priorities such as work, caring for children or elderly parents, or trying to make a dent in that long to do list that is always hanging over our heads. Also, many of us do a lot traveling and even move around the country so sometimes even our well-established friendships start to fade with the distance between us all. And then, sometimes, it’s hard to find the time and even the motivation to go out and make new friends. But that is something that we really cannot afford to not do.  Hey, maybe this virus scare will stimulate us to greatly improve our drive to be closer to our friends and make more of them.  Personally, I am certainly going to pay more attention to my face to face social life and my friends when this thing is over.

When I think of my own life and all my friends, I realize and appreciate, even more, my business of investing in real estate and all the friends I made along the way. Most are still great friends to this day. I also got a huge increase in good new friends from that thing called TENNIS-I love it!!

So, hey… let us all stay positive during this virus thing and make plans to spend more time with our friends when this is over as well as having plans to make new ones!

Direct Your Brain

April 12, 2020 by  
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Now, maybe more than ever, it’s so good for all of us that are home bound because of the virus, to live in the present or the “great right now”. There is a very thoughtful, but short and simple poem from John Greenleaf Whittier that makes a very good point:

No longer forward nor behind

I look in hope or fear,

But, grateful, take the good I find,

The best of now and here

Our human minds can do so many great things, but the brain can also do some major damage. We do have a choice, right now, to use our heads to keep us going and in good shape physically and mentally. I’ve seen in the news what I expected and that is a rise in the number of suicides. In addition, unfortunately, the instances of spousal and domestic abuse cases have jumped as well. These people are obviously having difficulties using their brain in a good way.

I did, however, laugh out loud when I read this morning about a guy in England that ran a marathon in his back yard—a very small yard too. That was a lot of circles-especially since his yard was only 20 feet wide. His name is James Campbell and he set his mind to do the huge run to raise money to help fight the coronavirus. I’m sure that thinking about helping other people gave his brain good, positive thoughts which raised his energy level. It’s been proven that your brain really can give you energy.

So now, in these tough days, most of us, being stuck in the house, have plenty of time to plan and set goals for when this is over. Hey, how about doing some detail planning of an exotic trip to Rome or Paris or, if your budget can’t handle that, how about a camping trip and hike in the mountains or even in a nearby open space or campground?

If you have lost some of your passion for life being locked up in your house, you can focus on reviving and getting your passion for living back. First of all, don’t let your brain think about all the stuff you can’t do right now or how you can’t have face to face conversations with friends, co-workers or even some family members. We do all know our social lives are quite important, but our brains can help us out here. Our brain can be our best friend or worst foe and we really can direct our brain to be the way we want it to be.

Ernie J. Zelinski says in his book, The Joy of Not Working, “Fully alive individuals experience the here and now … the more we focus on the past and the future the more we miss the right now. Sadly, we miss most of life’s precious moments because we are so preoccupied with the past and the future.” So, in times like we have right now, we need to use that great brain to think in your present moment. Or, as the author also says, “Being in the now is crucial for living happily, because the present moment is all that you really have.”

If you missed my last week’s post, I would suggest you go back and read my list of the 9 items that are helping me through these stressful times. Plus, I would strongly suggest that you work up your own list to keep your mind and body connected. It will help you lift your spirits and your life.

Your Routine Replacement List

April 5, 2020 by  
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All I can start with on this week’s blogs is just … Wow. Double Wow.

In my 75 years of life I have never ever seen anything like this COVID-19. It’s certainly changing the world right now and undoubtedly will continue to do so into the near future. But what is a normal person going to do without going absolutely stir crazy until it leads to big time depression?

When all of a sudden you are confined to your house without your normal routine, that can mean big trouble. Routine can really be a good thing, even a simple routine like going to work every day. You really don’t think or fret about that routine because you just do it and it feels fine. But you take that routine away that you have at your office or place of business or your active social life and, ouch, that can be a game changer.

I like what author James Wallman said about time, especially leisure time. He said, “Leisure doesn’t improve the quality of life unless one knows how to use it effectively.” The first time I got hit without a routine that about drove me crazy was when I retired and found myself at home without any routine and seemingly nothing to do. I did discover how to overcome that huge dilemma and, now, with this huge virus thing going on, I thought that I could share what we can all do to survive, and even thrive.

I think I will call it the anti-stir-crazy list. “List” is the key word. If we just take time to begin working on a list and making those items on the list our new routine it can, and will, enhance your life.

Here’s some of to do thing on my list as an example:

  1. Set a specific timeline and schedule to exercise every day. I’m talking, lots of walking, hiking in the hills, lifting weights, stretching, push-ups and pull-ups, etc.
  2. Take time to get super organized. There are so many things that have just been postponed that I can easily spend time doing what should have been done before
  3. Seek out and find some good books to read, both fiction and self-help.
  4. Begin and make an outline for a new book that could be written.
  5. Call, text, and/or email old friends and new ones.
  6. Make a list and an outline of what could be accomplished with my life in the next 5 or 10 years.
  7. Be more attentive and playful with kids and grandkids.
  8. Begin making a list of people or charities that I can help.
  9. Begin to learn a foreign language–download Duolingo or Rosetta Stone that makes it easy and fast.

When making this list, keep in mind these questions: What do I enjoy doing the most? Is there anything I am not adding to the list because of negative self-talk? What gives me a great sense of purpose? And don’t neglect to write the list down. If you write your goals and to-do list down you are much more likely to follow through and do those things.

I hope these ideas are helpful and might push you to work on some things to better yourself and your life as well as add to the list of what motivates you and things you like to do.

By the way, when I wrote item no. 4, I thought through my book writing and was somewhat in awe that I’ve actually written 9 books! I would have never ever guessed, those many years ago when I was a construction worker, that I would ever write even one book!  So, my advice is to push yourself to make and live by your own list. You could even brainstorm with friends or family to come up with a bigger and better list!

 

Persistent Genius

March 29, 2020 by  
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Let’s look at another famous and super successful person this week, someone who had some very tough times and setbacks that, for many if not most people, would have forced them to give up and say goodbye to their big dreams and great hopes. I think you may have heard of him – his name is Albert Einstein.

Einstein didn’t even start talking until he was 3 years old and didn’t read at all until he was 7. That by itself wouldn’t be classified as tough times or a big setback but later, when he was in school, he poorly. He wouldn’t respond to the teacher when asked a question or he would take forever and then would whisper a response. He was also known for being incredibly forgetful and absent- minded. He would often forget to put on his socks and many other basic things. Many people believed that Albert Einstein was mentally retarded although he did excel at mathematics from a young age and even taught himself algebra and geometry one summer when he was 12 years old.

At the age of 16, he applied to the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zürich but was turned down after he failed the entrance exam. He was advised to finish his secondary schooling, which he did, successfully enrolling in the four-year mathematics and physics teaching diploma program at the Zürich Polytechnic school at the age of 17.

Quoting from Darcy Andries great book, The Secret of Success, Is Not a Secret, “It was not until after the first of Einstein’s theories, the ‘Special Theory of Relativity’, was published that the scientific community truly recognized his talent. However, even then many scientists attacked his theories, calling them ‘worthless and misleading’ and asserted that Einstein ‘has not a logical mind.’ None of these kinds of comments and failures stopped him. He became professor extraordinary at Zurich, and later a professor of theoretical physics at Prague. The highlight of his scientific career came in 1921, when Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics.”

So, here’s a guy who had many reasons to pack it up and not chase any big dream or goal but, wow, look at what he did and who he turned out to be. Even though I am pretty sure that good ole Albert didn’t have a clue that 100 years after winning the Nobel Prize he would still be famous and known worldwide. Alex Johnson, a reporter for MSNBC, said this about Einstein: “Albert Einstein’s impact on the world was so immense that any assessment must range beyond science to take in the multifarious ways he changed culture.”

These stories and many others certainly inspire and motivate me to never give up on my hopes, dreams and goals. I hope you feel the same way.

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