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The Right Kind of People

October 28, 2011 by  
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We are in Portugal cycling this week. What a great place, great wines and great people. Earlier in the week we spent a fantastic evening with Julio Bastos and wife Isabelle at their incredible estate. The Bastos are maybe the 3rd richest family in Portugal. They wined and dined us in their castle-like home, complete with waiters and cooks that waited on us hand and foot.

If you Google Julio Tassara de Bastos you’ll find an impressive list of endeavors and success primarily in the production and export of wine. Although I don’t deal in wine myself (I do, however, drink my share!) I jumped at the chance to meet this successful couple and speak with them because they are the right kind of people to know. I was even more assured of this after our evening together. They were very warm and friendly people–not at all stuffy like some super wealthy people–and they even expressed sincere enthusiasm about eventually reading my books. It’s that kind of openness in people that make them so valuable as business contacts as well as friends.

I guess the real lesson here is not what you know but who you know, and what kind of people you come to connect with. It’s rather simple. Hang out with the right people and they will lead you to more of the right people and who knows what may come from that.

Comfort of the Familiar vs. Excitement of the New

September 9, 2011 by  
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I’m still on a high from the great trip we had a couple of weeks ago. I love being out on the road, looking at all the wonderful scenery we pass, some familiar, some new. I know when we stopped in Garland Utah, both my wife and I were struck by how the town has not changed in 50 years and we both agreed that we actually liked it that way.

Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, that may not sound like me. I have often gone on and on about how novel experiences make things exciting, fires up your passion for living and keep your mind active and in shape. But life doesn’t have to always be about excitement. There can be a great feeling of comfort and safety when things don’t change and sometimes we need that. For instance, on this last trip, there was a lot of comfort and joy in seeing old friends. However, often times when I travel I try to meet new people. I think we need both–the comfort and ease of the familiar and the excitement of the new.

It really comes down to balancing what you do. I think for many people, sticking with the old familiar things provides a comfort they find hard to let go of but it also can hold you back from living fully. In order to liven up your life and to live passionately you need to get out of that comfortable place occasionally. Try something new, meet and chat with complete strangers, travel somewhere unfamiliar. And in between, rest and recharge with the comfort of the things you know well.

Recharging and Making Memories

September 4, 2011 by  
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My wife and I just returned from the annual Stein Eriksen Tennis tourney just south of Ennis Montana, high on a mountain over the Madison River. Kimberly and I planned out the trip in detail, contacting a number of people to tell them we were going to stop by. When we finished the trip I was a little shell shocked by the “super high” that the trip gave me. And it was really more the people and the reconnecting with old friends that did the trick, even though the scenery was spectacular.

Our first stop was cute little Garland Utah where we visited with Bob Jensen, an old friend I’d met in England back in 1963. Then we drove to Providence Utah where I renewed my friendship with a middle school friend, Jay Low. Then it was onto Bear Lake where we stayed overnight with my good friend and prior business partner for over 17 years, George Winquist.

When we arrived at the tourney, we were warmly greeted by Stein and Francoise Eriksen and several other friends from my more recent past. The next day Bjorn Eriksen buzzed the house in his small plane to let us know that he and his girlfriend had arrived. For the next three days 40 of us played tennis, laughed and talked over great wine. Isn’t it amazing that you can go a year or even many years without talking to a good friend and then you pick right up as if no time has passed at all?

Even our drive back was highlighted by great conversation. In Jackson there was another middle school friend, George Thompson and wife Jett. The next day we stopped to see sister Sue and her husband Paul and my brother Scott and his wife Pat. And every conversation just recharged me more.

Family, friends, and tons of great memories made just filled me up on this trip. It gave both my wife and I a super re-charging of mental and even physical batteries. All of us can and should re-dedicate ourselves to staying in touch and re-connecting with friends and relatives–it’s the best stuff in life, keeping us pumped up and making life so much richer.

Good times, Good Friends, & Getting Away From it All

August 26, 2011 by  
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So this week we’ve been out on the road and at the annual Stein Eriksen Tennis Tourney in Montana. It’s so much fun and there are so many great people there. Getting to this event every year is kind of a goal of mine. It’s not a goal like getting in shape or increasing my wealth or anything serious like that. It’s just a great time. And that, too, is important–getting out and having a good time on a regular basis.

I know we can get very wound up in our work, our big goals for our future and our family, even the little day to day things. But in addition to the serious goals and daily responsibilities, you should make it a point to get out and enjoy yourself. That is also a goal, one that is good for your health as well as your spirit. Those fun times make getting back and getting down to business much easier. If you keep running full steam ahead on all the work you have to do, you’ll burn out, or do your work poorly, or get frustrated and give up. Good times, good friends, and just getting away can do wonders for your motivation, energy level, and overall attitude.

Never retire–Re-fire!

April 22, 2011 by  
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Recently I got a phone call from a friend I knew when we were 20. As it turns out my friend, Keith Karren, has written a great book, “Boomer”, about the issues facing baby boomers as they head into retirement. Throughout the book Keith keeps saying, “Never retire–just re-fire”, a sentiment not very different from what I say in my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living”. However, Keith goes a little deeper when it comes to applying this to retirement.

We got to talking about this huge problem that most retired people face. They find themselves thinking “Who am I if I am no longer a business person, teacher, doctor, pilot or clerk?” Sure, at first it seems just wonderful not to have to go to work every day but after a while you miss the structure, camaraderie, goals, etc. You say “Oh, I’m retired now” when people ask what you do and you don’t even know what that means. If you think about it, retired is a terrible word. It comes across as a label that says your life is over, that it is worthless and has little or no meaning.

Well my old friend Keith writes all about this problem in his book. When I first read “Never retire–just re-fire” I was myself, fired up by this phrase. The idea of re-firing is to get you excited or re-excited about living. It means setting new goals and totally re-energizing yourself for this next phase of your life. And that’s a heck of a lot better than sitting around waiting to die. When you retire, you still have another 25-35 years of living yet to do. Just think of all you did in your last 35 years! That’s a lot of time to do a ton of exciting and productive things. Just trade in your retirement for a bit of re-fire-ment!

Change Your Scenery

April 8, 2011 by  
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It’s good to be back in the shadow of the Rockies. After being in Hawaii these last few months I can really appreciate the beautiful Utah landscape, arid and harsh as it appears sometimes. Hawaii is lush and breathtaking but Utah, has amazing color and spectacular formations. I’m always happy to get to either home after time in the previous.

In the same way, you don’t have to be stuck with just one goal, one hobby, or one set of tasks all the time. Being able to move between two items will give you a continued appreciation of both. So if you find yourself getting burned out on a particularly trying set of tasks, move to something else, something completely different if possible.

For instance, if you are starting a business and have been working on marketing plans for weeks, switch gears and work on development for a while. The change in “scenery” can give you’re a boost of inspiration and recharge your enthusiasm for the marketing that will get your newly developed products out there.

And if you’ve been holed up all winter, welcome the spring by getting out somewhere and waking up your senses. A literal change of scenery will do you good all the way around. Our minds crave novelty and novelty brings us mega satisfaction, as I am sure you have experienced many times. We just sometimes need a reminder to step out of the habitual.

Its Not Always About the “Really Big Goals”

December 31, 2010 by  
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Flying just south of Mt. Everest on our way from Kathmandu, Nepal to Paro, Bhutan, I was reminded of how important really big goals are in our life. Now, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, climbing Mt. Everest has never been a goal of mine but when I saw the mountain I thought, I don’t want to miss out on the chance to face that challenge, to some degree at least. So I decided, “I am going to climb that mountain and I am going to do it tomorrow!” And guess what? I did.

“Now, wait a minute!” you may say. “I thought you always preached that a huge goal like that takes a lot of thinking and planning? Can a person accomplish, to any real degree, such a huge goal without much thought or planning?” Well, yes, you can.

People ask me when they see the shirt that has my name on it, a picture of Mt. Everest and the 2010 date, if I made it all the way to the top or at least past base camp. I tell them that I did not make it to the summit but I did make it 100 meters past base camp–MY base camp, that is, a place at the very, very bottom of the Mountain.

The point was that I’d set a goal that meant something to me—taking the opportunity to try something, even if my accomplishment was small compared to reaching the peak. Because, yes, reaching the peak would take a lot of preparation and planning just like all Really Huge Goals do. But just because you can’t achieve the “Really Big Goal” doesn’t mean you always skip out on the experience altogether.

Life is about your experiences and memories, and the challenges you take on, no matter how small, will add to your sense of accomplishment and enrich your life. So even though you may not be able to ‘reach the top’ due to some unchangeable circumstance or because you chose to put the majority of your efforts elsewhere, if you have the chance to make a memory that won’t detour you from your primary goals, why not go for it?

May your New Year be filled with realized dreams and many happy experiences!

Embracing What We Cannot Change

December 24, 2010 by  
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There were so many awe-inspiring, extraordinarily beautiful, and even startling sights during our recent trip to the Asia. But one of the oddest things—or at least one that really struck me—was the incongruous vision of Buddhist monks walking around the temple areas, looking down as they went, at something we are all very familiar with yet would not expect to see at a Buddhist temple–cell phones! Yes, these monks, ages anywhere from, (would you believe) 8 or 9 years old to 80 or 90 years old—were walking and texting or talking on that very, modern invention.

It didn’t seem to fit at all and it took a while to get somewhat used to seeing the simple Buddhist ways combined with modern technology. Didn’t Buddhist traditionally renounce conventional living? But it occurred to me after a while, that they also attach great importance to community and isn’t keeping in touch part of that? And then there’s the Buddhist philosophy of “if you can’t change something then accept it”. And I’ve been thinking about that particular outlook on and off ever since then.

It’s really a very important idea, one that we should all make a part of our lives. Whether it’s a simple thing like not getting upset at standing in line or being in a huge traffic jam or the heart-breaking circumstance of dealing with the illness or death of a loved one, we need to focus on accepting what we cannot change. Fighting it by getting angry, depressed, or taking any other destructive or non-constructive path will not make it better and often leads to more unhappiness.

I know it’s easy to say, accept it and let it go or embrace it, and much harder to act on that idea. But if there is any time of the year that would make it easier to try and live by this philosophy, it must be now, during the holiday season when forgive and forget, be of good cheer, and learning to see that it’s “A Wonderful Life” is being preached and practiced all around us. So, let’s all think about that and put it into action in our lives and I promise that we will all feel so much better.

A Happy Holiday to you and yours.

Living a Life of Quality

November 26, 2010 by  
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With age, and the experience of achieving great success, it has become glaringly clear that wealth, power, status, fame, possessions, etc. do not, by themselves, add anything significant to the actual quality of our lives. Yes, I find having wealth is nice and allows me to do many wonderful things such as travel (like I am right now!), and I do thoroughly enjoy many of my physical possessions like my new house and all the bits and pieces my wife has brought in to make it a home, but these things are not how I measure how well I live.

Most of what makes a life worth living is not to be bought or collected but can be found in the experiences you have, what you give to others, what you accept, and how you choose to look at the world. It’s those many small steps that make up the journey that determine the true importance of the destination, not the destination itself.

If your ‘destination’ is great wealth, gaining that wealth will only be important if you’ve lived well, struggled often, and celebrated your small successes along the way. This is why lottery winners almost always end up unhappy. There was no journey, no sense of success and no memories that made up the path to their wealth. The money just became a condition of their life, not something that engaged their sense of personal acheivement.

This idea brings together much of what I’ve been talking about these past few weeks. Live in the moment, because these moments are what your life is truly made of. Choose to be happy or your life will be made of many disappointing moments and thus your life will be disappointing. And don’t forget to look for joy in the wonderful act of giving to others, acts that will infuse your life with the kind of treasure that you could never buy or fabricate.

Go ahead and go for the wealth and the status and whatever else you dream of. Just remember to live a quality life along the way, and keep up your passion for living, not just for the future life you’re after.

Happiness is a Choice

November 12, 2010 by  
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I got an email from a colleague about how things are going back in our part of the States. (I am in Bhutan right now–I’ll have to get to back to the experiences I’m having here on a later post). Apparently we got our first snow in my absence and this friend commented on the mixed reactions to the cold and the falling of the fluffy white stuff. As usual, there were a people who grumbled and scowled and there were others who lit up at the sight. Same weather, same basic experience. But for some it ruined their day while other people stopped to enjoy its beauty.

It was a perfect example of something I have been thinking about a lot lately. That is simply this: A person can make themselves happy or miserable, regardless of what is actually happening “outside” just by changing the contents of their consciousness. With such power over our circumstances, why are so many people miserable so often?

We all know people who can transform a hopeless situations into a challenge to be overcome, just through the force of their attitude. This ability to persevere despite obstacles and setbacks is one quality that people highly admire in others and justly so. It is probably the most important trait for not only succeeding in life but for enjoying it as well. Even your very perception of you as a successful person is based on how you choose to look at the experiences you have.

So, when the snow starts coming down, or the next difficult task looms before you, how will you choose to experience it?

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