Good Character

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Perhaps, you feel that The Porch wears out the subject of character.  But, I think it is vital for a successful life as an individual and for success as a company, especially in the healthcare business.  Unless we can be trusted to do the right thing in the right way, we literally have no place being in this business.

Today, we look at three different, but related quotes by three different people.  All relate to our character.  See if any of these hits a bull’s-eye for you today:

1.     “What lies behind us, and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson) – Emerson is saying here that our character is more important than circumstances.  No matter what happens to us, good or bad, matters less than the person we really are.  Our character is vital to how we handle obstacles, how we manage victories, and how we treat others.  Nothing matters more, in fact.

2.     “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” (George Eliot [Mary Ann Evans]) – George Eliot, the pen name for Mary Ann Evans, is saying to us that we never run out of opportunities to live up to our potential… time only runs out when we breathe our last breath.  For many, the past seems to dominate our thinking and our attitude.  However, every day we have the chance to re-craft or re-invent ourselves.  It is only a matter of deciding that today will be different than yesterday… perhaps, the circumstances may not be different, but our approach to life and how we handle them, can be completely new.  In short, we have a new chance every day to re-form our character into something more impactful and more powerful.

3.     “Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece by thought, choice, courage and determination.” (John Luther) – Luther is saying that good character comes chip-by-chip… much like the work of a master sculptor.  Each day, and through each event, we reveal more and more of our true character.  And, to a significant extent, that is driven by the choices we personally make.

Were any of these especially meaningful to you today?  Have an outstanding day!

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Who’s life is better?

Owen (Baseball)

Today on The Porch, we contemplate one simple question:

“Who’s life is better today because of what you did yesterday?”

Today represents an opportunity for each of us to make a difference for someone else.  We have the ability to turn a bad day into a good one for someone else.  We have a chance to restore someone’s faith in a friend, a coworker, or even a stranger.  We have a chance to be a “giver” rather than a “receiver.”  We have a chance to reconnect with an old friend.  We have a chance to restore a broken relationship.  We have a chance to forgive.  We have a chance to do something we have intended to do, but just never found the time.  How will you make a difference for someone today?

So, in response to this question, what answer will you give tomorrow about today?

And, never forget, today could be your best day yet!  Be ready for it!

 

 

The meaning of Value

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Following is a story told by JRD Tata, a French born aviator and visionary businessman.  This is….

The lesson that changed a man’s life

JRD Tata had a friend who used to say that he misplaces and loses his pen very often. He will use only very cheap pens so that he need not worry about losing them.

But he was worried about his carelessness habit.

JRD suggested to him to buy the costliest pen he could afford and see what happens.

He did that and bought a 22 carat gold Cross pen.

After nearly six months JRD met him and asked him if he continues to misplace his pen.

His friend said that he is very careful about his costly pen and he is surprised how he has changed!

JRD explained to him that the value of the pen made the difference and there was nothing wrong with him as a person!

 

This is what happens in our life. We are careful with things we value the most in our life.

If we value our health, we will be careful of what and how we eat;

If we value our friends, we will treat them with respect;

If we value money, we will be careful while spending;

If we value time, we will not waste it;

If we value relationship, we will not break it.

Carelessness is trait in all of us. But we know when to be careful!

Carelessness only shows what we don’t value.

Learn the power of value.

It will change the way you look at things in life.

What or who do you value?  I think this little lesson will help each of us take a fresh look at how we value our health, our friends, our money, our time, our relationships, and all other key aspects of our lives.  This might be a good time for some serious introspection.  How about you?

Thank you for making a difference in the world for someone else.  Have a glorious, “best day!”

 

You don’t have a chance!

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A story:

Three old hunters were sitting around at the coffee shop. One said, “My dog has to be the best tracking dog in history.  Why, just the other day, he was able to track a rabbit that must have run over two miles through three pastures, a woods, and over the creek twice.  He stayed with the trail and, sure enough, the rabbit was sitting, out-of-breathe, at the end.  What an amazing dog!”

The second hunter said, “That’s nothin’. My dog can trail three rabbits at once.  The other day, he trailed three rabbits whose trails criss-crossed and covered over 10 acres of the bottom pasture, yet he stayed with them — all at once!  At the end, I found each rabbit in the brush at the end of its trail.  My dog kept the three rabbit scents separate across all that space and time.  He has to be the best ever!”

The third hunter jumped in and said, “Your dogs are amateurs! My dog can follow a rabbit trail across the interstate highway, swim the lake to pick it up on the other side, and will chase the rabbit back to me sitting on my back porch.  Well, he even picked up a trail that was two weeks old one day early in the morning and it took him till near dinner time to chase that rabbit back to the house!  No doubt in all the world, my dog is the best tracking dog ever!”

 

So, what’s the moral of this story? Of course, you probably guessed it already…. The first liar doesn’t have a chance!  When you are tempted to exaggerate the truth or embellish the facts or just outdo your friend, you must not go first!  You have to let all the other liars have first shot at the story, then you can simply top them all.

Have you seen this play out in the workplace? Sure you have.  It goes something like this… “My team did a great job on that last project.  They delivered on time and on budget.  Perfect execution.”  The second person jumps in with, “Yes, that was pretty good, I do admit.  However, I remember my team tackling a similar project last year and they actually finished the thing early and had enough budget left over to add that second module that has paid huge dividends.  I’ve never been prouder.”  Finally, the last person (actually, the smart one that waited until the end) says, “Yes, you both have pretty decent teams.  But, you have to admit you are still jealous of my team.  They have a reputation of outperforming every other team.  Remember that project last month?  They finished it in a day, actually made money doing it, and their efforts single-handedly caused our stock to increase by 25% in one hour!  You two probably wouldn’t even still  have your jobs if not for the great performance of my team.”

Sound familiar? Have a great day and remember, we need to be warriors, not worriers.

 

A door to second chances

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Doors are interesting. Their purpose, of course, is very practical… to keep people/things in/out, to provide privacy, or to separate or confine sounds.  They can also serve aesthetic purpose.  However, I believe doors can also serve a symbolic purpose.  Here are few that come to my mind:

  1. The front door to our workplace – Every day we come into work, the front door provides new opportunities, new chances, and a fresh start. No matter what happened yesterday, we have today to make it better. We also have a fresh chance to impact the lives of our coworkers, to encourage them, and to support their efforts. The door you entered this morning is more than an entryway, or a security line… it represents a day filled with hope and possibility.
  2. The door to your office or the office of anyone else – Yes, this door also represents a new opportunity. However, it can be a door of second chances, as well. For those entering your space, it provides a new chance to right a wrong, to start something new, to collaborate, to correct a problem… every door represents a new chance… a second chance to make a difference.
  3. The door of your home – I think of my door at home as the entryway to a sanctuary, a safe place, a place to shed anything that is not real or not really me. It is that one place where we can be open and honest in a safe way.

In truth, any door you enter represents a new chance or a second chance to do something great. Any door could be an entryway to something awesome or wonderful.  Do you look at doors this way or, like me, have you become so immune to things that you don’t even see it?  Why not, just for today, view every door we enter as a fresh chance to make a difference.  Then, let’s take advantage of it.

Thanks for what you do to improve the lives of our patients. To them, you make a huge life-difference.  Have a fabulous day!  It could be a “top ten” day, you know.  Watch for it!

 

Be BIG in the little things

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Everyone knows you should come up big in the big things. Athletes always strive to be at their best during championship games.  Everyone wants to be at their very best when making presentations to senior management.  Individuals typically vie to be on the “big” project teams, the “important” activities, and the “needle-moving” opportunities.  Colin Powell once said, “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters.”  So very true!  It seems that individuals typically shy away from the “little projects” because they want to be part of big things.  But, as Powell indicates, excellence matters in little things.  You prove yourself in the minor things and prove your capability to handle bigger things.

Being “big” in little things also matters in how we behave and how we deal with others. For example, driving in traffic is, in reality, a little thing.  It is not a competition.  It is not an indicator of our worth.  One way or another, we almost always get to our location.  However, our behavior on the road can be a measure of our character.  How do we handle things when someone cuts us off in traffic?  Do we always have to be in the fast lane?  Does courtesy go out the window when we get behind the wheel?

Being “big” in little things is truly a reflection of our character. How we handle little stresses matters.  How we treat others when we have been mistreated is important.  How we react when we are pushed shows others who we really are.  Being “big” in little things means a lot.  Please consider this the next time you are tempted to strike back at someone else or to shirk a less than desirable request when it comes.

This could be it… our best day yet! You never know when that day might come.  And, thanks for all you do to make this a better place.  Have a great day!

 

 

Conflicting signals and how they impact our culture

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Some once said of culture:

“An organization’s culture is defined as the worst behavior that is allowed to occur or that is considered acceptable.”

I think this definition speaks volumes about the culture we create. After all, “culture is not what you say, but what you do.”  A culture is not created with banners, slogans, or goals.  It is that sum of behaviors and actions that occur day-after-day that determine the norm for that organization.  When negative behavior is allow (or even encouraged), the culture assumes that negative vibe.  When the norm is positive and enthusiastic, the culture assumes those attributes.

Which brings us to the problem with conflicting signals. Let’s look at a couple real examples:

  • When you first learned to drive a car, you knew that the speed limit was the legally allowed maximum speed you could travel. However, you also quickly learned that you can typically drive 4 – 8 or more miles per hour faster than the speed limit without negative impact. This is re-enforced by the police when you drive past a waiting policeman going 5 miles per hour over the limit and you do not get a ticket. Further, the policeman never blinks when you only drive 5 miles per hour over the limit. Though you know the posted speed limit, the signal we get is that we can violate that limit up to 5 miles per hour or more.
  • Another driving example… A new driver very quickly learns that a stop sign or red light means stop! Though you might occasionally get away with a “rolling stop,” the vast majority of drivers understand that stopping is a true safety issue and most readily comply with stop signs or red lights. The signal we get is that this is so important that we do not have liberty to violate it. The signal comes from others (peers) and those in authority (police).

So, how do conflicting signals impact us in the workplace? Again, let’s look at some examples:

  • What do you think when we say, “Safety is our number one objective”, then we clearly reward production more than safety performance? Is this a conflicting signal?
  • What do you think when your supervisor talks about the importance of integrity, then appears to take advantage of the rules in place that should apply to everyone? Is this a conflicting signal?
  • What do you think when your department is faced with severe budget or spending restrictions, then you see others spending lavishly on travel, meetings, etc.? Is this a conflicting signal?
  • What do you think when a parent tells a child, “Don’t drink (or smoke or gamble or whatever)”, then frequently does the exact behavior that they are teaching their children that they shouldn’t do? Is this a conflicting signal?
  • What do you think when one member of management is allowed to yell or scream or use abusive language, yet the typical response is, “Ah, that’s just the way he/she is. Just ignore him/her.” Is this a conflicting signal?

We create our culture by what we do day-by-day, week-by-week. If we want a culture that is encouraging, credible, and positive, then our behavior should reflect that.  If we want a strong quality/compliance culture, we need to diligently adhere to established procedures, limits, specifications, practices, etc. without allow those “minor excursions.”  Those minor excursions that we allow say that compliance is important… when it is convenient!  A culture of quality/compliance (or whatever you target) is established when you say it, do it, and reward others that say it and do it.  Any inconsistency degrades or cancels what you say.

In short, conflicting signals is one of the primary reasons we struggle with a negative culture. We can say whatever we want, but unless we live it consistently, our words become nothing more than noise that becomes lost in the buzz of the crowd.

Have a terrific day!

Standing like a rock

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There is danger in allowing yourself to be carried about by the current in every situation, leaning to one side, then the other. Never having an opinion or taking a stand leads to a life of compromise.  On the other hand, standing firm in every situation or being dogmatic about your views can lead to isolation and frustration.  Going too far with either is a problem.  Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States and international statesman, had this to say about that subject:

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”                   – Thomas Jefferson –

Jefferson advocated going along with prevailing viewpoints in matters of style. In other words, when the true outcome doesn’t matter, why take an immovable stance?  However, in matters that matter (e.g., principles),  we must stand firm, like a rock.  Principles lead to values which define character.  So, in situations in which a compromise of principles could occur, we must stand firm.  Jefferson was simply saying that we must “major on the majors.”  We must not attempt to win every argument or every situation, especially when the outcome is meaningless.  Save your battles for those situations that truly can impact others or the company.

Thanks for all you do! Never forget that our efforts can make a difference to others.  Have a fabulous day!

 

Tribute to Fathers

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The third Sunday every June is designated Father’s Day in the United States. So, today, in the final of our Friday Tribute Series, we pay tribute to fathers and what they mean to us.

First of all, I would like to say a few words about my own father. He grew up in Xenia, Illinois, and was one of ten children in his family.  My grandfather was a farmer and the family was not wealthy – quite the opposite, actually.  My father was a navy aircraft gunner in the Pacific during World War II and became an oil-field welder as his career.  His work as a welder was hot and miserable in the summer and frigid in the winter.  He worked 6 days/week all his working life.  He had one week of unpaid vacation per year, but we always took a family vacation.  He loved to fish and hunt, but being a full-time father was his avocation, hobby, and passion.  I was active in sports and school activities all the way through college and he rarely missed an event, even when it meant driving hours and getting home late leaving little time for sleep before doing it all over again.

My father was the model for hard-work, integrity, and dedication to his wife and children. He was always kind to others and treated everyone with respect.  He was so intent that his own children attend college that he never taught any of the four of us to weld, despite frequent requests.  He never wanted us to be tempted to take his own path.  Much of what I am, value, and try to do is in response to what I learned from him.

I think it is important to say thanks to the fathers in our midst that sacrifice for their families. So, to the fathers in the group, this is for you:

  • Thanks for putting aside your own hobbies for a few years to focus on the activities of your kids even though you get a tear in your eye every time you clean the dust and cobwebs off your golf clubs
  • Thanks for going to work early or doing extra late at night or for giving up “work time” to be at your important kids events, such as dance recitals, soccer games in the snow, and endless band concerts, then acting in the end as if it was the greatest entertainment event you have ever attended
  • Thanks for your patience doing homework with the kids even though your old way of doing math problems is “the wrong way” in today’s educational system
  • Thanks for saying “no” when you needed to, “yes” when your heart said no, and “I love you” every day – you have shown your kids that there will never be a day when you don’t love them and want the best for them
  • Thanks for teaching your kids that hard work, solid education, and ambition are no more important that integrity, service to others, and kindness in getting ahead in this world
  • Thanks for being at home when your kids needed you most
  • Thanks for always ensuring that your kids know that you love their mother and for letting them see you show outward affection to her – this teaches them what a loving marriage should be and what kind of spouse they should eventually seek
  • Thanks for those special one-on-one times when you treat your kids to ice cream – you learn a lot about your kids when you do
  • Thanks for protecting your kids – not just their physical protection, but protecting them from the negative influences that could so easily overtake them
  • Thanks for keeping your promises, for being honest, and for showing your kids that fun times are important and memorable
  • Thanks for showing your kids how to fix stuff – or at least who to call when something needs fixed
  • Thanks for blessing the life of your children, their friends, and those that watch your love for them in action every day

And, to those of you that have lost your fathers, take the time this weekend to tell your kids or grandchildren a favorite story of growing up with your father. Better yet, write it down so no one ever forgets it.

Finally, I have included a couple of links below to songs that are fitting for a Father’s Day tribute. These remind me that the greatest honor of my lifetime has been to be Dad and Grandpa to those special people in my own life.  Have a great weekend!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP-Sxfntdb4                                                 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrWMBC6yoME

 

What is your hope?

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Sometimes, it seems the world has turned upside down. Things we formerly believed were right are now wrong.  Things we believed were wrong are now right.  We have enemies in our own land.  Jobs are difficult to find.  Taxes are high, but many say not high enough.  Our infrastructure is falling apart.  Prospects for the future are often dim.

So, is there hope?  What is your hope?  If you put your hope and confidence in a man or woman, you have been or no doubt will be sorely disappointed.  If you put your hope on an education, that will only get you so far.  If you put your hope on time (e.g., the future), we are only promised today.

What is out there that we can rely upon? What can give us reason for optimism for the future?

For me, there is only one answer to that question. My hope is in Jesus Christ.  I have placed my life and my future in His hands.  I know that I will go to heaven when I die.  No matter what happens here on earth, I know that my future is secure.

So, you ask, how can I be so confident?  How can I say for sure that I know I am heaven-bound?  There are 6 simple steps or reasons from the Bible that allow me to say this for sure:

  1. God loves me and wants me to live with Him forever:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
  2. But, we all have a problem – we are separated from God because of our sin (sin is anything against God’s desires for our life or any disobedience that we feel, commit, or express): “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23
  3. We deserve God’s punishment for our sin:  “The wages of sin is death.” – Romans 6:23
  4. Despite all our very best efforts, there is no way we can bridge that gap between us and God through our own works:  “For it is by grace you are saved, through faith – and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:9 – 10
  5. But, God’s perfect Son – Jesus – died as a sacrifice in our place to pay the price – He rose on the third day and now lives in glory with God:  “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 AND “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” – Romans 4:25
  6. All we have to do is to receive that free gift of salvation and believe (have faith or trust) that He is who He said and will do what He promises:  “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

 

 

 

There was a day when I realized I needed God’s love and forgiveness and I prayed to Him to accept Jesus and His sacrifice for me. I now put my hope and trust and eternal future in His hands.  That’s how I can say for sure that I’ll spend eternity in heaven.  Now, I don’t have to wonder about my future after this life.  And, this assurance gives me greater confidence to live my life now to the fullest.

So, I know my eternal future. My hope is not in any human, or company, or money, or any other thing – as the old hymn says, “My hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  You can have this same hope and assurance in your future that I have if you simply follow the six steps outlined above.  Or, if you would like more information, please contact me personally.

Have a truly wonderful day!