Maintaining proper balance


Today, we look at the fourth of The 10 Greatest Gifts principles outlined by Steven W. Vannoy in his 1994 book.  You will recall that we examined “growing your self-esteem” the last time.  These principles also apply very well to adults working in the business world and can help us work better with others and understand, for ourselves, how we can be most productive and effective in every walk of life.

What is the principle of self-esteem?  Vannoy defines it like this:

“I want to set a model of balance – emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual balance. I want them to know that the journey of life includes both pain and joy, work and play.  Each one teaches you about the other.  They all keep a life healthy and productive.”

It is the rare person that has achieved perfect balance in all aspects of their life. We tend to focus on areas where problems exist, or on things we particularly like to do, or on activities we feel generate the most value.  But, as you can see from Vannoy’s statement above, we all need to understand that life brings highs and lows, good and bad, happy and sad.  We cannot stay on one plane all the time.  And, we must ensure that we re-balance our lives occasionally to ensure that one area of our life does not overbear or overburden all the others.

I think we all realize that there are times when things just normally get out-of-balance. For instance, when you have a huge or significant project than needs your full attention for two weeks.  Other areas may suffer during this time, but a critical project might cause short-term pain.  However, we should not attempt to sustain a badly out-of-balance situation because it can hamper others areas of our lives.  And, when you do get out-of-balance, it is good to have someone in your life that can objectively help you see it.

I think we have all heard the saying, “No one has ever said on their deathbed that they wish they had spent more time in the office.” Or, this one about raising children, “The days are long, but the years are short.  Enjoy them!”  These both speak to maintaining a proper work/life balance.  However, we can falter in other areas and ways, just as well.  Tomorrow on The Porch, you will see “The Balance Continuum” – an illustration on balance that reflects a number of common attributes or behaviors that can get out-of-balance.  So, you can look forward to that.

For today, consider the four areas of your life that Vannoy mentions above – emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual. Are you properly balanced in each area?  Are there things you need to consider changing to re-balance your life?  Do you have someone you trust that can help you see your blind-spots?

Have a splendid day! This could be our best yet… at least it could be a top-ten day.  Watch for it!

The difference between a cough and a sneeze


Today, Leigh Fuller (a colleague and friend) poses an interesting question to us, “Do you know the difference between a cough and a sneeze?” Now, before you jump to conclusions, there is a difference and it might have more to do with history and culture than you might think.  Take a look at Leigh’s thoughts:

How many times have you had a quality issue arise and provided a solution because “we’ve done this before”? Does the fact that “we’ve done this before” mean that it is the best course of action to take based on compliance risk, current regulatory requirements, trends or risk? It is important to make sure we understand the situation and risk before finalizing our decisions. Not being thoughtful about our decisions could make us an organization that takes too much risk or in some situations, not enough risk.  

This triggered a parallel in my mind recently. Why do we say “bless you” when someone sneezes?  National Geographic reports that in AD 590 that Pope Gregory I started the phase “God bless you” since sneezing was often the sign that someone had contracted the plague and would likely die. There are also stories of people believing that sneezing could be a person’s soul being thrown from their body. Regardless of how it all began, it has become a cultural norm for people to say “bless you” when someone sneezes. You are considered rude if you do not offer a “bless you” to someone in close proximity when they sneeze.  If I cough in front of my two year old twins they often say “bless you”.  They do not understand the difference between a cough and a sneeze.

So the questions I leave you with today are… Do you know what cultural norms you are creating by following the historical norms? Do you know the difference between a cough and a sneeze?

By doing the same things the same ways we’ve always done them, we create paradigms that are often impossible to change. Just ask someone from Michigan to stop calling a soft drink “pop” instead of “soda” or “cola”.  Historical practices can often become cultural norms that cause us to do things that we really should not do.  Here are a few more examples:

  • Our reject rate has always been around 10%, yet we get excited to see an improvement to only 8% rejections — Why not go crazy and look to improve to less than 5% rejections?
  • “Our Policy does not allow for that, even if it is a good idea.” — Why not change the Policy? It can be done!
  • We might be delayed on that because we have to go through the __________ Committee — If it is something that really makes a difference and needs to get done, why not try to avoid meaningless or non-value added steps?

I think Leigh’s point is a great one… perhaps we should re-consider today what we do and why we do it. We should ask, “Are we doing this because it makes good sense or are we doing it because it is considered the cultural or historical norm?”

Thanks, Leigh, great job! Let’s have one of those “top ten” days today!

The gift of compassion



Today, we look at the third of The 10 Greatest Gifts principles outlined by Steven W. Vannoy in his 1994 book.  You will recall that we examined “self-esteem” the last time.  These principles also apply very well to adults working in the business world and can help us work better with others and understand, for ourselves, how we can be most productive and effective in every walk of life.

What is the gift of compassion Vannoy discusses?  Vannoy defines it like this:

“…being compassionate means coming from a special place in your heart and mind, appreciating and valuing everything and everyone’s place in the grand scheme of life. I know that’s difficult some days, so be compassionate with yourself, too, and acknowledge yourself for doing as well as you are.”

In his book, Vannoy talks about teaching our children that everyone has value and that they need to extend grace (that is, a forgiving hand) to others. And, they need to give themselves a break in the process.  I think the key point here is that if we are unwilling to extend compassion to ourselves, it is doubly difficult to be compassionate with others.

Why is compassion so important in today’s world, especially the business world? I think there are several key points here:


  1. Compassion leads to kindness and kindness generally is an outgrowth of integrity
  2. Integrity is critical to business relationship and business success
  3. Compassion helps leaders get the very best results from their teams
  4. Compassion gives you a fresh perspective that you might not have otherwise


Who of us has not experienced or needed compassion from someone else? And, when your leader extends compassion to you, don’t you feel even more committed to doing your best?  Growing a sense of compassion does not mean you are soft on accountability.  It simply means that you are able to “walk a mile in the other individual’s shoes” and that you try to see things from the perspective of others.  You must still demand performance and accountability, but doing so with understanding.  As a leader, showing compassion shows you care.  And, when you care, your integrity grows.  You have heard it here many times… 

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Demonstrating compassion will help you be happier and more successful in every aspect of your life…. Guaranteed! Have a terrific day!



First things, first


My wife and I had a home built in the country a few years ago. During the construction process, we frequently traveled to the site to watch the progress.  I still recall how much time and effort our builder took with the home foundation.  After digging the hole, he used many tons of gravel to provide a solid and drainable base in the hole.  He poured footers (the concrete base upon which the walls sit.  Then the foundation was poured with extensive supporting re-enforcement bars suspended in it.  He built a pipe drainage system around the foundation.  Finally, he coated the foundation with water-proofing material.  It was obvious that the foundation of the home was perhaps the most important component simply because everything else relied upon it for support, balance, and structure.

First things, first. You have heard that said many times.  When building a house, the foundation comes first and must be able to withstand tremendous stress.  What comes first for you?  Have you established the values by which you live your life?  Have you determined what, no matter what, gets first priority in your life.

In a company, such as our health-care company, it is clear that the foundation should be our patients. We exist solely to serve our patients’ needs.  From our inception, when we began by relieving the pain our patients were suffering, to today with our dozens of products, our existence has been based upon meeting the needs of our health-care patients.  Often, in our day-by-day work, there is a tendency to forget our foundation of patient-first.  We work to accomplish our very specific and often parochial job to hit an objective, drive down costs, meet financial goals, etc.  However, we must never forget our patients without whom we have no company at all.  Our patients depend upon us doing our jobs extremely well.  For some, their lives and the lives of their families depend upon our products.  Let’s not let them down…. Ever!

In your life, is it clear what comes first? Some may say their faith comes before anything else.  Others may say their family comes first.  Still others may say that serving others is their most important thing.  Do you know for sure what comes first?  Do others know what is most important to you?  Having that clear and firm foundation for life serves as a base upon which everything else is built.  And, we should never have to apologize for what we have chosen as a “first thing.”

So, in our work, let’s re-affirm our commitment today that our patients come first. Everything we do should be done with our patients’ best interests in mind.  In our personal lives, let’s re-affirm what is our true “first thing.”  Let’s individually ensure that we are staying true to those core beliefs we hold.  Thanks for all you do and have a great day!


Getting everything in life you want


We often spend most of our lives striving for those things we think matter the most… a gratifying career, the appropriate title, the right house in the right neighborhood, happy and successful kids, an abundant bank account, etc. Yet, many individuals never reach the point that they can honestly say they have everything they want.  You might recall the book written by Rick Warren in 2002 called, The Purpose Driven Life.  The book topped the Wall Street Journal best seller charts as well as Publishers Weekly charts with over 30 million copies sold by 2007.   The Purpose Driven Life was also on the New York Times Bestseller List for over 90 weeks.  The popularity of this book demonstrated a desire for individuals to understand their purpose and, ultimately, to attain a rich and meaningful life.

Many have attempted to distill into words how you can attain a satisfying life. Zig Ziglar, popular author and speaker, once said:

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

I particularly like Ziglar’s thoughts on this subject for several reasons. Certainly, it has as its focus service to others.  However, it highlights a clear benefit to us when we actively strive to help others.  In short, there is a benefit both to others and ourselves when to serve them.  In essence, when you change the center of your universe away from yourself, you personally benefit.  I have found personally that when I need encouragement, it comes to me in abundance when I look to benefit others.  Serving others can lift you out of the valley, when you find yourself there.

So, bottom line… unless a significant part of your life is spend in improving the lives of others, you may not feel as fulfilled as you would like.  So, give this a test… do something today for someone else and see what benefit comes back at you.  Test Ziglar’s theory that your life is enhanced, when you enhance the life of someone else.

Have a fabulous day! There is still a chance this could be our best day yet!

Growing your self-esteem


Today, we look at the second of The 10 Greatest Gifts principles outlined by Steven W. Vannoy in his 1994 book.  You will recall that we examined “feeling fully” the last time.  These principles also apply very well to adults working in the business world and can help us work better with others and understand, for ourselves, how we can be most productive and effective in every walk of life.

What is the principle of self-esteem? Vannoy defines it like this:

“When you have high self-esteem you are nearly invincible. No matter what happens, you still know that you are a good and capable person, that you can do what you need to do again and even better. You have a rich supply of inner strength. You approach every moment, every event, every interaction with an attitude of openness instead of fear, giving instead of taking, acknowledging your strengths rather than your weaknesses. You see abundance and opportunity instead of shortage and trouble.”

Many individuals struggle with low self-esteem. This can result in addictions, depression, a sense of inadequacy, or worse.  There are many theories about how self-esteem is formed in us as individuals, but most believe the feelings we have about ourselves as adults was primarily formed during our early childhood years.  A low self-esteem can hinder us in the workplace, as well.  It can result in an inability to make decisions, unwillingness to assume a new role or task, or a general lack of participation in work or team activities.

So, what can we do to help shape a more positive self-esteem? As adults, are we doomed to life as it is?  Well, of course, I suggest that the answer is, “Yes, we can enhance our self-esteem.  It is possible to shift our thinking to one that is more positive.”  Not suggesting that I am an expert on the subject, I do offer the following 6 key steps that I have observed that work to help enhance self-esteem:

  1. Acknowledge and name your strengths – We all have strengths… things we generally do better than anyone else. However, we often forget them in the face of challenges or our weaknesses overshadow those strengths. Take the time to think about what you do well, where you have been successful in the past, and things you bring to the table that can benefit others.
  2. Position yourself for success – Failure often comes because we put ourselves in positions in which we are highly unlikely to succeed. For example, if I put myself in a situation in which I have agreed to play a concert piano solo with the St. Louis Symphony, I am destined to fail. Learning to position yourself in ways that provide a high percentage of success is one way to avoid those failures that might drag us down. Focus on your strengths and highlight those, not your weaknesses.
  3. Identify the worst-case scenario, then move upward from there – Often, when I am faced with a challenge, I simply ask, “OK, what is the worst case scenario here?” When I look at it from that view, I can see that, at worst, I have a minor delay or easily corrected problem. We can position ourselves for success when you realize that the risk of failure is actually small or minor. This enhances confidence and, ultimately, our success.
  4. Nurture relationships with individuals that can provide honest feedback – We need others in our lives that are not afraid to tell us the truth. It is easy to avoid such individuals, but we need someone that can tell us our strengths and weaknesses. When we hear from someone else that we trust that we are phenomenal, it boosts our confidence.
  5. See the glass as half full – Individuals often have low self-esteem simply because they do not see the value that they routinely add. Seeing things from a positive perspective instead of a negative one takes work, but it can change our entire attitude.
  6. Be realistic – We need to be honest with ourselves. And, in being honest, we are more likely to be objective. The reality is that understanding our value and the contributions we can make will help us realize that we can make a difference and we have to take a back seat to no one else.

Don’t feel as though you must live the rest of your days being inferior and less important than others. Everyone has strengths and everyone has value!  By looking for those strengths that we already possess and building upon them, we can literally change our view.  We can re-build our self-esteem step-by-step, brick-by-brick… if we work at it.  Let’s look for ways to apply the suggestions listed above to allow us a better, more accurate view of our potential and value.  As Vannoy puts it, we need to see more of our “…abundance and opportunity instead of shortage and trouble.”  And, let’s not neglect the honest feedback and advice of a few trusted friends… this might be the tonic we need to push us all forward.

Thanks for all you do! Have a fantastic day and remember, this just might be the day… our very best one yet!

The heartbreak of ‘almost’

bicycle race 2

Maya Abbott of the USA Olympic bicycling team recently led her race through most of the final 10 miles. But, in the final few meters, three other cyclists teamed up and caught her,  finishing seconds ahead of her.  Though her performance was strong, she fell four seconds short in a race lasting nearly four hours of winning a medal.  After years of training, sacrifice, and hard work, she ‘almost’ won a medal.

I recall a story years ago when we lived in Michigan of a local 7-year old girl returning home from school to meet her new baby sister for the first time. She was so excited to see her new sister that she forgot the rules of getting off the bus and ran in front of the bus into the street and was struck and killed.  This still saddens me every time I recall it.  She ‘almost’ made it home.

I think of so many others I know that have had personal losses or disappointments resulting in their own ‘almost’ moments. That term ‘almost’ can be so heartbreaking at times.

However, we all may have the opportunity of turning a disappointing ‘almost’ moment into a positive, victorious moment simply by our own actions. By being persistent, taking initiative, or avoiding procrastination, we can potentially erase our own ‘almost’ event.  For example:

  • By taking the initiative to call or write a friend, we might miss the heartbreak of knowing, “I almost decided to call, but now it is too late.”
  • By driving that project we’re on now to a successful end, we might avoid the disappointing news, “We were so close to success, but we let it lapse at the very end.”
  • By letting that work project wait just another day, we might not have to say, “I’m glad you had a great game, Son, I almost made it to your game on time.”
  • By taking a few extra minutes to help a colleague, you might avoid having to say, “I almost invited her to lunch, but now she has decided to leave the company.”
  • By making the personal sacrifice to gain knowledge or learn a new skill, you might never have to say, “I almost decided to pursue that, but now that opportunity has passed me by.”
  • By ensuring that you always make time for others, you might someday say, “I know I almost lost you – I’m glad we decided to get together occasionally.”

Think today about the ‘almost’ moments or events in your life. What do you need to do today to avoid the heartbreak of your own ‘almost’ moment someday down the road?

Have a wonderful day! Please know that I appreciate being on this journey together with you!


Feeling fully: Getting yourself out of the rut


Back in 1994, Steven W. Vannoy published a book that has played a significant role helping parents raise happy, productive, and responsible children. The book is titled, The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My Children: Parenting from the Heart, and is available through many outlets, if you are interested.  The principles of The 10 Greatest Gifts are terrific for parents or, really, anyone else.  They also apply very well to adults working in the business world.  These principles can help us work better with others and understand, for ourselves, how we can be most productive and effective in every walk of life.

Over the next few weeks, The Porch will feature the principles described by Vannoy with a special emphasis on how they can benefit us in our business lives. So, today, we look at the first principle… Feeling Fully.

When I first saw this principle, I thought, “Ah, feeling full… like right after eating half a deluxe supreme pizza.” However, the principle is feeling FULLY.  In other words, experiencing life with all our senses and with a focus on what is happening all around us.  It is the opposite of being in a rut with your head down.  Feeling fully means to look and operate outside the normal patterns of life… out of your comfort zone.  You have heard the saying, “To enjoy life, you need to stop and smell the roses.”  In a sense, that is feeling fully.  It is broadening your viewpoint to be more inclusive of the people, things, and events around you rather than just slugging through another day doing the same things you did yesterday.

Feeling fully is looking at each new day as an adventure. What new will happen today?  Will I meet anyone new today?  Who will I spend more time getting to know today?  Who will I try to help today?  What can I do today to make the day better for someone else?  How will I be different at the end of today?  What new thing will I learn today?  Feeling fully is not allowing any of your senses to take a pass on the day.  It is turning off the automatic pilot and taking the wheel with your own hands.  Feeling fully is another way of saying ‘Living Fully.”  It is living with intentionality so you don’t miss anything.

A few years ago, my wife and I began looking for a new “project” at our house. Before we knew it, we had found some land in the country, engaged with a home builder, and were designing and having our new home built.  We had never done anything similar to that before.  We took a giant, for us, leap out of our comfort zone to do something we had only dreamed about.  The result has been nothing, but fantastic for us.  We love it in our country home, yet we could have missed it had we not decided to “just go for it.”  We decided that for that one thing, we would live fully.  I would recommend it to everyone to take that risk that you’ve been reluctant to try.

So, let’s get our heads up, our ears open, and our senses attuned to what might come our way today. Thanks for all you do and have a fabulous day!

Let your light shine


There is a children’s song that I learned as a kid and have taught my grandchildren. Part of it goes, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”  Letting your light shine, no matter how dire your circumstances might be, is an important part of adding value to the lives of those around you.  Here are a couple quotes on this important subject:

“There’s always going to be bad stuff out there. But here’s the amazing thing – light trumps darkness every time. You stick a candle into the dark, but you can’t stick the dark into the light.” – Jodi Picoult

“No amount of darkness can overcome any amount of light. Even the smallest, weakness amount of light is a beacon in the midst of darkness.” – Eldon Henson


Just when things seem darkest, your light can make all the difference to someone else, or, to yourself. When we focus on the positive, our blessings, and the good in people around us, the darkness we face tends to fade.  Yes, I don’t know what darkness you might be facing right now, but I can assure you that things always get better in the daylight.

So, take a look around you… are you in a dark spot? If so, find that glimmer of light.  It will make all the difference in your outlook.  And, if you live or work around someone facing the darkness, you just might be their only opportunity for light.  Remember, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”

I’m hoping that everyone reading this today is in a good place. But, if you are not, please know that others around you care and will provide a hand to lift you up, if you give them a chance.

Have a fabulous, wonderful, and most terrific day!

So, you think YOU have it rough….

tree over road

So, life has not been fair with you. No one has it as bad as you.  You were left out when good luck was distributed.  No one knows the roadblocks you have faced or are facing right now.  Let’s look at a few examples of other individuals that have not been treated fairly to see how things have worked out for them:

  • Emily Lemiska recently spoke to one of our manufacturing plants about the difference our products have made in her life. She was born with Klippel-Feil Syndrome (KFS), a defect in the spine in which several vertebrae are joined together. Emily is in constant pain, must rest several times a day, has limited movement, and has adapted her lifestyle in ways that we would all find confining. Yet, she remains an optimist and continues to make contributions to society and others by serving as a pain advocate, author, and motivational speaker. Her life has many obstacles, but she has worked to overcome them and thrive, despite them.
  • Gymnast Simone Biles was abandoned by her mother as a toddler. She was adopted by her grandparents that provided a loving, nurturing home. Their support enabled her to overcome her early childhood challenges to become a three-time world champion and Olympic Gold Medalist. Today, Simone is known as “free-spirited, brightly igniting star” in her sport and, along the way, is inspiring a whole generation of new budding gymnasts.
  • Abraham Lincoln was defeated for state legislature, failed in business, suffered the loss of his fiancé, had a nervous breakdown, was defeated for state speaker of the house, was defeated in a bid to become a Congressman, was defeated in his bid for the Senate (twice), and was defeated in a bid to become Vice-President. Yet, he persevered to become, arguably, the greatest US President.
  • Thomas A. Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, had thousands of failures in his life before his greatest success. Yet, he is credited with saying, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”


We are often quick to give up when obstacles appear in our path. Many times we simply think that life is not treating us fairly.  However, as we see with the examples above, it could be that the obstacles we face are not really obstacles at all, but they are events that actually enhance our lives.  Imagine, had Simone Biles not been raised by her grandparents, she may never had the opportunity to experience gymnastics.  Had Lincoln become frustrated to the point of giving up, what would America be like today?

We need to look at life’s events in a different way.  Could it be that obstacles occur simply to serve as a test of our character?  Will we buckle under the pressure of the obstacles, or will we use them as a springboard to success greater than could have ever happened otherwise?

“If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them.  But, obstacles don’t have to stop you.  If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up.  Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”  – Michael Jordan –

“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.” – Booker T. Washington –

What about you? What obstacle do you need to climb, go through, or work around today?  And, how can you help someone else overcome the obstacles in their path?

Thanks to you all for making this a great journey together!  Have a “top ten” day!