The gift of integrity


Today, we look at the eighth of The 10 Greatest Gifts principles outlined by Steven W. Vannoy in his 1994 book.  You will recall that we examined “abundance” 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 integrity?  Integrity is “doing the right things even when no one else is watching.” Integrity is that life value that means you will not cut any important corners, that you will be strong in the face of opposition, and that you will stand up for what’s right.  A person with integrity will also put others first and seek to aid and encourage them when life’s challenges become difficult.  A life lived with integrity is one that exhibits empathy, service, boldness, and love toward others.

Why is integrity important to teach our children? Well, when children learn integrity at an early age (things like sharing, helping, honesty, independence, and kindness), they become adults that contribute to society and make the most productive and highest performing employees.  One of our key goals as parents should be to create independent, contributing members of society that serve others.  Much of what we read in the news is the result of children that did not learn integrity growing up.

My father owned a welding business in the oilfields of Southern Illinois. As a teenager, I worked in the oilfields doing “grunt work” for him.  As you might imagine, the characters working in the oilfields covered the gamut.  Most were rough and tough, but they worked hard.  Even then, it was easily evident to me which men had integrity.  I didn’t even know what integrity was back then, but you could certainly see it.  Men with integrity worked hard, even when their boss was not around.  They did it right even if taking a short-cut would have saved them time.  They worked in the mud and grime without complaining.  And, they were glad to have the work to support their families.  Even to a teenager, integrity would shine like a beacon in those few men in that oilfield.  It made a significant impression on me then and still does today.

Integrity is a gift that, hopefully, you received at an early age from your parents. However, anyone can become a man/woman of integrity starting today, if desired.  Doing the right thing, day-after-day, in activities big and small starts to build that internal stream of integrity that eventually becomes a river.

Thank you to so many individuals in my life right now that demonstrate integrity every day in every circumstance. I do appreciate you!  Have a fabulous and productive day!



The spoon theory


Recently, I have been exposed to a number of articles and blogs by individuals suffering from chronic, long-term pain or other neuro-muscular diseases. There is a long list of these diseases (lupus, MS, GBS, endometriosis, CIDP, CRPS, ALS, cancer, etc.) that, almost certainly, someone reading this experiences or someone you love suffers.  For those with these diseases, there is the constant struggle of trying to live a normal life, yet knowing that everything you choose to do means there is something else you cannot do.

I read a description of this constant struggle written by Christine Miserandino. She calls it The Spoon Theory.  (You can read her full story at this link  It is rather long, but, let me try to summarize Miserandino’s point in this synopsis.

Christine was having lunch with her best friend one day. Her friend knew her very well.  They had been college roommates and remained close for many years after that.  However, despite the fact that her friend had seen Christine suffer with her Lupus, she still didn’t seem to understand the overall impact the disease had on Christine.  So, in the restaurant that day, Christine sought to illustrate what life with Lupus meant. 

Christine found a dozen spoons from tables near her. She gave them to her friend.  She told the friend that every activity of the day would cost her a spoon.  Preparing breakfast cost a spoon.  Getting showered and dressed cost her two spoons.  She told her that when she was healthy, she thought she had an endless supply of spoons and didn’t have to think about them at all.  However, now with Lupus, she had to think about everything… if her hands hurt, she couldn’t wear a blouse with buttons… if she had bruises that day, she had to wear long sleeves… if she had a fever, she needed a sweater.  And, everything took longer than necessary.  

So, very quickly, Christine’s friend had only a couple spoons left. She had to decide whether to use them to cook dinner, clean up her apartment, stop by the store for groceries, or make time for a friend.  The spoons were quickly used up and she still had things she needed to do.  She might borrow one of tomorrow’s spoons, but that would leave tomorrow even more challenging.  If she ran out of spoons, she might not make it to work at all.  And, she rarely had a spoon left to go out for dinner or fun with her friends.  

Soon, Christine’s friend was crying. After all these years, she was finally understanding what life is like for Christine or anyone else with one of these chronic diseases.  These individuals have a very limited number of spoons and, because things are more difficult for them, little tasks take more spoons that would be required for a healthy person.  Christine explained that everything in her life now required her to consider how many spoons it would take and how many she would have left.  Everything required planning.  She could not do things spontaneously and often was left out of activities with friends.  Christine concluded her time educating her friend by explaining that every spoon is a blessing for her.  She never wastes or takes a spoon for granted.  Yet, she sees others wasting spoons every day. 

I have not done Christine’s story justice with my synopsis, but I hope you get the point. Healthy individuals do not realize how blessed their lives really are.  Chronically ill individuals never waste a spoon.  And, no one truly understands how difficult life is for a chronically ill individual unless you experience it every day.  We need to realize again how blessed we are AND we need to consider how we might help our family, work, neighborhood, and casual acquaintances that live with these diseases every day.

So, for today, let’s be thankful for all the spoons we hold and, if we can, let’s try to share a spoon or two with someone that might just be using their last one now.

Have a great day! Today could be our “very best day yet” – so, be ready for it!


The gift of abundance


Today, we look at the seventh of The 10 Greatest Gifts principles outlined by Steven W. Vannoy in his 1994 book.  You will recall that we examined “communication” 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 abundance?  Vannoy defines it like this as he discussed the importance of this gift to our children:


“The gift of abundance is what I consider the key to all the other qualities and values that make our lives and our children’s lives so fulfilling. It allows us to view the world as a piece of endless choices, endless opportunities, endless chances, endless growth.  There is always another day and another way.  It’s a way of approaching the world in degrees of strength, instead of degrees of weakness, of living with degrees of love and goodness instead of degrees of fear.”


Vannoy clearly believes that abundance is something we can give or acquire. Thus, it is not just something that happens… it is something we attain!  So, how can we attain a life-view of abundance?  What is it that makes us see the world with optimism, strength, confidence, and joy?  These are not easy questions, but let me take a shot at listing a few actions we can take:

  1. Begin each day thinking it will bring good, not bad… attitude! – Instead of thinking of all the bad things that might come your way today, why not concentrate on the good? Why not consider how fortunate you are to have a job, a family, a home, friends, and good health? Why not count your blessings, not your problems? Why not simply assume that this will be a good and exciting day?
  2. Consider each day as an opportunity to give, not receive… serve! – The world does not rotate around us. When you serve others, it enhances your own life. Why not look for a way to add value to someone else’s life today? Why not look for some way you can turn a bad day into a good day for someone else?
  3. Realize that each day is a chance to experience life… adventure! – We are only promised today. Tomorrow may never come. Look for ways to take a risk today. Get out of your comfort zone. Go wild and crazy (within reason, of course) and see how it changes your day.
  4. Identify the critical few things that must be done today… prioritize! – Too many people do not experience abundance because they have too much on their plate. We burden ourselves with too busy lives and too many responsibilities. As a result, we leave others completely out of our lives. So, for today, identify those top three things that must get done. Everything cannot be top priority! Pick a few that you focus on and relax on the others. Major on the major items.
  5. Plan at least one thing new for each day… grow! – Unless we are intentional about personal growth, it won’t happen. Do something new and different today. Look for a new experience. Get out of your rut and see how it changes your perspective.
  6. Do at least one fun thing for yourself each day… refresh! – “All work and no play…” Plan something that YOU want to do today… then do it!
  7. Share your day and yourself with someone else… love! – Life is not meant to be lived alone. Just for today, look for a way to share your life with someone else perhaps greater than you’ve ever done or more than makes you comfortable.


“You are exchanging one day of your life for what you do today. Make it count!”

Have a day of abundance today!

Seize today


You have heard the comment, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” I had a stark reminder of this recently.  My daughter and her family moved this summer from Georgia to Utah.  They had lived in a beautiful, friendly neighborhood in Georgia for six years.  Essentially, it has been the only place their three kids have ever known as home.  Well, the other day at school, my seven-year-old grandson in Utah finished his assignment early.  The teacher told the kids they could turn their paper over and write whatever they wanted on the back.  Well, my grandson misses his best friend, Bear, in Georgia terribly, so he wrote Bear a letter telling him how much he missed him.  Those two had been nearly inseparable their entire lives.  They were together at one of their houses or playing outside nearly non-stop these past six years, so this separation has been tough on those two little guys.  My grandson recopied the letter and mailed it to Bear that evening when he got home.  The next day, Bear’s Mom called my daughter and said Bear had had a really bad day missing his friend.  It had been an especially tough time for Bear at precisely the same time my grandson was writing his letter in school.  So, they had a FaceTime call that day to reconnect.

This story of my grandson and Bear demonstrate once again the importance of living in the moment. So often, we tie ourselves up in knots worrying about tomorrow, or next week, or anything else so much that we miss the very pleasures and joys of today.  We are only promised today, so allowing ourselves to miss this moment is, in some respects, cheating us out of something that we may miss tomorrow.  How many of us will look back someday and say about today, “that was a really good day.”  Or, “I wish I could go back to the way things were then.”  Or, “I wish I had cherished that time we had just a bit more.”  Or, “I just assumed those good times would go on, but, just like that, it was over.”

Let’s not miss it today! Look around your life and cherish today those people, opportunities, and situations you find yourself in.  Though they might not be our own personal “best of times”, we may still look back someday and wish we had today just one more time.

Receiving and passing along the gift of communication


Today, we look at the sixth of The 10 Greatest Gifts principles outlined by Steven W. Vannoy in his 1994 book.  You will recall that we examined “the gift of humor” 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 communication?  Vannoy defines it like this as he discussed the importance of this gift to our children:

“With the gift of communication they can express their own ideas as well as hear different ideas from others. They can express feelings as easily as facts.  Their sphere of influence in the world has almost no limits.  And, in the practical world, it is probably the most essential business skill they will ever learn.  It is a gift of enormous potential.”

Vannoy clearly believes that teaching (and/or attaining) the gift of communication is important for several reasons. Let’s explore these and a few others I have personally observed:

Communication skills are important for life and business success because:

  1. It helps us express our own ideas clearly and concisely – If you can adequate express your own thoughts and ideas, it provides a link to all others. It allows you to share with others in ways that non-communicators cannot do.
  2. It facilitates our ability to hear the ideas and thoughts of others – Good listening skills falls under the “communication umbrella”, yet, many individuals fail to understand its importance.
  3. It conveys not our feelings in addition to facts – Because our feels are so expressive, it is important that we are able to convey how we feel, not just what we know.
  4. It helps us convince and influence others – The ability to communicate is paramount in convincing or influencing others. Thus, it becomes a strong tool for leadership, collaboration, and, simply, just getting things done.
  5. It provides a pathway into our mind – Good communication skills reveal our knowledge about a subject — not just the what, but why it is important.
  6. It provides a pathway into our heart – Good communication skills also help others see the true person behind our words. Good communication is enhanced when others see the heart behind it.
  7. It provides direction – Communication always leads to “what’s next.” It helps us know what we can or need to do before we communication again. It is difficult to be a great leader if you have poor communication skills.

It is true that the gift of communication may, more than another other thing, provide an avenue to life success. When an individual can convey, through clear and concise oral or written communication, their thoughts and ideas, the doors of success fly open.  Conversely, an inability to properly communicate can severely hinder your ability to succeed.  Teaching strong communication to children, or, learning it for ourselves is a critical life success factor.  And, for me personally, have the ability to communication through writing is invaluable in the business world.  By learning to write simply and reflect what you think in “plain words”, you can overcome many other hurdles that come your way.

So, there you have it… the sixth of Vannoy’s 10 Greatest Gifts. Think about what this says to you and what action you might need to take.

Let’s all have a fantastic day!


Don’t overlook those lousy lice!


I recently visited with a German-trained physician that told me, “We have an old saying in Germany… just because you have fleas doesn’t mean you don’t also have lice.” Now, before you decide you need to stay away from me from now on, he was talking figuratively, not literally.  What he was saying is that you can focus on the obvious, more visible problem, but don’t overlook the possibility that there are two causes or problems that must be addressed.

This is great advice for us, as well. In our work life, we are often tempted to focus our attention on the most visible or most likely problem or root cause we face.  We tend to be problem-solvers and focus our attention on the first known problem or root cause that we identify.  When we find one likely root cause, we tend to stop looking for other contributing factors or causes that could influence the outcome.  We are trained to identify the one true root cause and eradicate that.  However, there may be another cause lurking that could impact the issue we are experiencing.

We also tend to be single-minded when facing issues or problems outside work. Many of us typically focus on the biggest or most visible issue we face.  We think that dealing with that issue effectively will restore peace.  However, we should remember that “we can eliminate the fleas, but still be plagued by those lousy lice.”  I know that I am glad to have a physician with this viewpoint and attitude.  By exploring all possibilities, we are more likely to truly solve our problems.

Let’s be thankful today for all the blessings in our lives. Have a terrific day!  Thanks for all you do!


A time to laugh: the gift of humor


Today, we look at the fifth of The 10 Greatest Gifts principles outlined by Steven W. Vannoy in his 1994 book.  You will recall that we examined “the gift of balance” 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 the gift of humor?  Vannoy defines it like this:

“Not teasing, not taunting someone because they’re different or less powerful, but a genuine expression of joy at the pleasures and ironies and foibles of life.”

Most people underestimate the value and power of a good sense of humor. One of our colleagues recently mentioned to me that he obtained a job in a competitive process once simply because he showed a sense of humor during the interviews.  When you show a sense of humor, you show your humanity and earn credibility (assuming the humor is appropriate).

Don’t feel you need to be serious in every moment in every situation. Don’t be afraid to exhibit your true personality.  Showing a sense of humor demonstrates that you want to be relevant and connect with others.  Following are a few thoughts that might help you learn more about this important attribute (note that all of these are anonymous, unless otherwise stated):

  • Don’t worry if plan A fails, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet.
  • I’m not clumsy! The floor just hates me, the table and chairs are bullies, and the walls get in my way.
  • Doing nothing is hard, you never know when you’re done.
  • If you’re hotter than me, then that means I’m cooler than you.
  • My friend, remember that without stupidity there wouldn’t be intelligence, and without ugliness there wouldn’t be beauty, so the world needs you after all.
  • Stop texting me in the middle of texting you… now I have to change my text.


  • Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else. – Alison Boulter
  • Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? – Edgar Bergen
  • My cell phone is acting up, I keep pressing the home button but when I look around, I’m still at work.
  • There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot. – Steven Wright
  • A joke is a very serious thing. – Winston Churchill
  • There is no better moment to postpone something you don’t want to do other than right now.


  • I just wanted you to know that somebody cares. Not me, but somebody does.


Enjoy the day! Find something (or someone) that makes you smile.


The ‘courage’ of encouragement


You may not believe this, but I have never run a marathon. Yes, that’s right… not one.  However, I have always been fascinated by the crowds that do run.  I guess I am even more fascinated by the crowds that line these events.  Large marathon events often draw thousands of fans that line the 26+ mile route the cheer on the participants.  When you see the interviews or comments of participants after the race, you often hear them comment that they reached a point part-way through the race when they thought they couldn’t go on, but the crowds of encouragers cheered them on and they received a burst of energy that held them to the end.

Have you ever stopped to understand why encouragement is important? When you look at the root of this word, you see the word ‘courage’ right in the middle of it.  Normally, you think of courage as that intestinal ingredient that spurs us onward in the face of great opposition.  You think of the Lion in the Wizard of Oz that asks the wizard to award him with courage to help him be the King of the Jungle.  Courage is that element that gives us boldness, strength to face an adversary, and exceptional ability to overcome long odds.  So, when you encourage someone, you are essentially giving them courage to keep going… to stay the course… to keep doing more than they think they can… hold their head high…   When you encourage someone, you give them strength to endure… to finish the race… to overcome their hurts and obstacles.  Encouragement is the only thing, at times, that keeps one going or allows one to keep putting one step in front of another.

I truly appreciate encouragement. And, it seems it comes at just the right time.  I have a hand-written note from an anonymous individual that I keep on my desk.  It is a note of encouragement that I remove from the envelope at least once a month and read.  When I am feeling particularly challenged, that little note helps me get through the fog.  And, when I am encouraged, it motivates me to encourage others.  That’s how it works.  When someone else takes the time and effort to encourage you, you naturally want to go encourage someone else.  It is contagious.

So, today, please consider how you can ‘give courage’ to someone else by encouraging them. You never know when a positive word from you can make the difference to another.  And, you should never assume that someone doesn’t need encouragement.  Everyone needs to be encouraged sometime!  So, think about how you might help someone else run the last half of their own marathon.  Think of someone that might be on the verge of quitting, or someone that is discouraged, or just someone that has made a difference to you and give them a pat on the back (or a note or call or email or personal visit or that overdue thanks).  You might never know how much it is needed or appreciated.

Thanks for all you do to make the world a better place. Let’s go have one of those “best days yet!”


You can be different


I recently read the following story on, a website that has stories, videos, and inspirational materials that you might find useful. Take a look…..

RISING ABOVE: You Can Be Different (by Fran)

My parents had split up and my sister and I were in a foster home. It wasn’t a nice place to be and all of the children were eventually removed. It wasn’t a good start in life. Some of the kids that were there were already well on their way to a life of crime. Waiting for the bus one morning they engaged in screaming at one of the teachers as she drove by. I was told that they would beat me up if I didn’t scream at her too. Those were still the days of slapping your hand with a ruler if you misbehaved in school. She was my teacher. I crept into the classroom. My eyes and head down. I heard my name and cowered my way to the teachers desk fully expecting the ruler. She took me by the arm and pulled me close as I was pulling the other way. She said stop … Come here. She gently cupped her hands around my ear and said ‘you can be different’. I was stunned. I looked her in the eyes and she said again ‘you can be different’, you don’t have to be like them’. It made all the difference. It was an epiphany that struck at a very early age. I became successful in life and never felt the need to ever engage in activities that were damaging to another person. I could be me. The beating in the flesh was far less than the beating I took in my soul the day I was so unkind to my teacher … And yet she gave me a life well lived with those few simple words … You can be different.

When I read this, I couldn’t help but think of all the other ways Fran’s teacher could have reacted to her incident. She could have punished her.  She could have lectured her.  She could have embarrassed her in front of the entire class.  But, she took that moment as a quiet ‘teaching moment’ that made a difference in Fran’s life.

We all have such moments in our home and work life. We have events that demand a response from us.  We might choose from a variety of responses that often occur without any thought as to the ultimate impact of our actions.  We might strike out in anger or express disappointment or even outrage.  However, when we assume the position of “teacher” we begin looking at events from a different viewpoint.  As a “teacher” we begin to see events as an opportunity to make a POSITIVE lasting difference in a person’s life.  Honestly, we don’t have to be like everyone else when these events occur… we can be different!

Thanks for all you do! Have a wonderful day filling with ‘teaching moments.’

The “Balance Continuum”

Balance Continuum (ver3)

Yesterday, we discussed the importance of balance in aspects of our lives. As promised, the graphic below illustrates my thoughts on achieving proper balance in ten different categories or behaviors.  Take a look at the graphic above.

What can you learn about yourself by reviewing these items and seeing what true balance looks like? Does this reveal changes that may be needed in your own life or behaviors?

Have a truly fabulous day! Thanks for all you do!