Life is simple… so, why do we make it so hard?

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I have a new “summertime” neighbor that I am getting to know. His name is Ted and he is 87 years old. Ted is a great guy that has a lot of wisdom regarding life. Ted says, “Life is simple… get a job, take care of your family, and do the right thing.” He uses this example to explain most of society’s ills… homelessness, crime, family issues, etc. He feels that if you just follow these three simple rules, many of life’s challenges and problems would be avoided. Do you know… the more I think about Ted’s advice and philosophy, the more I tend to agree with him. Let’s take a look and see how right Ted really is on this.

  1. Get a job – Ted believes that many of today’s issues could be solved if people would just get a job. This would take care of many financial issues, of course, but would also give people something to strive for, a place to go, and something productive to do. He is right that much crime is related to idleness and a feeling of hopelessness that comes with it. Where Ted lives, you can see a “help wanted” sign on the front of nearly every business in town. Finding a job today is much easier than it was just a couple years ago. Getting a job also help secure a stable future. So, Ted is right in many ways when he says getting a job is critical for a successful life.
  2. Take care of your family – Another key component of Ted’s theory is to take care of your family. In other words, fulfill your responsibilities. This means to provide basic needs, help your children get an education, and support family members emotionally. Go to your kid’s events. Ensure they understand the importance of education. Take care of your house and property. Be there for them. Love your spouse. In short, do what you can to help your spouse and children be prepared to thrive in life. That is one of our basic responsibilities.
  3. Do the right thing – Finally, Ted believes we should all do what we already know is the right thing. We all know what to do… no one needs to tell us. Be patriotic. Serve others. Pay our bills. Be a true friend. Help out those than need a hand. In short, live your life with character and integrity. Be a giver, not a taker.

So, what do you think? Sure, Ted’s philosophy is simple and makes sense. Why do we have to make it so complex and difficult. If we just follow these three simple rules, many of our problems… and, perhaps, many of society’s problems… could be solved.

Thanks for all you do! This could be our best day yet!

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Replacing confusion with wisdom

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I love good guitar music. In fact, I’ve often thought of getting a guitar and learning to play. I have had this notion for many years. The problem is… I like to do other things too much. Playing the guitar well takes thousands of hours of practice and dedication. You see, I have the desire to play, but lack the determination. You can have all the desire in the world, but if you do not put that desire into action, you have gained nothing. Don’t confuse desire with determination.

People often get confused about basic concepts. Someone once said, “Don’t confuse effort with results.” This essentially means that some people always look busy, but, at the end of the day, their work product doesn’t measure up. We need to focus more on actual results than the “appearance” of work.

I have accumulated a few other similar concepts that can be confusing, if not fully understood. Let’s look at a few:

  • Don’t confuse words with actions – Promises, commitments, and intent is easy to express with words. But, these words do not always turn into actions. Unless we put real effort to our words, they are empty and meaningless.
  • Don’t confuse a boss with a leader – Leadership results from commitment, service, vision, and collaboration… not from a title. Real leaders don’t need a title to get things done.
  • Don’t confuse compliments with the truth – Everyone likes to be stroked with words. However, there are times when we need to hear the unvarnished truth from others. We rarely improve when we always hears positives. Truthful feedback is often the very thing we need to rise to the next level.
  • Don’t confuse a meeting with progress – I have frequently seen “progress reports” that state something like this, “A meeting was held to discuss next steps.” This comment is usually inserted simply because no other real progress has occurred. A meeting that generates real progress is much different than one that occurs simply to “kick the can down the road.”
  • Don’t confuse a title with authority – People often believe that a person with the right title has the authority to get things done. Not necessarily true! The real authority or individual with the power to accomplish something often is unexpected or at a level much lower than you might imagine.
  • Don’t confuse money with happiness – Financial strength does not correlate well with overall happiness. A lack of money can be life-limiting, but true happiness is more a function of attitude and contentment than it is financial success.
  • Don’t confuse connections with friendships – In today’s world, we tend to accumulate and value connections or our network. However, when you begin valuing connections more than relationships or friendships, you lose a significant opportunity in life. We all need to take the time to grow and nurture these true relationships.
  • Don’t confuse cost with quality – There is a tendency to believe that you always “get what you pay for.” This is not always true. Taking the time to truly investigate investments can help ensure that you get value or quality rather than simply a name brand.
  • Don’t confuse a successful regulatory inspection with a strong compliance position – For those of us working in FDA/Global-regulated industries, there is a tendency, especially with top management, to believe that a good regulatory inspection equates to a strong compliance posture. Not necessarily true! Nor is the reverse… a difficult inspection does not mean you lack a strong commitment to compliance. ┬áCompliance requires a long, consistent dedication to doing the right things day-after-day. There is no short-cut. And, one good inspection doesn’t necessarily mean that you have conquered compliance risk.
  • Don’t confuse credentials with ability – There is a great temptation, when looking at resumes, to make assumptions based on the credentials/experience provided. However, I think we can all relate that great credentials do not necessarily correlate with ability. Let’s avoid the trap of making quick judgments and look deeper… look for evidence of value and results that can make a difference long-term.
  • Don’t confuse silence with concurrence – When dealing with issues and teams, we often are tempted to assume that silence, or lack of disagreement, means that concurrence has been achieved. In fact, the exact opposite may be the case. Some individuals are reluctant to voice disunity, especially when they are in the vast minority. Seeking input from those that appear to be silent may reveal input that is sorely needed and lacking.

I could go on and on with additional examples. But, let’s stop for now. So, the take-away for today is this… take the time to fully consider what you see and what you get. Unless you look beyond the surface of people, events, and actions, you might miss the real point or value. We must stop taking the easy way out and look beyond the obvious. Only then, can we eliminate the confusion that can come otherwise. Let’s pause to seek wisdom that can allow us to be better and do better than we would have otherwise.

Have a great day!

Let’s go fishing!

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She held her baby close, rocking him as he slept. She checked his diaper to determine if it needed changed. She nuzzled him and kissed him on the forehead. She talked to him quietly and said he enjoyed the music playing in the background. However, he didn’t respond to her. He didn’t move or make a sound. You see, the baby was just a doll and the mother was an 80+ year old in an elderly care facility.

I watched this lady care for her child recently and wondered how it is that some individuals become fixed at a certain point in their life without a chance to move forward. In the same facility, that evening, was another woman that continuously called for and spoke to her dog… one that didn’t exist.

What did I learn or observe from this experience just the other evening:

  1. We need to be thankful for what we have… today! – We all have something to be thankful for, yet we are so consumed with our “to do” list for today that we often forget just how blessed we are. Don’t miss it!
  2. We need to be compassionate to those around us – No one goes through life expecting or planning to spend their final years with severe memory problems, yet an increasing number of us will likely be impacted either directly or indirectly. We need to consider how we can make a day better for those impacted or those that care for them.
  3. We need to remember that time passes quickly – Time is fleeting. It passes before our eyes in a blink. Don’t get so caught up in today’s troubles, problems, schedule, or responsibilities that you fail to enjoy the simple things. We all need to smile every day!

I wonder, if I ever have a pause in my memory, what stage in my life will I be caught. Will it be in my own childhood, or when my children were young, or later with my grandchildren? Will I be playing baseball or fishing or mowing the lawn? In reality, I’m not planning to worry about it today because I have things I plan to enjoy. As someone once said, “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”

Enough of this… I’m heading to the lake for some fishing! Enjoy your day because it could possibly be your very best yet!

3 Questions that define the heart and character of any person

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Humans are complex creatures with complex characteristics. Understanding what “makes a person tick” can take a lifetime for some. Despite this, is it possible, in just three questions, to determine the heart and character of a person? I believe that there are three questions, when answered honestly, that can provide significant clarity about both the character and heart of anyone. These questions provide a glimpse into what kind of employee… what kind of spouse… what kind of friend… what kind of neighbor… what kind of adult… a person is or will be. OK, so here are the questions:

  1. What is your passion? – You can ask this question in several other ways, such as, “What motivates you?” Or, “What is important to you?” The point is to understand what it is that drives the person. When you understand an individual’s passion, you can peek into their purpose (or heart). If the individual is motivated by short-term, self-focused desires, he/she will likely have difficulty submitting to authority, seeking the input of others, and working well with others. A person’s passion speaks volumes about their motivation, enthusiasm, drive, and spirit. A person is at their best doing what they love. Almost as importantly, learning the “why” behind their passion can help uncover how they are shaped and what or who shaped them. Passion is a great definer that we should seek to uncover.
  2. Who do you serve? – I believe there are two kinds of people… those who want to be served and those who serve. In other words, there are givers and takers. When you ask a person who they serve, you are asking them to reveal which of these kinds they really are. If they say they serve themselves, their company, their boss, or someone that can impact directly their lives in a tangible way, chances are they are takers… individuals intent primarily on advancing their own cause. You will find most narcissists in this category. On the other hand, if the person says they serve their family, their country, individuals that cannot help themselves, their God, or something relating to the greater good, you can assume they live to give. Finding a person’s “serve” reveals much about how they will treat others. It also reveals much about their trustworthiness and overall attitude about life. You can also learn much about an individual when you learn why they serve who they serve. This reveals something about their heart.
  3. What are you collecting? – This question may seem out of character for such an important assessment. However, I believe everyone is collecting something. Some are collecting dollars, or things, or material wealth. Others are collecting friends, family, memories, or items we might call intangible. When you learn what a person “collects”, you learn much about their inner drive and motivation, their needs, and their attitude on life. And, when you learn “why” they collect what they collect, you learn key pieces of their character.

So, you can learn much about a person with these three simple questions. Their passions reveal their purpose and drive. Their “serve” reveals how they view others and whether they are givers or takers. What they collect tells you what they view as important. When viewed through these filters, you can almost always identify individuals that will be positive life influences or those that will be negative. These questions can also serve each of us as an internal checklist to help us evaluate whether our own lives are where we want or hope them to be. Try it by asking yourself these questions now, but you must answer honestly.

That’s it! Have a great day and consider how you can make a positive difference for someone else today.