Be Kind

“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.” So said writer George Saunders in a commencement speech at Syracuse University in May 2013. Saunders told the story of a new kid in his 7th grade class who was ignored and occasionally teased for her quirkiness. All these years later, Saunders still feels guilty for not being more kind to her. He touches on a tendency all of us are familiar with—not being kinder when we have opportunity. “What I regret most in my life,” he said, “are failures of kindness.” The speech made such an impression it went viral after the New York Times printed a transcript. Now the kindness message has been turned into a book and a short animated video. The book is Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness. It is available from Barnes and Noble and other bookstores. You can read the transcript of the speech here; it’s a good reminder about a very important principle; whatever you do, be kind. Watch the short animated video here.      ...

What Do You See?

Before I bought my car, I really never noticed Kia Souls on the road. In fact, cars were just cars. However, once I started car shopping, I seemed to noticed everything on the road. I noticed the similarities and I noticed the differences. And I really noticed the Kia Souls. We tend to see what we’re looking for. We are exposed to so much stimuli, there is no way we can take it all in. Just think of the millions of objects and people you see while just driving down a road. But we rarely see them. We have selective perception. That means we only notice what is important to us, is entertaining, or meets a particular need (like when I was car shopping). I will write later on the incredibly important aspect of perception in our lives. Perhaps when you were a kid you took long road trips with your family and played a game out of spotting particular objects. Suddenly whatever you were looking for was everywhere! We are just kids grown tall. We tend to see what we’re looking for. What are you looking for? Conflict? Comparisons? Criticisms? Or are you looking for acts of kindness? Gratefulness? Creativity? Beauty? We find what we look for. If we do the same things over and over, we tend to see the same things. I heard about a man who everyday took a different route between his home and office. That way he was sure to see different things on a regular basis. That was a recommendation when I took a creative communication class. Do things differently. Take a different route. Brush your teeth with the other hand. When we expose ourselves to new situations, we have the chance to see new things and think...

World Beat

There is a rhythm to the universe. Sometimes we humans connect to it. Sometimes we don’t. Here is a great example of everything in...

Think Like A Child

A growing body of research shows that children are naturally inquisitive and creative. However, schools have a way of educating kids right out of their curiosity and imagination. 1 A whopping 84% of children score high in creativity in kindergarten. But only 10% maintain that by the second grade. 2 The British government conducted a study and found that young people lost their ability to think in “divergent or non-linear ways,” a key component of creativity. 3 This sheds new light on what Jesus might have suggested when he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” 4 I’m currently reading How To Get Ideas by Jack Foster and noted the following statements as a personal challenge to think like a child. 5 “Children don’t have blockages because they don’t know about before, only now. “They break rules every time because they do not know the rules exist. “They stand up in the boat and rock it. They shout in church, play with matches and pound the piano wit their fists. “They paint trees orange and grass purple…They have a sense of wonder abut the things most of us take for granted. They ask and ask and ask.” As Neil Postman said, “They enter school as question marks and leave as periods.” Our challenge is to become a question mark again. Give yourself permission to ask questions and think new and creative thoughts.   1 Robert McGarvey “Creative Thinking” USAIR, June 1990,  p. 36 2 http://people.goshen.edu/~marvinpb/11-13-01/Effects-of-Stereotypes.html 3 http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/Database/thinking.html#wither 4 The Bible: Matthew 18:3 5 Foster, Jack (2006). How To Get Ideas. San Francisco: Barrett-Koehler Publishers   Royalty-free image posted by Ned Horton of Horton Web Design http://www.HortonGroup.com; retrieved from...

Life Tweaks

How do you finish this sentence? If at first you don’t succeed take a step back, maybe a nap and have some ice cream. redefine success reload and try again try doing it the way your spouse told you fuggedaboutit (give up and never try again) Of course the old saying is, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” But then again, Albert Einstein said, “ Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Sometimes we need to make adjustments. OK, MOST times we need to make adjustments! Even a little piece of information or help can make all the difference. Today I spotted my first backyard humming bird. I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to attract the little critters for years. Then recently, the owner of a birdfeed shop told me to put out my feeder earlies–on April 15th (tax day in the U.S.)–so the early scouts will find it. Sure enough; it worked! I’ve also tried vegetable gardening with limited amounts of success. Recently, I learned some important tips while attending some urban gardening lectures. Now I know I can’t put out my tomatoes until it looks like the 10-day forecast shows temperatures at night above 55 (Fahrenheit). I also learned never to transplant anything into a dry hole; always fill it with water first. I anticipate these minor tweaks will help me have a more successful garden this year. When we do things and fail, we often assume our complete strategy is flawed. Or we make up silly excuses like, “it was never meant to be.” However, we usually just need to find some additional information and inspiration. Even a little tweak can make all the difference. Are you constantly looking for tweaks?   Hummingbird photo by...

Emotional Intelligence...

What makes for a successful life? That is a central question behind this blog, as well as many research studies, books, leadership seminars and general conversation. For years educators and managers focused on IQ—how SMART people are. But since the early 1990s, another quotient has arisen—EQ—emotional quotient. Instead of measuring mental capacities, EQ measures social capacities. It refers to one’s ability to identify and manage emotions, both in themselves and others. It has to do with our emotional responses to various life experiences such as stress, challenges, grief, conflict and diverse social situations. If you have a high EQ, you are able to recognize your emotional state and that of others. You know how to engage others in ways that draw them to yourself rather than alienate them. You use your emotions to achieve success, built healthy relationships, achieve goals and lead a fulfilling life. If you have a low EQ, you become easily overwhelmed by situations, are unable to read other’s emotions, and find your goals sabotaged by emotions you can’t control. You can take a short test to measure your EQ. The good news is that no matter how developed our EQ, we can all grow in our social and emotional learning (SEL). We can develop emotional and social skills. SEL programs in schools have helped raise both academic achievement and social behavior. According to a lead EQ researcher, Daniel Goleman, schools that teach SEL experience better attendance, see grades improve by an average of 38% and report misbehavior drops of 28%. Learning to be in touch with one’s emotions and know when, where and how to adequately express them, is key for life success and emotional well being. In his book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman wrote that preliminary science is showing the...

Eat Your Veges

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” That’s what I heard growing up.