Is this the one thing holding you back?



Success is a funny (and often fleeting) thing. One day, you’re on top of the world, the next you’re tumbling into an abyss. Or, on a smaller scale, one minute you feel great, and the next — just one phone call — can have you wallowing in self-pity. But is success really so fleeting, and should our emotions be so delicately tied to outside influence? I think not.

In a recent post by author and sales guru Geoffrey James, he argues that the key to lifelong success “is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle: gratitude.” I agree. He continues:

People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.

By contrast, people who lack gratitude are never truly happy. If they succeed at a task, they don’t enjoy it. For them, a string of successes is like trying to fill a bucket with a huge leak in the bottom. And failure invariably makes them bitter, angry, and discouraged.

I really, really hope you see your own attitude in the first paragraph and not the second. But if your gratitude exercise plan needs a bit of work, James has some thoughts on that, too.

The good news is that gratitude, like most emotions, is like a muscle: It gets stronger and more resilient the more you use it. (When I pause to consider this, I can’t help but be quietly aghast at some of the emotions my kids are turning into very strong muscles. Yikes!) James offers one key tip to help you become more aware of your own perspective toward gratitude and to build resilience that will push you toward more success in life. He says:

The best time to exercise gratitude is just before bed. Take out your tablet (electronic or otherwise) and record the events of the day that created positive emotions, either in you or in those around you.

Did you help somebody solve a problem? Write it down. Did you connect with a colleague or friend? Write it down. Did you make somebody smile? Write it down.

What you’re doing is “programming your brain” to view your day more positively. You’re throwing mental focus on what worked well, and shrugging off what didn’t. As a result, you’ll sleep better, and you’ll wake up more refreshed.

More important, you’re also programming your brain to notice even more reasons to feel gratitude. You’ll quickly discover that even a “bad day” is full of moments that are worthy of gratitude. Success becomes sweeter; failure, less sour.

This is outstanding advice. Just before I lay my head on my pillow tonight, this will be one of the things that I record being grateful for. Thanks, Geoffrey James, this is a reminder I needed to hear.

(If you need more, you can read his complete article on

Caine’s Arcade: Recognizing the incredible potential of great imagination

Every once in a while I come across a story where all the planets align, the good people come out on top, and I’m afforded an opportunity to sit back and truly appreciate how powerful a tool the Internet can be. This is one of those stories.

The summary is this: a 9-year-old boy named Caine built an elaborate arcade out of cardboard boxes at his father’s auto parts store. And then he waited for the customers. Eventually, one showed up. I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll let you watch this video and see how it unfolds.

One final thought: There is power, to be sure, in this new inter-connected world. But it pales in comparison to the power of a great imagination.

I’d love to hear what you think…

[Note: I first saw this video about 5pm today. At the time, Caine’s crowd-sourced scholarship fund was at $88,000. Five hours later, it’s grown to nearly $103,000. Further proof, I think, that creativity still matters. I tip my hat to Nirvan Mullick for recognizing a great story when he saw it and thank him warmly for telling it. Here’s a link to Caine’s Arcade’s Facebook page.]


Why the tornado damage may linger forever

HENRYVILLE, IN - MARCH 04:  Lori Hall searches...

HENRYVILLE, IN - MARCH 04: Lori Hall searches for items to salvage in the home of her aunt and uncle after it was destroyed by Friday's EF-4 tornado March 4, 2012 in Henryville, Indiana. At least 37 deaths have been reported from the storm, 4 in Henryville, which ravaged parts of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

The recent tornado outbreak in southern Indiana was a tragedy in every sense and we may feel the effects long after the clean up is complete.

Rolling through on March 2, these storms spawned a category 4 monster that knocked over buildings, uprooted trees, and killed at least thirteen people. Clark County Sheriff Department Maj. Chuck Adams, while referring to the small town of Marysville, said it was “completely gone.”

The photos and videos are shocking and the stories are very sad. But, like always, Hoosiers rise to challenge in every way. Donations and support moved in quickly to help alleviate the suffering. Gov. Daniels has requested federal disaster aid to help rebuild.

They don’t need clothing or household items at this point, but the Red Cross is encouraging people who want to help to make a financial donation. You can help those affected by disasters like the Midwest tornadoes and storms, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Consider making a donation today by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter or to the:

American Red Cross
P.O. Box 37243
Washington, DC 20013

Your help enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters.

Unfortunately, even after the initial shock wears off and the rebuilding is complete, the financial impact on the communities will linger. I haven’t seen any statistics, but I’m wondering how many businesses will be shuttered due to an inability to recover from lost time, inadequate resources, or disruption in vital services. History shows that even minor disruptions can damage a business indelibly: more than 85% of businesses that suffer an unplanned outage don’t survive.

While we will never be able to foresee disasters, both big and small, we can anticipate and plan for them. There are great resources available online to help you devise a disaster recovery/business continuity plan for your business. Try reading this Wikipedia article for an overview of the topic. You can also get a free trial of an online software product to help you create your own plan from Survivor or Statistic.

This is one of those things that never seems to be the highest priority, but it can truly be the difference in the survival of a business. If you own or run a business, you really need to look into putting a plan together soon.

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How does your garden grow?

Abby & Grace

Abby & Grace

You plant a garden. Your flowers don’t grow.

You don’t criticize and yell at your flowers.

You water, fertilize, and nurture them… and your garden grows.

Think about your family, friends, and co-workers.

When you find them not doing what they’re supposed to do, or not doing it in a way you want it done, what do you do? Do you criticize them?

Or do you teach, nurture, and support them?

To Do Today: Don’t criticize others.  Try to understand what they need to be successful and then provide it.

– Friar Telly, II

Silence speaks volumes. Are you listening?

Take time to listen...

Take time to listen…

Sabina Nawaz wrote a post today about setting aside time for silence to allow ideas to emerge and new concepts to form. I don’t think I could agree more. This frenetic pace we’re all on to do more with (seemingly) less time has caused a crises of sorts. If we’re surrounded by even 30 seconds of silence, many of us will reach for our iPhones to check email.

In her post, she talks about coaching executives:

Frequently they tell me about the sacrifices they’ve made for their work: how they’ve slept only three hours the night before, haven’t exercised in months, missed their children’s games. They’re busy because their work is important. They operate under tight timelines and competitive pressures. The stakes are high.

In response, she suggest they try something counter-intuitive: Do less. She recalls John Cage‘s seminal piece 4’33”, which consists of exactly four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence. I don’t know if you’ve heard it, but you might find it difficult to sit still that long. When the BBC aired the performance, they had to turn off their emergency systems that are designed to automatically fill silence with music. I suspect that your emergency systems would kick in almost as quickly as the radio stations. But silence is exactly what all of us need more of.

If you’re stuck on a problem and the answers evade you, silence can lead the way. If you have writer’s block and can’t seem to find the perfect word (or the motivation to look for it), try silence. If your teenager asks for a car, silence might just work wonders. (Just kidding.)

Nawaz suggest some tips for making your forays into the world of silence successful. Intention is the key, she says:

Set aside a specific time. Find two hours a week. It’s helpful to block out times that are least likely to be requested for meetings: Friday afternoons or before colleagues arrive in the morning.

Turn off the noise. This is not the time to answer emails or tackle a long-neglected project.

Experiment until you find the right format for you. Some people stay at their computers but turn off all Internet access; others journal. Some leave the office to avoid interruptions; they go to a separate building, on a long walk, or a drive into the mountains.

Keep your white space dates. Just as you don’t build muscles by showing up sporadically at the gym, perspective isn’t something you find once and then never need to foster again.

For me, I’ve turned off the radio in the car. I often ride without headphones. The hour I spend in Adoration each week is perhaps the most perfect silence I’ve found. You may find it differently… you may also find that anytime you sit quietly for four minutes you fall asleep, which is really telling you something else entirely.