Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ready To Take the Plunge?

Are you ready to take the plunge? If so, do you feel your heart pumping, palm sweating and your skin tingling? Take a deep breath, let go and push over the precipice; the rewards will be beyond your expectations.

No matter what you maybe wailing and gnashing over, once you make the decision to "go for it" and your get into the stream of the unknown and exciting you will know what it's like to have courage. And people who have experience with courage know that each dive over the cliff builds more confidence and strength. From going back to school to changing careers to delivering to facing up to your liabilities, making a decision to change takes courage. And courage as you know is not the absence of fear. The fireman-woman, the EMT worker, the middle school teacher, blind athlete running all move through fear with courage when they take that plunge.

How old do you need to get before you go after what you really want? How long to you want to keep your dreams in prison? How many more people do you need to see get in that 'kayak' and slip off the rocky edge before you take a risk and "go for it?" Only you can answer that. Sometimes people need help getting in that little vessel. You don't have to do it alone. So, dare to dream really big and get in that kayak!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blind Man Running

Less than there weeks to go until the New York City Half-Marathon and I have already won the race for happiness.

After training for several months with blind runner Dale Layne and the WABC Run with Heidi Program I've become as close to anyone as I possibly could. Literally. Take a look at the interview with Dale that aired this evening and you'll see what we all see: one person helping to inspiring others. I keep telling Dale that I'm getting more out of our relationship than he is but he doesn't understand. In the training and development industry we would call this Observational Learning. There is definitely a difference between inspiration and pity. I feel no pity for Dale only respect and love for a great blind man running.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Long And the Short of It

I am never ceased to be amazed over the parallel of life and running. There are good days and bad days in both. A happy, successful life takes a certain amount of skills and with practice it gets easier, better and more fun. The same goes for running.

When planing goals, there is the over all goal, "I am going to run the New York City Marathon and I am going to run it in 4 hours." In order to get to the long-term goal we need to set short term and mid-term goals all of which have tasks attached to them. And the goal of any task? That's right, to complete them. Along the route to accomplishing your long-term goal you'll reassess your short term goals and tasks. When you meet the goals that you have set for yourself a sense of accomplishment, confidence and pride will begin to fill you. And those feelings will beget more success. I never thought that I'd be able to reduce my marathon time by twenty-five minutes within eight months but with hard work, I did.


video

Yesterday, in the park with video camera in hand I captured the runner in the above video. I noticed his easy gait and powerful stride and thought, "What a good analogy for life": easy does it but do it.

After revealing myself to "Ben" he told me that he was training for the Chicago marathon and that he was in the "cool down" stage of his day's run. (Warm-up, cool-down. The same goes for life's activities.) We shared some thoughts on running and then parted ways. With "Ben's" approval I put a little humor into the above video. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

To Do or Not to Do?

"If you really wanted it badly enough you'd do something about it!" Many people have said this to me and others countless times in the past and some of this statement holds truth however, some of us just can't seem to do anything "about it" no matter how badly we want it. What’s the matter, fear of success, fear of failure? Does it really matter? Well, it doesn’t matter any longer to me because I’ve been around long enough to know that ‘it’ won’t happen unless I take action. Even if that action is just one small step. If you’ve just had a twinge of anxiety after reading the last sentence than this is about you. Has this ever happen to you: driving down the road at a snails pace or standing online at the motor vehicle department a great idea hits you between the eyes. Your follow-up thoughts to this great idea of yours may have been, wow, I can’t wait to get started! Or, that’ll never work. Besides, someone else has probably already thought of it. Okay, you know the drill; you believe you are what you tell yourself you. You also know that there are countless examples of people, other people who actually took action on their ideas and made their dreams come true. We’ve all read about ‘them’ and yet, it hasn’t propelled you to take action. Can you relate?

All those ‘other people’ out there are just that, people. They are no different from you and me. The only difference is that they took their ideas and took action. Maybe, their first step was to take an hour to investigate if their idea is doable or, they ran the idea past a supportive friend or colleague to get their take. Here’s the secret you’ve been waiting to read: the idea, the dream, the new life won’t happen unless you take action. Impressed? I thought you would be. You’re probably thinking, this guy’s a genius. I know I need to take action but I just can’t seem to get started. Here’s secret number two. Are you ready? Hold onto your seat because it’s so simple a concept that you’ll probably smack yourself in the head after reading: it’s okay if you do nothing. Really. It’s absolutely fine to do nothing at all but daydream. You’ll still be loved by your friends and family but and this is a big BUT will it be okay with you? Will living with the thought If, I had gone through with that idea I had I could be living the life I always wanted, be all right with you? If you answered yes then that’s fine. You’re the only one who can make that call. However, if you continue to do nothing and have an ongoing and accompanying mental thorn in the back of your head that talks to you on a daily basis and says, something’s not right, please change it! Then it’s time to take action. Then ask yourself, what tiny, teeny action can I take today? And on a daily basis ask yourself, are my actions bringing me closer to achieving my goals or further away? It’s truly that simple. The work of getting what you want is just that, work. Even those “other people” whose vocations are their avocations still have to do things that are not their favorite tasks. Start somewhere. Start today, right now. Ask for help. Have an idea party. Stop daydreaming and start day-doing.

Feel free to contact me with questions which, is an action that will bring you one step closer to getting what you want.

Monday, July 13, 2009

An Apple a Day

Benjamin Franklin coined, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Franklin had no idea when he wrote his now famous phrase that consumers would one day have to differentiate between apple the fruit and Apple the computer giant. I like apples. Particularly Gala apples. I eat a lot of apples to satiate my sugar cravings instead of processed sweets.

When I want to satiate my need for excellent customer service I go to the
nearby Apple Store in Manhattan. It's truly a fantastic experience and I say this as one who designs and delivers customer service training programs.

I visited the Fifth Avenue store as the "x" keypad on my MacBook Pro became loose while I was cleaning the keyboard. Because Apple has their act together, I was able to make an appointment online for the day and time that was convenient for me. Upon entering the store I made my way to the Genius Bar where I was promptly greeted and my appointment was
confirmed. The Genius behind the bar was friendly, knowledgeable, (one would expect that from a genius) and expedited my loose pad problem quickly. My "x" key, as you can see is in fine working order thanks to the great staff at the Apple Store.

Because it's such a pleasant and wonderful environment I went searching for an external drive for my wife's computer. Jason, one of the many smiling and helpful Apple associates asked if I needed direction and within five minutes I purchased the appropriate device without having to wait in line for a cashier. (All sales associates at Apple carry their own wireless checkout machine and zipo-presto I was out the door and into the sunshine.) Now that's turning a 'problem' into a sale: I spent $150 when I had no intention of doing so.

As I rode my eco-friendly bicycle home, I felt a smile grow on my face and attributed it to the great experience I just had at Apple.) How many times have you had a smile put on your face by a retail store?) I wish that I had regular experiences such I this from other companies that I do business with but sadly, that's not the case.

So what does Apple do right? Here's my thoughts:

  • Constant innovation
  • Excellent products and service
  • Exceed customer expectations
  • Friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff both in-store and online
  • They always put the product in your hand - they let you touch it, play with it
  • Their customers are appreciated and recognized
  • Their stores are well organized and merchandised
  • A purchase is not a chore but a pleasurable experience
Those are just a few of the ways that Apple gets it right and for these reasons and others I will savor my Apple everyday.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Horses & Pigeons Save The World

On Tuesday after one of our runs in Central Park, my friend Dale and I were talking about the world's troubles, with all of its strife, hatred and senseless warring. We agreed that all hatred and killing came down to the ego and its irrational fear; fear of losing something: one's security for example. We also agreed that one ingredient towards a peaceful existence is tolerance. You can witness this exemplary behavioral practice on any given day or hour of the week on a New York City Subway. It takes a lot of tolerance to live in a city like New York underground or above. So, if we can practice tolerance on a subway car why can't we practice it elsewhere?

It's been said many times that we can learn a lot from animals and I agree. Take the example of pigeons and horses as pictured above. Everyday before the horse-drawn carriages (I disapprove of this business completely) in Central Park are loaded up with tourists, they are fed a bucket of oats. Within seconds of the bucket being placed in front of the horse, a flock of pigeons alight at the horse's feet. They know that in order for the horse to swallow it needs to lift its head after licking up its morning carbs. (The metal plate in the horses mouth doesn't make eating any easier.) Pigeons are extremely smart as well as friendly and trusting of horses and humans. When the horse lifts its head out of the bucket the pigeons jump onto and into the bucket pecking up the nutritious oats. When the horse has swallowed and leans in for another mouth full, the pigeons acquiesce. This sequence is repeated until the bucket is emptied. Both the horse and the pigeon get what they need. The horse could obviously take out a one-pound bird with a quick kick to the head but he doesn't. He's tolerant of the pigeons. Maybe, he even has a willingness to share?

Why are we humans so afraid to tolerate and or share? Why do we have such a need for greed? Why do we not look after and care for each other more? Why do we not learn from all our past mistakes? If we are so much smarter than pigeons and horses, why as a species do we kill each other at such an alarming rate? (In Iraq alone, an approximate 100,000 civilans have been killed since 2003.) And yet, we're considered the most intelligent and most highly developed species. How many horses were killed by other horses last year?

My philosophy is that you don't not need to like me. Nor do you even have to respect me but you can not touch or harm me. That's pretty basic. The respect would be nice but hell, I'm giving that one away as a freebie. Just don' hurt or kill me is all I'm asking. Think of the effect this credo would have on the Middle East situation. I'm not even suggesting that the Israelis and Palestinians
share the Strip and the 1950 Armistice Line blow away with a desert wind although, in my wildest dreams that's exactly what would happen. They too have pigeons and horses in Gaza. Don't they see how they get along?

Thousands of miles away from the fighting in Iraq, Israel and oops, I forgot, Darfur, is the place where you live and work. How much tolerance and sharing takes place there? Are you lifting your head up to see what the 'pigeons' need? Do you tolerate those that you may not understand or like? The Bucket is very large and there's enough inside for everyone. Go ahead, show the animal world that you really are the smartest species around and share.