Category Archives: Perspective

Imagine That

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.
– Albert Einstein

Imagine that! High school seniors have graduated and summer is finally here. As working adults we hope that business will continue to pick up and we know that the long, hot days of the summer months lay ahead. They will be over before we know it. But remember for a moment the days of summer back when we were kids. The days were still long and hot, especially if they were spent anywhere in Texas or the surrounding states.

As we reflect on the childhood joys of the summer months we have fond memories of friends, trips, adventures, months out of school, and good times. We remember lemonade, watermelon, snow cones, ice cream, swimming holes, and fishing holes, too. We recall family reunions, time spent on vacation, and time with grandparents. For some the summers of childhood were long ago, but never forgotten. For others they are a fresh memory formed just a year or so ago.

For those who can remember way back when, I wanted to take a few moments at the start of summer and take a look at some of the things we may not know about these youngsters that have just graduated high school. What are their cultural references in comparison to ours?

Seniors who are graduating this year were born when Bill Clinton was President but George W. Bush is the first President they remember. The Hubble Telescope has always been in orbit along with Global Positioning Satellites, the internet has always been available, new cars have always had air bags, and DNA fingerprinting has always been a tool used by crime fighters. They have never been without 911 emergency telephone services.

Today’s graduates do not remember Ruby Ridge, Waco, Rodney King, the LA Riots, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the USSR, the KGB, East Germany, the Cold War, Tiananmen Square, or the Oklahoma City Bombing. They were born after Gulf War I (Desert Storm) and have always had Word, Excel, and PowerPoint available on their computers.

These young men and women, our future, have never known another host for the Tonight Show other than Jay Leno, except for the few months that Conan hosted. They have never been without Comedy Central, the Discovery Channel, or the Sci/Fi Channel. The Simpsons have always been on the air.

When they were born, the Dow Jones had just broken 4000. The average cost of a new house was $110,000. The average annual income was $34,000. The average rent was $495 a month. And gas averaged $1.05 a gallon.

Things are different and yet somehow they are always the same. Today we are still working for peace in the Middle East. Terrorists are still holding hostages. We are still fighting in Iraq. Washington is corrupt. Taxes are high. And Elvis is still rumored to have died.

But let’s not forget that we are talking about the fond memories of summer. Those memories are fond because of our perspective when we were kids. We were not concerned with the political issues of the day or of the negative reports in the press about the impending doom and soon coming end of the world by some catastrophe or new disease. We wanted to play with our friends, eat good food (especially if it wasn’t good for us), and enjoy life! What happened?

Some would say we grew up. But face it; there is still that child in all of us, that child that remembers the fun of summer. And in case we have forgotten – look at our kids, or our friend’s kids, or our younger siblings. Where does the fun come from?

It is all about imagination. And even grown ups can imagine. So let’s put our imagination to use. It may be a little rusty. To warm it up, think about the times, the things, the places, and the people that made summer special when we were kids. Once our imagination is cranking, imagine what it would be like to enjoy life like that without all the stress (and responsibility).

Now imagine what fun we can have with our family, with our kids, and with our friends in these summer months. We don’t need lots of money, we just need our imagination. Let’s retrace the steps of our childhood and find joy in the simple things, the things that bring a smile to the faces of those around us. Imagine a world without all the stress. What would that feel like? Stress is usually a reaction to circumstances that we cannot control. If we cannot control it, why waste time worrying about it? If we want to waste emotional energy, let’s wear ourselves out enjoying the summer like we did back in the day, when we were kids.

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Do You Get It?

It is more blessed to give than to receive. – Jesus of Nazareth

The holidays are here and it seems that we could not truly enjoy the celebrations, parties, and events of the season without the use of lists. For Thanksgiving we have a list for groceries, a list for the football schedule on television, a list of relatives to call, and a list of things to buy at the Black Friday sales early the next morning. For Christmas we have lists of gifts to give and to get, a list of people to send cards, a list of parades, events, parties, and get-togethers. We may even have lists of things to do before the end of the year and we will start the New Year with a list of resolutions.

All of these lists serve to keep us organized in an otherwise over-busy time of year. We wait all year for the holidays and before we know it they have come and gone again. We save, plan, budget, plot, scheme, and think about how to get the best gifts at the best prices for those we love, those we like, and those we are obligated to give gifts to because it is after all “the Season of Giving.”

We also hope and hint so that others might get us the gifts we most want. Being grown up makes it a little more difficult than when we were kids. Everyone asks kids what they want for Christmas. But as adults there are times we know what we want, know what it costs, and so we don’t put that on a list anyone will read. Maybe if we get enough gift cards we can get what we really want!

At this time of year it seems there are always complaints about consumerism and greed. Everyone is upset, at least for a few minutes, that the holidays have become so commercial. But then, once the line at the checkout starts to move again, we forget how irritated we were. The problem with commercialism and consumerism has to do with the motives and actions of other people, not with our own desire to make this the best Christmas ever, right?

The people who pepper spray other shoppers in order to get the flat screen TV for themselves, who stomp and trample others even as they are dying on the floor of heart attacks and strokes, those who scratch and claw to get in line, stay in line, and get the best deal – these are the people who reveal the dark underside of holiday shopping. However, how are we any different if we approach the holidays with an eye toward what we can get instead of what we can give?

Thanksgiving and Christmas are after all about giving God thanks for His bountiful provisions and about rejoicing in the promise of salvation declared by angels on high as God gave the best gift ever, sending His Son to be one of us, to live among us, to die for us, and to show us the way to new, everlasting life. The true focus of these special days is placed firmly on giving, not getting. Giving thanks. Giving gifts in order to imitate God as He has given us so much. And yet, we so often slip into selfishness and get carried away, if only for a minute, in the notion that it is better to get than to give.

The moral of the story is this – it is always better to give than receive. This is true not because there is anything inherently wrong with receiving gifts, but it is true because of the focus and attention of the giver. We give gifts, we give joy, we give happiness, we give people the chance to see how much we care about them and love them. We give of ourselves to express our love for others. We see then that the giver and the getter are both blessed when gifts are given. In taking the opportunity to give we find the greatest blessing.

Hopefully we took the time last month to truly give thanks for the people who matter to us. Now this month, let us look to these holy days as an opportunity to give with no thought of getting. Let us be selfless, not selfish. Let us be disappointed not by the gifts we wanted but did not receive, but let us be disappointed that we were not able to spend time with all of those who we love and who love us.

If we are obsessed with getting it becomes about the stuff, not the people. Giving gifts is not about the stuff. It is about the relationships we have. And there we find the true blessing of the holidays – the people we love. For each person in our life this year, let us seek what the angels promised on that first Christmas night so long ago, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).

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Old Dogs – New Tricks

“Example isn’t another way to teach, it is the only way to teach.” – Chares Dickinson

It’s September already. Fall is on the way. Here in Texas high temps have fallen into the mid 90s! Football season has started, and school is back in session. Fall is a season of distinct sounds, or a lack thereof. Quiet in the neighborhood where kids had been playing all summer, gunshots from hunters in the distance, high school football teams and bands practicing.

The end of summer and the beginning of a new school year brings with it a flood of memories and emotions. At times we long for simpler days and wish we were young and back in school. Some of us are old and have gone back to school! What we have learned in the world of the workplace is that whether or not school is in session we are always learning.

With school starting it is hard to miss the fact that technology is evolving. The tools that kids need for school these days are substantially different that the Number 2 pencils and Big Chief Pads we started with (or the chisels and stone tablets for some among us). Today we have phones that have more computing power than was in the Lunar Module. Computers come in all shapes and sizes. And where we passed notes, now kids send text messages in a language most adults cannot comprehend.

Technology in the workplace changes even more rapidly it seems, with new gadgets, programs, and upgrades every week. So not only are we always learning about the business, our products, and our customers. We are also learning to adapt and use new technology to do our jobs.

When it comes to learning we all know the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Those of us who have worked for any length of time in the real world know that this statement is false. It may take a little more time and effort, but old dogs can indeed be taught new tricks. Just think about the way business was done when we started in our job and look at how things have changed. Most of us manage to at least keep up.

Along with technology we see the job markets, economy, and even our customer base changing. How do we learn to adapt in changing times? How do we learn new tricks amidst difficulty and stress? To teach old dogs new tricks we have to use the right TOOLS. What are these TOOLS?

T stands for Tone – whether teaching or being taught it is important to have a positive tone. This really is a key to learning because we know that effective communication is more than saying the right words in the right order. Tone of voice indicates attitude and emotion, and a positive outlook goes a long way to helping people hear what we are saying.

OO stands for Over and Over – a positive outlook is followed closely in importance by repetition. In order to catch on quickly and learn new things we need to do it over and over. Notice, it is important not just to hear what to do, but to actually do it. Doing something is the fastest way to learn. Hands-on experience has been proven to re-wire how our brain works when it comes to learning new tasks. Old dogs tend to shy away from new tricks, or assign them to younger pups. Instead we need to take on new tasks with enthusiasm.

L stands for Listen – often it is difficult for older dogs to listen to those who are younger. At times this is based on a lack of respect. It may also be the difference in experience. While experience does help us in our outlook and expectations, we need to give those younger than us an opportunity to teach us what they know. Face it, they have grown up on new technology. We may have finally figured out how to set the clock on the VCR, but that is just to make it stop blinking, we have not used it since we started using DVDs. Kids entering the workforce today are several generations ahead technologically. They do lack experience, and wisdom, but that gives us an opportunity to teach each other.

S stands for Success – we need to celebrate success, no matter how small! As we set a positive tone in the workplace, do things over and over for consistency, listen and learn from others, we also need to take note of our successes. Even when it is a small achievement, it is still an achievement. Often times we put such an emphasis on getting it right and learning new things quickly that we disregard the small victories and are not satisfied until we have a major breakthrough. We need to remember that a large breakthrough is nothing more than a series of small successes added together.

With the right tools, proper motivation, positive reinforcement, on the job experience, and respect for others, we as old dogs can be taught many amazing new tricks of the trade. In fact, if we don’t we will not find success. Success in business requires the ability to learn. To learn is to grow. We need to be growing, or getting out of the way.

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Dealing with Mr. Know It All

People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do. – Isaac Asimov

Do you live or work with someone who knows it all? If you do, you know that they know it all because they tell you every chance they get. They are the most well informed idiots on the planet. The truth is that they do know a lot. But they usually know a little bit about a lot of stuff. So while they have a vast field of available information to drone on about the depth of what they actually know is really very shallow.

The difficulty in dealing with a know-it-all is that no matter what you are discussing they believe with all their heart that they know more than you do. Contradicting them leaves them no choice but to correct you, and then to educate you by telling you more than you ever wanted to know about the topic under discussion.

The real problem is that with all the information we have available to us today with the internet, several hundred thousand channels of hi-def television, digital recording devices, and smart phones anyone can become an instant expert on any subject. But we have been deceived. We believe that to know something is the same thing as understanding it. We think because we have collected a set of facts in our head and can regurgitate those facts to others that this means we know what we are talking about. We have forgotten that knowledge by itself is actually not good for very much at all other than to puff our heads up.

There is an old proverb that tells us that “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.” Knowledge, on its own, is just information. A machine can be programmed to find and relay information. But when we take knowledge and add it to wisdom and understanding, then we really will know what we are talking about. This is not simply because the facts line up and are true, but because wisdom and understanding give us the experience to say what matters, when it matters.

The word wisdom refers to our perspective. To be wise is to see things the right way. To have the advantage of time, age, experience, and even failure to draw from as we look at a situation or circumstance. Age is no guarantee of wisdom though. There are plenty of old fools out there (no names please) and also quite a few young people who are “wise beyond their years.”

The word understanding refers to discernment. To understand something is to comprehend it. Face it, just because we know something does not mean we comprehend it. Comprehension involves critical thinking skills, and the only thing Mr. Know-it-All thinks critically about are those whom he condescendingly looks down upon as being intellectually inferior to himself.

Another proverb exclaims to us, “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” So how do we get wisdom and understanding? Ask questions. To gain a proper perspective we need to question our present perspective. To gain understanding we need to work hard at comprehending. And frankly we need to learn to keep our mouth shut until we have a right perspective and comprehend the topic at hand, except to ask questions of the wise and understanding who are around us.

We need to use people as a resource instead of a sounding board. Too often we would rather tell someone all that we know than to listen and learn from them what we need to know. And lest we be deceived, we are not fooling anyone. When we spill our guts with pride and fail to listen we usually have taken the roll of Mr. Know-it-All and owned it.

We need to listen more than speak (you know what they say about why God gave us two ears and one mouth). And we need to ask lots of questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question, although plenty of stupid people ask questions! But in asking we should be seeking to know the truth, to learn, to comprehend, to gain a better perspective.

So how do we deal with Mr. Know-it-All? We must grin and bear it. We have to put up with him because he is there every day. We all know his face and the sound of his voice. When you started reading this article you were immediately able to call a face to mind, the face of your Mr. Know-it-All. So why must we grin and bear it?

Grin because deep inside we can actually laugh at the person who proves their ignorance by saying so much. And bear it, because as soon as we try to correct them we will open a flood gate and will likely have a difficult time escaping the deluge that threatens our own sanity.

Next time you run into Mr. Know-it-All, stop and remember that the only difference between you and him is wisdom and understanding. And a wise and understanding person knows that you do not have to tell someone everything you know all the time!

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Remember the Alamo!

Texas is the finest portion of the globe that has blessed my vision. – Sam Houston

Beginning at the Battle of Gonzales in October 1835 and ending swiftly in the 18 minute Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, the Texas Revolution birthed a new nation and saw one-third of the land mass of America change ownership. In between these two engagements we learn from history about the Battle of Coleto Creek, the massacre at Goliad, and the thirteen days of glory (Feb 23-Mar 6, 1836) wherein the defenders of the Alamo in San Antonio de Bexar bought time for General Sam Houston and his army to escape to the east during the Runaway Scrape.

All in all, Texian and Tejano forces were defeated, massacred, and chased from one end of the state to the other. But in the end, one of the swiftest and most decisive battles in history proved the resolve of the men who proclaimed as they charged the field, “Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo!”

What drove these men in the fight? What motivated those who knew that in battle they would most surely die? When the odds were so stacked against them, what kept them going?

The political climate in Mexico was one of upheaval. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had helped overthrow the sitting government and had in time been declared the sole ruler, a military dictator. The 1824 Constitution of Mexico which had guaranteed freedoms and rights to the citizens of Mexico and the settlers in Texas was rescinded and the army was used to force subjects into submission to the new government.

With their loss of rights, land, and privileges, the settlers appealed for a return to freedom and lost. They took up arms to defend themselves and win their freedom. The flag that flew over the Alamo was a Mexican flag with the year 1824 written in the middle, signifying defiance for the current regime and a desire to return to the rule of law under the previous Constitution.

As Col. Travis and Col. Bowie led the forces at the Alamo, joined by volunteers from Tennessee commanded by former Congressman David Crockett, this band of 180 or so men were determined to hold the fort and delay the advancing Mexican army. Travis appealed to the newly formed government of Texas asking for reinforcements but none ever came.

As Travis fought off a much larger force for 13 days the Constitutional Congress of the Republic of Texas met at Washington-on-the-Brazos and drafted the Texas Declaration of Independence. Signed on March 2, 1836 (Texas Independence Day), this document saw the birth of a new nation.

The battle at San Antonio ended on the morning of March 6 when Santa Anna’s troops finally breached the walls and put every remaining Alamo defender to the sword. No prisoners were taken. Women, children, and a few slaves were allowed to leave. Otherwise there were no survivors.

Later that month, Col. Fannin’s troops were overwhelmed and surrendered. On Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, some 350 Texian prisoners were ordered to march to a new location. While on the road, marching single file, they were executed in Goliad.

The remaining Texian and Tejano forces were not demoralized, but instead were motivated by these atrocities. It steeled their courage and drove them to success at the final battle of the revolution. There was not only a desire for liberty and freedom – there was also a desire to ensure that these men at the Alamo and Goliad had not died in vain.

The Texians lost right up until the end. Houston’s strategy to hold out, to deliberately pick the field of battle for the final engagement, and to lead the Mexican army further and further away from its supply lines meant that in that final battle only 9 out of 900 Texian soldiers were killed while over 600 Mexican troops were killed and another 700, including Gen. Santa Anna, were captured.

The Republic of Texas existed as a sovereign nation from March 2, 1836 until its annexation as the 28th state by the United States on December 29, 1845. In order to pay off debt from the war Texas ceded to the United States land that stretches from Oklahoma and New Mexico, up through Kansas and Colorado into Wyoming.

From this brief history review we can learn valuable lessons for today. A small group of people committed to a task can overcome overwhelming odds and succeed in meeting their goals. This determination must be joined with endurance. To achieve our goals at work or at home we must be willing to work through the hardships that will arise, keeping in mind where we want to be, not where we are at the moment. We must learn to be diligent and deliberate in our actions, planning for success, and working with ambition and adaptability to stay the course.

The lessons of war teach us that in life we need to know the difference between strategy and tactics. Strategy refers to the overall goal, the big picture, the end game. Tactics are the means to implement the strategy, to make it happen one step at a time. That is why losing one or two battles does not settle the outcome of a war. Likewise, failure should only drive us to try again, to never give up, to press on, and to keep in mind the overall goals we have set. As we remember the Alamo this month, remember that out of defeat can come the motivation for history making victory.

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Ground Hog Day – Again

The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine. – Mike Murdock

Today is February 2, 2011. It’s Ground Hog Day. According to superstition and tradition if a large rodent climbs out of his den and sees his shadow he will be frightened and run back into the den to hide – then we have six more weeks of winter. However, “Puxatony Phil”, one of the more famous official weather predicting ground hogs, did not see his shadow today. So spring is right around the corner. We can only hope!

Today is the coldest day on record in decades. And it will be colder tomorrow. The State of Texas is experiencing rolling blackouts. The power grid cannot keep up with demand for keeping things warm. Temperatures are in the teens and the wind chill is at or below zero.

Since it is Ground Hog Day we must mention the famous (or infamous) movie starring Bill Murray in which he gets caught in a time loop and lives Ground Hog Day over and over and over. Some people love the movie and watch it every year, others can’t stand it, and some have never even seen it! I’ll spare you quotes from the movie, but there are some lessons to be learned from the sci-fi concept of living the same day over and over.

Many of us do just that, only the date on the calendar does change. Our lives seem to fall into a routine. Day in and day out people get asked, “How are you?”, and they reply, “Same stuff, different day.” At times the days of the week blur together. At other times the time seems to drag.

It is always better to be busy; at least then the time seems to pass more quickly than if we have nothing to do. Then again, boredom is usually just a lack of creativity, motivation, or incentive. But whether times are busy or slow, and whether we will readily admit it or not, we tend to seek out routine. Routines are easy. Change is difficult, requires thought and deliberation, and means that we have to step out of our comfort zone.

The truth is that routines are not bad in and of themselves. When we face daily routines we have an opportunity to make sure that we are being as efficient and effective as possible. What we forget sometimes is that just because something is routine doesn’t mean that we cannot explore the possibilities of change, or improvement. We should always be looking for ways to do things better. That means we should never allow the current “policy” to work as a barrier to progress.

Policies form a valuable framework when built on past experience, but to see policy as a road block that prevents exploration, experimentation, and expansion misses the whole point behind a policy! Policies police the way we do things to ensure efficiency – at least they should anyway. And policy makers should always be ready to change as new and better ideas are shared from those who know the routines best.

The real danger to watch out for with routines though is that we tend to allow our routine to devolve into a rut. What’s the difference between a routine and a rut? A rut has been described as a grave with the ends kicked out. A rut goes nowhere. To be stuck in a rut means that there is no progress, no hope, no improvement, just resignation, surrender, and then despair.

How we deal with routine says a lot about our character. Pushing on, striving to improve, to do better, to become more efficient – this kind of response means that while we know that our days may be routine our outlook isn’t.

If we find ourselves getting bored we may need to vary things a bit. The first thing we need to change though is our attitude. If we see routine as a negative then we will miss the lessons we need to learn and the hidden challenges that remain below the surface, indiscernible to the uninterested.

A day to day routine should mean that we meet each day as a challenge. It is an opportunity to think about why we do what we do and to ask questions about how we can do it better. Workers need to feel free to think through the policies we rely on and offer suggestions for improvements. And management needs to be open to those suggestions, understanding that those workers who are on the frontlines facing these routines on a daily basis are our best resource for making improvements, increasing productivity, and expanding business.

So, while it is Ground Hog Day, again, let’s not dread daily routine. Instead, let’s decide to learn from the past, look to the future, and leave the possibilities open for change. Then, shadow or not, winter or spring, hot or cold, each day is a new opportunity with the potential to be better than the day before.

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Good Riddance or Goodbye?

Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed. – Cavett Robert

Twenty Ten is now history. It is the past, a memory, gone. Sha-na-na-na, hey hey hey, goodbye! And some would say that is a good thing. It seems we have a habit of only remembering the hard times, the bad things, the difficulties and trials when it comes to ringing in a New Year. The new will be better, we hope. It is, after all, new, and hopefully improved.

We are all usually optimists when it comes to the New Year, though some will read this and think to themselves, “Not as long as _________!” Fill in the blank. We all have our fears, doubts, worries, and concerns. Especially in difficult times, we wonder if we will be able to pull out of the slump, recover from the recession, and see real improvements in the next twelve months.

There are a few lessons to be learned as we transition into this first year of a new decade. The first is that we do need to stop and think about the good things that happened over the last twelve months. Instead of highlighting the bad and the negative, let us call to mind the good memories of notable events in our lives, including friends and family. Milestones, goals, achievements, accomplishments, and commendations should come to mind more quickly than the negative that we so often allow to punctuate our memories.

Secondly, let us admit that we grow more in difficult times than in good times! As hard as that may be to admit, the truth is that in the good times we tend to get lazy. When times are good and the living is easy we don’t like to be uncomfortable or stretched. But when times get bad we tend to look for ways to innovate. We want to stretch because reaching new limits may mean more productivity, increased creativity, and the motivation to jump out of our comfort zone.

Some refer to the good times as living on a mountain top. It is an emotional or spiritual high. We feel like we are on top of the world. And in that moment we are passionate about everything. We make resolutions, promises, and set goals because we believe we are invincible and that our goals are easily achievable. After the pep rally we are pumped up and ready to go win the big game.

But when reality sets in, and our opponent is giving us a run for our money, and we get stressed, tired, distracted by the every day, then we find resolutions a drag. What were we thinking? Well, in the heat of the moment, on the mountain top, we were thinking it would be easy because we were emotionally stirred up and quite frankly, irrational.

We forget that there is no growth on the mountain top. Think about it. Look at a high mountain. What is on the top? Nothing; it is barren, covered with snow and ice. There is even an area called the tree line above which nothing significant grows. Where do we find the dense growth, the vegetation, and most of the wildlife? Down in the valley.

The valley often represents our daily life. We think of it as the daily drudgery. Our routine has become routine, and so in the excitement of the moment, at New Years, we make resolution to change things for the better, to accomplish more, to make a difference. In the energy of the moment on the mountain top we set ourselves up to fail! No one after all is ever really expected to keep those resolutions, right? Some only last until we pass a donut shop. Others wear thin after we get tired of fighting against the flow of our daily life.

That is because we keep looking at the mountain top as if it is the place to be. In actuality, it is down in the valley where we find nourishment and opportunities to grow. Maybe we need to resolve to take our eyes off of the unattainable goals set on the mountain top and instead determine to succeed at the every day.

We will spend a lot of time and energy in this New Year trying to avoid the mistakes of the past. That is a good thing. But we will also spend time trying to avoid difficulty. That in reality is not so good. Difficulties and trials help produce in us patience, give us a reason to hope, and motivate us to seek help from others.

The world does not need many more super stars or celebrities. It needs men and women committed to doing their best to make the best of whatever this New Year brings. True heroes are everyday people that accomplish extraordinary things in the midst of ordinary circumstances. They find ways to overcome limited resources, daunting deadlines, and remind us that in order to truly succeed, we must master the mundane.

This New Year, don’t say “Good Riddance” to 2010. Say “Goodbye” as you would to a friend leaving on a trip to a far off place. The truth is that as we think about the good times, those memories will tend to fade further and further into the background of our lives as we move forward. It was a good year. And this New Year just might be even better. All the hype and hysteria aside, let’s get on with our daily lives and strive to be and do our best, just because we can. Then when we look back on 2011 in twelve months, we may be surprised at the growth we see deep in the valleys of our everyday lives.

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