“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Comments : 4 Comments »
Tags: defeat, Teddy Roosevelt, the man in the arena, victory
Categories : Creativity, Leadership, Political, Self-Development
The term alpha male is a recent innovation but the idea is well-known. Like Justice Potter Stewart’s answer when asked to describe obscenity, he answered, “I can’t tell you what obscenity is but I know it when I see it.” You know an alpha male when you see him.
Popular culture has given us an idea of the alpha male. Steve McQueen. John Wayne. Frank Sinatra. Clint Eastwood. More recently, Liam Neeson and Russell Crowe (pictured above).
When I asked Kath what defines an alpha male more than anything, she answered, “Confidence. He’s comfortable with himself and owns his space.”
She really got my attention. My game is going to another level.
An alpha male:
- Is confident in his own abilities. One proof is he doesn’t need to announce it. He knows what he can and cannot do.
- Is decisive. He makes a decision, usually with dispatch, and then sticks with it.
- Has stones and plenty of testosterone.
- Doesn’t run home to mother when the going gets tough.
- Is not given to self-pity, especially displays of it. Corollary to that is he doesn’t shift blame and takes a beating if he’s earned it.
- Can defend himself intellectually or physically. This makes women feel very safe and is quite a turn-on. Gals may pity wimps but they don’t respect them.
- Will mask his fears even when afraid. It’s Leadership 101. Combat veterans understand this well.
- Is not a poser. Nor arrogant (an advertisement saying “I’m insecure”).
- Walks into a room and leads. He’s not looking for a leader. He is one. Frank Sinatra was king here. It’s no wonder one of his nicknames was “Chairman of the Board.”
- Aren’t desperately seeking people’s approval or permission to live life and forge ahead.
- Is not metrosexual, though he dresses well and smells nice. The idea of effeminacy makes him recoil.
- Knows exactly what he wants and goes after it, come hell or high water.
Alright lads, let’s take it to another level. The world is waiting.
And so is your woman.
Comments : 4 Comments »
Tags: alpha male, Clint Eastwood, confidence, defend, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, leader, Liam Neeson, Russell Crowe, sexy, Steve McQueen, turn-on
Categories : Fitness, Leadership, Mentoring, Psychology, Self-Development
Lee Iacocca. Father of the Ford Mustang. Brought Chrysler out of bankruptcy in the late 1970’s. Helped bring the quality of US car making to another level entirely.
His grandmother gave this bit of sound advice [above quote] about leadership and initiative. One really can’t improve on it.
Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. If you’re going to make a difference in your career, your social circles and organizations, you’ve got to have initiative. Be a self-starter. Remake yourself into an individual who doesn’t require external motivation and motivators—read bosses—to get into gear. Take the ball and run with it. Don’t wait for permission. People will be amazed.
“Get All The Education You Can”
I’m at the mid-point of my life journey. To get ahead to places I want to be and to do the things I want to do require me to learn more. Go back to school. Lots of people are going back to college or getting specialty training in all sorts of fields: IT, medicine, law, banking, social sciences. College is not just for the young and you’ll be surprised how many older people are returning there, refusing to rust away. My mom earned her Ph.D in her sixties. You can do it and so can I. Check out the possibilities.
Simple physics tells us that a body at rest tends to stay at rest, unless acted on by an external force and a body in motion tends to stay in motion the same way. The law of inertia. Get busy, get schooled and get going. Activity and effort bring a return. Do this and enjoy the rewards of your labor.
Comments : 4 Comments »
Tags: back to school, Chrysler, college, Ford Mustang, inertia, initiative, leadership, Lee Iacocca, self-starter, training
Categories : Education, Fitness, Leadership, Psychology, Self-Development, Time Management
I love languages. I’ve spent most of my life learning different languages. Some—French, for example—involved years of school. Others I learned enough either to transact business or read text with the aid of dictionaries and grammars. Spanish. Greek. Italian. Hebrew. Latin.
Nearly 22 years ago, our family took in a family of Ukrainian immigrants. Six people in all and none of them spoke a word of English. Settling into an entirely new country and culture must have been frightening for our Ukrainian friends.
While we knew a few people within 50 miles who spoke Russian or Ukrainian, the task of helping this family settle into American life fell largely to our family. And because I have a love for foreign languages, I took it upon myself to learn to speak basic Russian in order to do day-to-day business.
At the time, I was managing a full-line bakery and had a very full schedule. But I bought a Russian grammar and dictionary and dove in. When working, I propped the grammar on my baker’s bench and taught myself to read Cyrillic script and learn Russian words and phrases while making trays full of cinnamon buns and Italian bread. It was a great learning experience.
The Russians have a maxim that became famous during the 1987 INF Treaty signing between General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan. Doveryai no proveryai.
“Trust, but verify.”
In the case of the INF Treaty, it meant that the United States and the then Soviet Union would give one another the benefit of the doubt, within reason, that they were abiding by the terms of the treaty, which was designed to throttle back the nuclear arms race between the superpowers by eliminating Intermediate and Shorter-Range missiles. The treaty included the allowance of inspectors within the Soviet Union and the United States to validate that both countries were abiding by their agreement.
The operative phrase here is within reason.
It is good to be able to give the leading voices in our world—political, economic, media and religion—the benefit of the doubt when they declaim on this or that matter of importance. But such benefit has limits.
Trust, but verify. This means, among other things, getting second opinions. Hearing the other side of any given story. Checking out references and sources. Authenticating claims. Challenging generalizations with penetrating questions, even if it makes the one questioned squirm.
Nobody—and I mean nobody—gets a free pass in this life. Do your homework. Check information out. If you’re a Democrat, read what a Republican says, not what MSNBC says a Republican stands for. If you’re a Republican and want to know what a Democrat stands for, go to the horse’s mouth—not Fox News. The best sources are original sources. I’d rather watch the movie myself than read the critics. I bet you do too.
The same holds true in religious matters, economic forecasts and medical diagnoses. You are not helpless and at the mercy of experts. Check things out for yourself. Trust…but verify.
You’ll be glad you did.
Comments : 2 Comments »
Tags: Dostoevsky, doveryai no proveryai, INF Treaty, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, Russian, second opinion, Solzhenitsyn, Tolstoy, trust but verify
Categories : History, Mentoring, Political, Psychology, Self-Development, United States
Jim Rohn is one of my favorite self-development teachers. I’ve been mentored by him over the past year through his writings and recorded seminars. I have never met him. He died in 2009 after a full life.
Today, I heard him dispense this nugget, worthy of wrapping one’s head around:
“Make rest a necessity, not an objective.”
Now that’s a new and powerful way of highlighting the importance of working hard.
Rest is something we earn. This sounds foreign to American ears. We are used to the “standard” of a 40 hour work week. But the 40 hour work week is distinctly Western and of recent vintage.
I’ve heard it said that if you’re only working 40 hours a week, it’s not likely you’re going to get ahead. Certainly not as far ahead as your dreams, goals and ambitions.
Even God worked 6 days out of 7 when He created the cosmos. He wasn’t done on Friday afternoon at 5:00.
I have family members who are doctors, attorneys, investment bankers, hedge fund managers, Federal officials and much more. They’ve all gotten where they’re at the old-fashioned way: They worked their tails off. Nobody handed any of them anything.
Here are just a few benefits that will return to you with greater effort and longer hours, as you create a life:
- You will certainly grow in your chosen fields of vocation and avocation.
- Your sense of accomplishment will increase as you tackle and master more skills and meet goals.
- You will run far ahead of the pack simply because many, if not most, are content to put their expected time in, satisfied with “working their 40 hours.”
- Your earning potential will undoubtedly increase, especially if the extra effort is focused and you strive for greater levels of excellence at all to which you put your hands to.
This isn’t a paean of praise to workaholism. Far from it. But in a culture that lives for the weekend, for partying, for good times and leisure, one tends to get an unrealistic picture of what it takes to win at life and rise to the top of your potential. It’s simply a matter of adjusting your perspective to accord with reality.
So my advice is this: See work and labor not as a curse, but as a blessing. Look for lots of increases in many different ways as you work harder toward fulfilling your destiny.
And, when you have striven and exerted and are tired, then rest.
You’ve earned it.
Comments : 6 Comments »
Tags: 40 hour work week, ambition, Jim Rohn, labor, leisure, rest, work
Categories : Appreciation, Mentoring, Psychology, Self-Development, Time Management
I snagged this quote this morning as I visited one of my favorite blogs. It sums up an awful lot. And, as someone remarked quoting it, the Coach is not saying, “Ah, suck it up. Don’t be a wuss.” He’s pointing the way to excellence. He’s won a couple of Super Bowl rings. Obviously he has gotten results from such a perspective. You will too.
“Blame No One”
Take responsibility—all of it—for your life. Don’t buy into the lie that you can’t do something meaningful and profitable because…your family was a mess…the economy is bad…you’re too old…you’re too young…someone beat you to it. Our choices have brought us to where we are at present. Our choices will earn us a Hall-of-Fame life. But it is our choice. Take charge of your life and don’t wait around for someone to give you permission to do so. The fact you are breathing is permission enough.
Don’t let entitlement thinking cloud your judgment and stick to you like snowflakes. I’m sure Parcells did not mean by this, “Don’t get your hopes up.” It’s wrong to expect others and God to do for you that which you are able to do for yourself.
Take action. This is a call for initiative. For forward momentum. Make a decision and see it through. If it doesn’t turn out quite right, make the mid-course correction but by all means don’t stop. God and the universe reward effort. If you exert, you will see a return on investment!
Comments : 2 Comments »
Tags: Bill Parcells, entitlement, initiative, responsibility, Super Bowl
Categories : Appreciation, Leadership, Psychology, Self-Development
“A man’s spirit is free, but his pride binds him with chains of suffocation in a prison of his own insecurities” (Jeremy Aldana)
Comments : 4 Comments »
Tags: freedom, insecurities, Jeremy Aldana, pride
Categories : Psychology, Self-Development
A few years back, I sat in a church service and heard the speaker say, “If you were born here in America, you won the lottery.” The speaker, a friend of mine, is a representative for a ministry that reaches out to the persecuted Church in nations hostile to Christianity.
It’s easy to develop a kind of myopia when living here in the United States is all you’ve known. I know I tend to take for granted the blessings that come from living here. As if the rest of the world lives like us.
But they don’t.
It’s been estimated that living in the US puts us within the top 7% of the wealthiest people on earth. For most on our planet, every day is a struggle to keep warm, find food, stay alive and find meaning in it all. 9 out of 10 people in our world don’t live like us. We are so graced.
So today, I am thankful to be an American citizen. It’s given me far more opportunities than most will ever have. My house is warm, I have food, I have a job that pays well. And I can make the most of my life as I choose to exert effort.
Remember this when you have a bad day, when the country is in a downturn, when things are tight and there’s not discretionary income for fun things. We live in a land of opportunity and it’s still the best there is!
Comments : 4 Comments »
Tags: America, gratitude, lottery, opportunity, thankfulness, United States, wealth
Categories : Appreciation, Psychology, Religion, Self-Development, United States
“…jazz is real play.” (Leonard Bernstein)
Jazz is arguably one of the few forms of music that had its birth in the United States. New Orleans is the matrix out of which this fun and playful musical expression emerged. Its penchant for variety and heartfelt expression and improvisation is why so many of us enjoy it so much.
I’ve been enriched by many different things as I’ve journeyed through life with my family. Every member has brought joy to my life as they’ve shared their passions and interests.
My stepfather, Dr. Paul Gorelick, has shared his love of many forms of music with me for 35 years now. Jazz is a favorite of Paul’s, especially traditional and Dixieland. So I was delighted to digitize a couple of rare jazz treasures for him as we’ve welcomed a new year.
The Epsilon Jass Band was a collection of fine jazz musicians who played in and around the Traverse City, MI, area. In the ‘70’s, my stepdad would fly his Piper Cherokee up to this region from Michigan’s thumb area to rest and repose from his very busy medical practice in Lapeer, MI.
Their album, Volume Two, has a variety of favorites—in different forms. Traditional jazz, rags, blues, swing, etc. The swinging “Hard Hearted Hanna” has a distinct blues feel, earthy vocals courtesy of Jeannie Harrison. Gig Stewart’s vocals on the well-known standard, “Mack the Knife” sounds reminiscent of Louie Armstrong. Satchmo and Bobby Darin would be proud.
There are a host of other pieces as well—“Sugar,” “Tin Roof Blues,” “’Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do” just to name a few. Front and center with this recording is the outstanding horn work. As well, banjo is central to Dixieland jazz—an instrument special to Paul, as he played banjo for many years. There’s nice banjo work on “Tin Roof Blues.” There is variety on this album, now out of print—slow tempos and sprightly, at times in-your-face meters. The dynamics on this record are outstanding.
Papa French and his New Orleans Jazz Band (formerly the Papa Celestin Band) made their home and mark in New Orleans. Headed by frontman Albert “Papa” French on banjo, this is Dixieland jazz at its best.
A Night At Dixieland Hall Vol. 1 opens with the very full, brassy reading of “Rampart Street Parade.” Joseph “Cornbread” Thomas handles the vocals with heart and guts on cuts like “Marie Laveau,” “Shine,” and the iconic “Mack the Knife.” Classical guitarist Andrés Segovia has said, “When the music is loved, it lives.” Playing music well, especially jazz, means it must come from the inside, the heart. There can be no compromise and this music demands your attention because of its passion.
Jazz, to be effective, has to have a strong rhythm section. As someone has said regarding their own ensemble, “This only proves that when your rhythm section is very good (as this band is) you don’t even know they are there. You just float on the cushion of a solid beat with the right chords. So it is easy to see how you could forget Scott, a fine player, always in the pocket.” These records embody Gershwin’s phrase “I got rhythm.”
These two albums have special value to my stepdad because they were all signed by the musicians who made them. You can see this in the picture at the head of this post.
Jazz is play and fun. Paul has other favorites—among them Dave Wierbach and Pete Fountain. But the larger point in this post is this: Share what you love with those you love. I’ve been privileged to share my stepfather’s love of music and have grown as a musician and a person as well.
You should do the same.
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: albums, Andres Segovia, Dr. Paul Gorelick, Epsilon Jass Band, family, Leonard Bernstein, love of music, Papa French and His New Orleans Jazz Band, vinyl
Categories : Appreciation, Creativity, Family, Music, Technology
“Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard. But mostly what I need from you….” (Billy Joel)
Life thrives on health. And healthy relationships thrive on honesty, on commitment to truth, whatever pains may ensue. This is the same for all human interactions—with spouse, children, parents, colleagues, friends–even with God. But most of all, with oneself.
I’m learning that in order to be honest with others, God included, I must first be honest with myself. I have to summon the moral courage to take a good look at where I’m at, what I like and dislike, where I’m going and with whom I’m going.
My wife has been the truest friend I’ve ever had largely because she sees me and tells me the truth, rarely with anything other than love. She has helped me be courageous in asking myself tough questions about life and answering with the antidote of truth, even though it hurts. One of my goals this year is the practice of radical honesty, primarily with myself. This will help me be more authentic with others because I’m a unity, rather than a potpourri of different selves adapting to the moment.
Go get alone, maybe with a journal and a cup of coffee or glass of wine, whatever, and ask yourself these tough questions and answer honestly:
- Am I being true to my professed values, both in the public eye as well as out of line of sight? There is inherent tension that visits us when we profess one thing and live another.
- In my life of faith, do I really believe what I mouth as creed or simply parrot something I’ve been taught? Be ruthless on this one. Nobody gets a free pass. Someday, you will stand and account for your time here. It will not be good enough to say “I did this because [insert name] told me this was the right thing to do.”
- Have I come to terms with the fact that I drove my own car to the place I’m at and to go further in my journey, I’ll have to drive there? Devil didn’t make you do it, the economy either, nor your parents. Did they influence? Of course. But we either acted or chose not to act. A tough sell but own this.
- If money were no option, what would I do for a career? See yesterday’s post. You have a sacred obligation to provide for your own, even if digging ditches. But don’t stop there. Work towards your dream occupation. President Kennedy was fond of quoting the Greek maxim: “Happiness consists in the full use of one’s faculties along lines of excellence.”
- Am I continuing to nurture relationships that are hurting me? A mantra on this blog but you have to choose your circle of peeps carefully. Do they spur you on or deflate you? And can you goad them in the direction of their best selves?
Honesty is therapy. You will ultimately be a much happier person as you really start to tell yourself the way it is this year. There may be pain at the outset but that will be replaced with more peace, if only because you’re finally authentic.
“To thine own self be true.”
Comments : 2 Comments »
Tags: Billy Joel, honesty, moral therapeutic, radical honesty, truth
Categories : Appreciation, Family, Friendship, Leadership, Psychology, Self-Development