Monday, October 27, 2014

A Heartfelt Thanks

I recently had the opportunity to serve as the Heart Walk Chair for two years, for the Northland Heart Walk in Duluth, Minnesota. It was truly an honor to serve with so many passionate and committed people. I'd like to give a heartfelt thanks to the many people that helped make the event a success, both years.

I'll start with the American Heart Association staff. They were always there to help with resources and to answer questions. Their guidance kept us on track, they answered many questions and helped to extinguish many last minute fires.

Next, I'd like to thanks those that served on the Executive Leadership Team (ELT). These professional business leaders brought there expertise and connections to the table and helped bring in those sponsors that are so important to the success of an event like this. Thanks so much for your time and talents.

We had so many people helping out during the event itself. Students and staff from the University of Minnesota, The ELT, The AHA staff, Radio and TV personalities, our sponsors, and past chairs and ELT members.

Finally, thanks to the team captains and walkers for organizing their walking teams and for fund raising. It was an incredible experience to watch all of you come together for these amazing events.

During one of the TV interviews, I was asked, "What do you enjoy most about the Heart Walk?" I replied, "My favorite part was the people. Watching so many passionate people come together for the cause of eradicating heart disease is inspiring." Your passion truly is inspiring. Thanks you for that gift.

Heart disease touches every one of us. Everyone knows someone with high blood pressure or high diabetes or someone that has had a heart attack or stroke. It's everywhere. It's in our homes, our families, in our churches and our schools. It's in our workplace. 

Thanks to the AHA for their mission to combat heart disease in all of it's forms and thanks to all of you that helped make my tenure as your chair fun, inspiring and successful. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Second Chance

I have been an amateur radio operator for a little over 13 years. it is a wonderful hobby and also affords the opportunity to provide community service in the area of emergency communications, and community events such as marathons. I am also fortunate to have received VE (Volunteer Examiner) credentials that allow me to help administer the amateur radio tests for people to receive their amateur radio licenses.

Recently, at one of our testing sessions, a father and his young daughter came in to take the exam. The daughter was around 8 or 9 years old. The father finished taking his test in about 20 minutes and passed. He decided to take the next level test while his daughter finished. It took her roughly 45 minutes to complete the test; she handed in her test and headed to the rest room. When we graded the test, she missed passing by one question. 

As we were discussing who would deliver the news when she returned, her father said, "I'm not telling her." When she came back into the room, we informed her that she did not pass. I was impressed with her reaction. She smiled, and said, "okay, what do I do now?" We offered her the opportunity to let her take the test again. She got a big smile, and asked her dad, "can I?" He said, "absolutely." I didn't think it was possible, but her smile got even bigger. 

We gave her another version of the test, and as she sat down to take it, her dad suddenly looked at his watch and informed her that they had to leave in 15 minutes. She finished the test in about 18 minutes and this time she passed.

Needless to say, I was impressed with this young lady. I should mention that this test is not too easy. There are many study aids, but the test includes questions on FCC regulations, frequencies, electronics, antenna design and includes mathematical formulas.

Too many times, I had seen people not pass the test and get upset and storm out of the room. They never even got their second chance. On other occasions, I've seen people get upset and then try to take the test again. This is not a good combination, and the negative emotions usually keep them from passing the second time as well.

We learn a great lesson from this resourceful young lady. Her initial response was to smile. By choosing a positive response, she gave herself the best possible chance for her second attempt. Her question, "what do I do now?" was an exceptional response to this. How many times do we ask this question when things don't go our way. We usually ask, "now, what do I do?" and ask with negative emotions. Her question was worded differently and with positive expectations. This is so powerful. We can all learn from this. 

Kudos to her and to her parents and mentors for teaching her how to be so resourceful.  When things don't go our way, first, we can choose positive attitudes that will open opportunities to us. Next, we can ask better questions in the right way, to get better results. Don't miss your second chances.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Recharge Your Batteries

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to two career classes at Central High School in Duluth.  I enjoyed talking with these young people as they prepare for graduation and embark on an unknown future.  Their excitement and passion for the future was truly inspiring and contagious.  I came away with my batteries recharged.

Sometimes it’s difficult to have excitement and passion in the workplace. We get in the so called rut of showing up, doing our time, and leaving at the end of the day.  I’m sure that all of us have had days like this on the job.

Is being excited and having passion on the job important? For me it is!

Here are some ideas for building passion in the workplace.

First, understand that what you do is important. If you don’t think it is, then take a few moments to write down why you are doing this job or this task.  If you can generate enough whys, you will generate the passion that you seek.  This will also make your job more compelling. This is one task that can generate huge benefits for you and your teammates.

Perhaps there are activities that you can do away from the job. For me, working with the youth, going fly fishing, or giving presentations to audiences really gives me energy and passion. I can then bring that energy to work. I’m sure that you have other activities that recharge your batteries. Whatever they are, make sure that you give yourself enough time to do these activities. You can then carry that energy back to the work that you do.

Finally, choosing a more uplifting and empowering attitude will allow us to find excitement and passion in any task. Sometimes we do get assigned to tasks that have no excitement inherent within them. If we start with the right attitude, and understand that the task is important, we can make the task more fun and exciting.

All of us want a workplace filled with energy and passion.  Did any of you say to yourself on the way in this morning, “I sure hope everyone is in a bad mood and that I have a lousy day?” Of course not!

I challenge all of us to learn from the young people out there that are so energetic, passionate and ready for the future.  Let us look for ways to keep our batteries charged. We too, with some effort, can have passion on the job.  Remember, what we do matters! How we do it, matters even more!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Marathon Goals

Last June, I had a new experience. I attended my first Marathon in person. Nancy and I were asked to help provide security for the 37th Annual Grandma's Marathon here in Duluth. This race included two half marathons, the National Championship Half Marathon for women vying for the Olympics, a wheelchair marathon and the full marathon.  Our primary responsibility was to watch for suspicious activity and watch for runners in trouble. I spent just over 8 hours standing in the middle of the road watching as over 14,000 runners and wheelchair racers passed by. I was roughly a little over a mile from the finish line. The home stretch for these racers. 17,000 racers started the races.

The weather was low fifties for the entire race, with a cold east wind coming in off of Lake Superior. The last half of the race also brought rain showers. 

I was impressed with the leaders of each race as they came through. As I looked at their faces, you could see focus. They were focused on the outcome, the goal, the win, the record, and seemed to be barely bothered by the weather and other things going on around them. I was very impressed with their determination. Watching them was inspiring. I could not believe the pace they were running near the end of the race. 

Later, most of the runners came through walking. They would run a few steps and then walk some more. Some were texting or talking on the phone. It was as if their goal had become to just finish the race. Maybe that was their goal from the start. While there didn't seem to be much passion, they were still in the race. About 3000 dropped out completely.  There are many reasons to drop out of a race: not being prepared; the weather; injuries; and hypothermia was a big key that day. I don't believe a single person wanted to drop out, but circumstances that they had no control over prevented them from finishing. 

The previous year, an older gentleman collapsed on the course from a heart attack. He did not have a heart beat and was not breathing when rescuers got to him. He came back in this race and finished the full marathon. 

As you think about your goals, remember, there may be some factors that you have absolutely no control over. Don't focus on them. Focus on the things that you can control. Regardless, you have the option to determine how you will finish. Will you be a runner, a walker, or drop out completely? 

"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that."     -- Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

Finish Strong! You are AWESOME!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Happy 2014

Happy New Year! 

Are you starting out the new year with new goals? Excellent! How are they going? Are you still committed? Here's a tip to help you keep focused and be successful.

Keep it simple. If you have numerous goals that you are trying to accomplish, it is very easy to get overwhelmed. Instead choose two or three goals that you can focus on. Or, break a big goal into smaller steps. Ask this question... which one of these goals would dramatically change my life if I were to accomplish it? Here is where you need to focus. 

Take this goal that you are passionate about, own it, and do simple, small steps, every day, until you accomplish it. Then move on to your next goal. 

If you have a goal to lose 20 pounds by May 1st, break it down into smaller steps. Perhaps to lose 5 pounds by February 15th.  By doing this, the goal will not feel overwhelming and you can easily find simple things to do to reach the smaller goal. 

Exercise integrity in the moment. Ask empowering questions. Do I need that extra soda? Do I really need those fries? Can I exercise 10 more minutes right now? Make better decisions.

If you blow it for one meal, so what? Instead of saying, "I'll start again next week," decide to be better at the next meal. 

Successful goal setters do certain things and keeping things simple is one of them. If you don't seem to be going in the right direction, make small changes and continue to ask, what's the most important thing I need to do right now to accomplish my goal, right now. Do this consistently, and you will soon be celebrating your successes, moving on to new goals, and taking your life in a new direction. I wish you much success.