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Words of Wisdom from a Popular Country Song

Recently, I was in San Diego at a conference and there was a video shown at one of our opening sessions. It was a music video by Tim McGraw called Humble and Kind.

It’s a very simple song that talks about being kind to people and being humble and grateful, not holding grudges or being bitter. But when his music is put with the cinematography in the video, it hits you hard, in the generations, the genders, the different cultures, the different stories that could be told in the faces that pop up on the screen. It’s an amazing video to watch.

You know, I always encourage people to be positive, to believe in themselves, and go after their goals, and believe they can be achieved. But as you’re achieving them, you need to stay humble. You need to be grateful, and remember who helped you get to where you’re going. Don’t forget those people that supported you when your days weren’t going well, those people that taught you great lessons, those that drove you to get to the next level.

And remember, as you achieve success, help others to achieve it as well. And always be humble and kind.

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My Favorite Band

 

I’ve been asked many times who is my favorite group. I’d have to say my favorite band is the Eagles. Their music, the hundreds of songs that they’ve written and performed, have stayed with me throughout my years. Some songs like “Take It Easy”  and “Desperado” and “Life In The Fast Lane” and “Take It To The Limit.” I’ve heard those songs hundreds of times, and “Hotel California” probably ten times that many.

Those songs resonate with me. They take me back to a certain time. There are many songs that when they come up on a classic radio station I can remember exactly where I was in my younger days or in my travels. I can remember being on the aircraft carrier serving in the military when certain songs from Chicago came out. I can remember songs when I was overseas, later on in my career that reminded me of being back home, and the mountains and the skies and the beaches that I missed.

There were songs that pumped me up and made me melancholy. That’s what songs can do for you. So whether you need a good song to exercise to or to motivate you to get that next piece of business or just to reminisce, identify what those songs are. Use them to take yourself to the next level.

If you have a song that you’d like to share with me, mention it in the comments section or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.

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The Value Of Being A Lifelong Learner

I love that song by Johnny Cash – I’ve Been Everywhere, because I have been. I have traveled all over the United States with one job and I’ve traveled all over the world with another. The topic today is lifelong learner.

When I took each of those jobs, I was very confident in myself. I thought I knew everything. I didn’t know anything.

When I started traveling around the world, I needed to learn different cultures. I needed to learn different ways of doing business, and how families interacted, and how education was achieved in those countries. I need to learn who their border disputes were with and their history, which was, in most cases, a much deeper and longer history than the United States of America where I was coming from.

When I traveled around the United States, I realized that people were different in many ways, but same in others. Learn to take advantage of those environmental situations that you’re in and just absorb as a sponge, everything you can about that culture and about that person, that religion, that leadership style.

It makes you a better person. You need to be a lifelong learner. I’ve learned an awful lot of lessons in my career. They weren’t always from good experiences. I’ve had bad bosses. I’ve been in bad jobs. I’ve been in difficult situations which I wished I could have avoided.

But you know what? I learned from every one of those cases. I had a boss that taught me bad time management. I became a better manager of time because of it.

Let me give you another example. When I was in my 30s, I became the president of the Los Angeles Zoo Association. I had been in fundraising. I had run membership organizations. I knew how to work with people, but I really didn’t know much about animals, or captive breeding programs, or the importance of wildlife preservation.

I learned that from day one at the zoo. I gathered around me the docents, the men and women that volunteer at the zoo, that could teach me the important principles I needed to know to be the leader of the Zoo Association, so I could raise the money and run the operation in a successful way. I read books as fast as I could to understand the issues that were facing us in the 1980s.

By the time I had been president of that organization for a couple of years, I felt like I had been doing it all my life. But that was only achieved because I saw the value of being a lifelong learner.

I could have sat back and just said, “I know how to raise money. I know how to run retail operations. I know how to talk with people.”  But, I really didn’t know the product. I didn’t know the services, and the mission of a zoo association, and a program that cared about saving the California Condor, the Arabian Oryx, and the Sumatran Rhino.

Once I understood the importance of those programs, I had the passion and the enthusiasm I needed for getting the mission accomplished.

The power of learning never ends. I’ve been on this earth a long time, and I’m still learning something new everyday, and you should too. I ask you to take away that commitment today to be a lifelong learner. Whether it’s by reading a book, or watching something on a video, or sitting down and having an espresso with somebody in a cafe someplace and finding out about their life and their culture.

Commit to do that each and every day. Find a new person, sit next to a stranger and get to know them. And when you have a bad boss, learn from him or her.

 

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Get Over It

Have you ever made a mistake? Of course you have. We’ve all made hundreds, even thousands of them.

What can we do with them? Well, we could let them dwell within us. We could let them make us grumpy, discouraged, disappointed, angry, and cause us to get off track and distracted from our goal or dealing with the project or the person that needs to be our total focus.

Or, we can learn from them and not make them again. We could reflect on how we could have done something better or said those words softer or been a more compassionate listener.

And finally, you can get over it. You can’t worry about the last game. All you can worry about is the game that’s coming up, that next step you’re going to take, that next game you’re going to play, that next sales call you’re going to have. So when you screw up, suck it up and get over it.

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Times Are Changing

 

If you’ve been listening to me since I started this Sounds of Change blog, you know I’m a classic rock guy – Beatles, The Eagles, Bob Seger, Springsteen. Some of you in your comments on my blog have said I need to get a little more up-to-date. I will work on that and will have some messages tied to some more current music in the weeks ahead.

Today, I’d like to tie in a couple of songs to what’s happening in the United States and in many parts of the world. It’s been a challenging time with some pretty traumatic raw news –  the #metoo movement, #timesup, #menext, #neveragain.  Young people are speaking up. Women are speaking up. And songs are resonating with the current change that’s going on in society for the good – songs like Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.” I think a powerful line is “Show me how big is your brave” or “Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out.” Katy Perry’s Roar-  Eye of the Tiger – it’s a powerful song to exercise to, dance to, and  right now. to listen to, as we go through changes in our society and our behavior. I encourage you to listen to these songs and hopefully they’ll resonate with you and help all of us be better people.

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Find Someone To Lean On

You just heard “Lean On Me” – a classic from many years ago. At the end of this message you’ll hear “Count On Me,” a more recent version with a similar message by Bruno Mars.

Whether you’re leaning or counting on somebody, we all need a coach. We all need that person who can give an unbiased opinion on how you’re coming across, at work, at home, or in the community.

How often have you been faced with an issue where you cannot easily come up with the answer by yourself? You’re afraid to ask your peers, or your subordinates, and sometimes even your family members. But you know you don’t know the answer.

Who is that person you can go to who can coach you through your decision-making process, or help you become self-aware of a strength or weakness that you need to overcome or build upon? I encourage everyone, regardless of their age or status or position at work, to have somebody who can give you a brutal, honest opinion on how you’re coming across, and how you can do better. That could be a coworker. It could be a third party who’s not related to your business or your community at all. You can learn it from books, but the most powerful way is to have someone who you can confidentially meet with whenever you need to, to wrestle through the issues you face.

Whether you call it a coach or a mentor or a counselor or a consultant, I encourage you to have that person in your life that you can count on. That you can lean on to make the decisions you face each and every day, at work, at home, and in your community. Take this out with a little Bruno Mars.

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Are You Really Listening?

You know that song by Simon and Garfunkel – Sounds of Silence is one of my favorite songs from the 60s. The message I want to share with you today is the power of listening.

How often do we have conversations with somebody and we’re not listening?

You might say, “Oh I always listen to people, and I’m a good listener, and I’m polite.”  But halfway through that conversation, do you start thinking about what you’re going to say in response to what they’ve just said? Are you trying to solve their problem as they’re telling you their problem? Are you trying to top their story when you should be just listening? You need to give 100 percent of your attention when somebody is talking.

The story about listening that I want to share with you is about Flight 1549. That’s the USAIR flight that Captain Sully flew into the Hudson River. It was about eight years ago. Captain Sully had just experienced total engine failure and he was speaking with the air traffic controllers and the different people that pilots have to speak to as they leave their airport and travel to their destination.

Listen to the transmission that day and you’ll discover the power of listening and maybe the power of not listening. Two examples – one, the pilot Captain Sully was talking to air traffic control and they were encouraging him to land in Teterboro Airport as he was announcing he was going into the Hudson. They weren’t listening. And then when Sully landed in the water or was about to land in the water, he heard his flight attendants saying “brace, brace for landing.” They were listening to the pilot’s directions and they were following the directions. Listening can be powerful in your personal life. It can be powerful in your corporate life too.

Here’s what I want you to do later today.  When somebody starts a conversation with you, discipline yourself to listen that entire conversation. Don’t look at your phone. Don’t look at your laptop. Don’t think about what you’re going to say. Don’t think about how this conversation is frivolous and not important to you. Just focus in on what that person is saying and care about what they’re saying. Give it all of your energy until that person is finished speaking and only then do you respond.

Try that today. You might find it’s hard but it’s important.

 

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Do Current Events And Political Discourse Worry You?

 

Some people are concerned about the crazy life we’re living right now especially in the United States.

Political discourse. Concerns about wars. The environment. A lot of anxiety.

But when I have conversations with people about the days we live in today, I think about the 60s – the 1860s and the 1960s. The 1860s in America, when our country was pulled apart into a civil war that took millions of lives. The 1960s, when we had the Vietnam War and the protests associated with it, the assassination of a president and a presidential candidate and of civil rights leaders, the race riots in city streets all across America, the Pentagon Papers, and into the next decade, Watergate. Those were rough times, but we got through them. We’ll get through these.

There was some amazing music written and performed in the 60s – Vietnam protest songs, civil rights songs. Those songs tell the story and helped many of us get through those days.

What are your songs today that help you get through the years that we’re living through now? What drives you to feel good, or to get angry and go do something about it?

What songs give you peace and serenity? Pick the songs that drive you to get through your adversities, and more importantly get you to do what needs to be done.

Send me a message with your favorite song that keeps you going during rough times, or motivates you to go out and accomplish something meaningful. Share that with me in an email or a message or in a comment here on my blog. I look forward to hearing your responses.

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Two of My Go-To Songs For Motivation

I’m not aware of another classic rock song that has a stronger opening than Neil Diamond’s “America.” First, the violins, and then the drum cadence getting louder and louder during the first 30 seconds of that song. It’s powerful, but so are those words.

“We’ve been traveling far.  Coming to America. Looking for freedom’s light burning warm. They’re coming to America.”

They’re looking for the freedoms and the benefits and the opportunities and the rights that this country affords its citizens.

It reflects the diversity of America through its immigration program from a hundred years ago, and its diversity today. It’s a powerful song.

It’s used at concerts, conferences and conventions, and significant events in America.

I used it when I spoke before 3000 high school students at a national conference at Indiana University in Bloomington. That music preceded my opening address, and you can imagine how it got the audience fired up prior to my message.

Songs can do that. They will motivate you to get yourself ready, to get yourself pumped up, to get yourself focused. Or they can bring a memory – reminding you of somebody you love.

Another Neil Diamond song I love is “Sweet Caroline.”

Because I’m a father to a baseball coach and a father-in-law to another one.  It’s played during the eighth inning at Fenway Park, at every baseball game. And now it’s played throughout America, at Little League games, high school games and college games.

And guess what my youngest granddaughter’s name is? You got it right. It’s sweet Caroline.

Use the power of music to get you to that next level, to get you focused, and to get you centered.

Tell me what your favorite song is in the comments below or send me a message. I’d love to hear from you. Let’s go out with a little bit of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” Neil Diamond recently announced his retirement due to health. We wish him the best.

God bless.

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Life Lessons From A Sea Turtle

 

Recently my wife and I returned from a trip to Hawaii. My story is about it being 5 o’clock – which means happy hour.

After my wife and I sat down and ordered our Mai Tais,  I turned around and saw a wooden sign that said Life Lessons From Sea Turtles.

Swim with the current. Be a good navigator. Stay calm under pressure. Be well traveled. Think long term. Age gracefully, and spend time at the beach.

Now all of these things the turtle does,  and I’d like to hope that I do most of these.

Swimming with the current is one that I probably struggle with. Sometimes you need to go upstream. Sometimes you need to fight the currents. Some of your best lessons are learned when there’s a powerful force up against you.

I hope I’m a good navigator. My wife and children would probably disagree, but here I’m referring to navigating and mentoring people in their careers. If you’ve been mentored, thank that person. If you don’t have a coach or mentor, go find one.

Stay calm under pressure. That’s a powerful message.

Be well traveled. If you haven’t traveled outside of the city or state that you live in, or if you’re from the United States and you haven’t been to other countries, you need to get up and get out and see the rest of the world. You will learn to appreciate people and cultures and governments and geography and topography like never before. And when you come home, you’ll appreciate the country you’ve left – the freedoms, the rights and the privileges that you have.

The next message is to think long term. What is that long term career goal that you have? What wishes and dreams do you have for your family, for your children and grandchildren?

Age gracefully.  I’m getting up there in age but I’m enjoying every year more than the previous one. As I have life experiences, I’ve come to appreciate the people I’ve met and the places I’ve been. I’ve learned to be much more grateful.

And finally, I love to spend time at the beach. I always have, from the time I was a teenager out in Southern California at Hermosa and Torrance and Redondo Beach. I thought I was one of the Beach Boys. So let’s take this message out with a little bit of surf and music, from the surfing band of the 60s.

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