Take a Minute – You Might be Surprised Who Can Teach You a Lesson

Every Friday that Mike’s family is in town (and not traveling to Auburn for a football game), we get together at a local Mexican restaurant for dinner. Sometimes there may be as many 16 people or more.They have been meeting like this on Friday nights for over 20 years. As you probably can guess, the number has grown over the years. The restaurant is always very gracious in making room for all of us, and I can’t think of a time where we’ve had to wait more than a few minutes. They also work hard to bring us our food very quickly.and take good care of us.

It’s always a good time, and the nachos are probably the best I’ve ever had. I find it a sweet time with family, visiting and catching up on our week. As a matter of fact, I find it a little disappointing when we aren’t getting together. The last two weeks, Mike’s great niece, a precious 6 year old, honored me when she arrived and asked to sit next to me. I’m sure it’s not because she wanted to visit with me, but because she wanted to play with my hair! Last week she told me just how she wanted me to wear my hair this past week. Of course I made sure I wore it just as she’d requested because I don’t want to miss an opportunity to ‘hang with her.’

All of the kids usually ask for someone’s smartphone and spend a lot of time playing games or watching videos while the adults do their thing…chatting and catching up with each other. This week she had someone’s phone and I found her watching videos. The first video I saw made me laugh. It was so funny – I said to Mike ‘these are videos of people with blindfolds, doing yoga. She was quick to let me know – but very sweetly – that I was wrong and she asked me to look a little closer. And she was right. It was a video of two blindfolded folks, and each of them had a fish tank in front of them. There were various things in the tanks – some of them floated and some of them were on the bottom. Each person was racing to be the first to identify all of the items. When I really looked carefully, it was even funnier than I originally thought it was. Because it was quite specialized, I wondered how she found that video. Before the video ended, our food arrived and she very carefully set the phone down to eat her dinner. I might add she has great table manners, especially for someone her age!

Once she finished dinner, she picked up the phone to start watching new videos. She later let me know she was waiting for me to finish my dinner so she could play with my hair. She watched a few, and once I finished my dinner I leaned over to see what see was watching. She was trying to find one at that moment, and I watched to see what she was going to watch and how she would find it. I was ready for her to ask me to help her search Google to find what she was looking for – but as it turns out, she didn’t need my help at all. She pressed the home button on the phone and she said – and I repeat – exactly this: ‘Siri show me videos of puppies,’ and within just seconds there were more videos than I could count. She carefully chose one (of course I leaned in to see if the video was actually going to be one of puppies!) Just as she’d asked, the first video was a short video of puppies playing. And the next one was a video of puppies as well. Puppies

Here’s the thing – I’ve never been a big fan of Siri, and I’ve have asked for her assistance less than a handful of times. After my experience with this dear 6-year-old, I might need to use Google a little less. I was impressed that it only pulled up exactly what she asked, with no sorting needed.

So all weekend, I found myself fighting the urge to ask Siri to find videos of puppies for me…was there something I’d missed in what she said? Finally at breakfast this Monday morning, I couldn’t hold out any longer. I pressed the home button on my phone and asked Siri to show me videos of puppies and just as she’d asked, there were those puppies for me, and the first one was the one she’d watched. How ‘bout that? Of course I had to try it with another request – I asked for videos of Giraffes, and within seconds there were videos of Giraffes! You might have noticed I really like them! Yes, I think I might be asking for Siri’s help a little more.

Remember when it was the adults who were teaching the kids? We were even the ones who would pull up the videos for them. On this night, it was that sweet girl who pulled up the videos for me. The takeaway for me? We can learn something at anytime from anyone. Thank heavens I was open and ready to help her, however she helped me and I learned something that night. So in closing, why don’t you give it a try? ‘Siri show me videos of puppies (or anything that interests you fill in the blank).’ And when those videos come up, remember – this all started with a sweet 6 year old.

Passing along a kind word – or just passing?

A couple of weeks ago, we ran into Publix early in the morning for just a few things. We had a great parking spot right up front and center. As luck would have it, our battery refused to start when we came out. I know, I know – our battery didn’t really care how many things we were there to get, but on quick trips or stops, it just doesn’t seem right for our cars to give us a little trouble.

Anyway…we immediately reached out to roadside assistance, and they were wonderful. And then the wait began. While we waited, the spot in front of us opened up, so we decided to lift the hood of the car. We hoped that if anyone wanted to pull in, they would see we were waiting for assistance and leave that spot open for the help that was coming. It was really early, and we were not keeping folks from the only prime spot. (At that hour, there were lots of spots!)

After a few minutes, a guy pulled into the spot right next to us and without hesitation came right over. In the kindest and most sincere way, he asked if there was anything he could do to help us out. We let him know that help was on the way. When he came out after his short trip in, he asked again. Shortly after that, a woman pulled up with some little girls. When she got out of her car, she made the joke that ‘this was not a good way to start the day.’ She was very sweet and so were her little girls – they made sure to say hi to us, too.

We sat there for just under an hour. Quite a few folks spotted us, but walked right by – oddly, three of them were actually Publix employees and they never even acknowledged us! (How is it that none of the Publix employees that were walking by didn’t at least ask if we had help on the way?) However, four sweet shoppers went out of their way see if they could help us out. Those are the folks I remember very clearly. (If I had to, I bet I could even remember what they were wearing.) They stopped to take that minute from their busy schedules and check in with us as they saw our trouble. In my mind, their kindness still sticks with me…even today.

When we seize the moment to offer a kind word, or even make a funny remark, others appreciate it and it stays with them. Sometimes, we don’t have to chase down an opportunity to shine a little goodness on someone – the opportunity just presents itself.

I think it’s important to remember that, in a tough moment for someone else – whether we know them or not – an offer to help out or even a kind word might stay with them, and you might not even realize it, but the goodness resonates.

How ‘bout today we keep our eyes open? If an opportunity crosses our path, let’s not let it pass. It could seem like nothing to you, but it could be a moment that sticks with those you come across for a while, or even makes their day.

How about instead of passing on an opportunity, we pass a kind word or just a smile? Let’s keep the goodness flowing!

There’s No Expiration Date on Goodness

So I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus for a variety reasons. Stay tuned and I’ll share with you some of what’s been going on. But that’s for later. While I’ve been carefully plotting and planning my return, I had an experience earlier this week that really blessed me! I’ve decided to make it my first official post as I end my hiatus.

Without further ado…

Earlier this week, I attended a dinner with the Señor who was our Spanish teacher in high school. While I never took Spanish, I knew him because our high school was fairly small; I had classes in the rooms next to his. But I had lots of friends who took Spanish. (I took Latin and French)

This all came about because one of our friends from school posted on Facebook that she was coordinating a dinner. She asked us to RSVP. As soon as we saw the post, the two of us in my house said without hesitation to count us in! It was a few weeks away, but it seemed like forever. As each week passed, I became increasingly more excited!

Of course, we were the first ones there (we are always early). We initially ran into one of the guys in the parking lot he was early for this reunion as well. Now keep in mind Señor hasn’t seen us in a very long time. He came right over before we could get to him, arms wide open for each of us individually. He was quick to say he recognized Miguel, as that’s how he’d always referred to Mike. Of course he did – Mike looks much the same as he did back then, and pretty good, I might add.

Since we were the first ones to arrive, we had him all to ourselves, and the conversation began! There was no uncomfortable silence or standing around, not knowing what to say or do. We all knew how to lean in to each other and just started sharing as the years melted away.

It was only a matter of minutes before all of the other folks arrived, and we all had to give each other a hug. Just a simple hello wasn’t enough. Even though we all graduated in different years we lived in the same area. Many of us have known each other for a very long time. (Our high school was 8th-12th grades). We still have a tie that binds us in community.

Even though the dinner was in his honor, our Señor showed up with a gift for each of us. (I have a hard time calling him our teacher because he was and is so much more than that). Candidly, I felt bad that I hadn’t brought anything for him because I had thought about it. He pulled out an envelope with a picture of a map on one side with pictures on the other side. He had one for every one of us – not just a few. The map had signatures of all of our high school teachers, one they’d given him when he received his citizenship many years ago, and on the flip side were a couple of pics of him. I liked that he’d put his name over one of his photos. But of course we recognized him, as he’s made an indelible mark on our lives!

Somehow, with no planning of my own, I got the best seat in the house between Señor and Mike. Across from me sat a fella that I have known since kindergarten. And thanks to Facebook, reunions and most importantly, Words with Friends, we are still in touch today. I really enjoyed that the evening was a real group event. We had a big table and spent the evening in conversation and just basking in the goodness of each other and being together. I’ll spare ya all the details, but I could go on and on…and have, with some folks.

Before I knew it, the evening was coming to an end. When I looked at my watch, I was shocked at how much time we’d spent together because it felt like just a few minutes. We all agreed we’d do this again very soon – and I am confident we will!

I was so excited about the evening that I believe I talked Mike’s ear off on the ride home. I then had to call my dad and tell him about the get together. Before we hung up, I also had to say thank you. I had to thank him for where he and mom chose to raise my sister, brother and me.

I woke up this morning still basking in the goodness and feeling so grateful and blessed for such a sweet evening, and the community that is such a blessing to me.

As I wrap things up today I want to remind you that there’s no expiration on memories, good times and plain goodness! So take a minute to think about a friend, family member, or group of friends and just lean in, whether it’s with a call, a note, a text or whatever works for you. You never know what’s in store when you do. I’ll bet there’s goodness just around your bend – will you lean in, or miss out?

Circle of Life

I have struggled a little bit with where to begin in sharing my journey through D23, but I’ve landed on the first presentation I attended: the Disney Legends presentation. As I mentioned previously, it is the place where Disney chooses to honor those folks who have made significant contributions to the The Walt Disney Company.

This year Disney chose to honor: Carrie Fisher, Clyde Geronimi, Whoopi Goldberg, Manuel Gonzales, Mark Hamill, Wayne Jackson, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Garry Marshall, Julie Taymor and Oprah Winfrey. While I was prepared to be moved (and I was – I even brought Kleenex with me), I was most touched by the speech from someone I’d never even heard of – Julie Taymor.

Julie’s contributions are primarily for adapting The Lion King for Broadway. Here’s a link to her acceptance speech (https://youtu.be/Tt7vQLX_lj4). It’s only a little over seven minutes long, so you might enjoy hearing it yourself. Not only had I not heard of Julie but I must stop and confess right here – I’ve never even seen The Lion King. As I started to write this, I went back and listened to her speech again and found myself in tears again. She shares a story in her speech that, even after I knew how it’s going to end, I found myself trying to keep from sobbing.

As many of you know, this has been a tough year for me – from losing Rainier, to some of the struggles with my health, and other losses. Julie’s story was a gentle reminder to me that, in spite of all of my challenges and loss, I have an amazing circle in my life. I have friends, family and even Rainier (still with me!) who love and support me, and I celebrate with those loved ones all of the goodness I get to enjoy today.

I encourage you to take a moment and celebrate your circle on this day. It takes a tribe to make us complete, so take a moment to stop and be grateful for yours.

I know it might seem cheesy but I thought it might be fun to share with you the closing performance of the Legends presentation. (because we have to close with a song) And in case you’re wondering, I will see The Lion King before this week closes. And who knows maybe even the Broadway version before the year ends.

One dream can change the world…

Here we are, a little over ½ way into this month. Are you going to join us in this experiment to choose one word as your New Year’s resolution? Have you chosen your word yet?

As you know I have chosen inspire as my word. Over the last 2 weeks, there have been quite a few folks who have and are inspiring me, and I will be sharing them with you in the coming weeks.

But today, I think might it be nice to stop and recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. He is someone who was very much inspired and was not afraid to stay the course, regardless of the consequences. One of his most famous quotes started with “I have a dream.”

His dream was his driving force – it changed the world, and continues to inspire, encourage and plant seeds of change today.

Have you chosen your one word? Who knows what it might bring about for you and maybe even outside your circle of family and friends?

The inspiration, passion and courage of Martin Luther King, Jr., continue to inspire and encourage people today. And while I’m sure he didn’t choose just one word, it all started somewhere for him. So why not start by joining in our experiment. You never know – one word could be the beginning of something that might inspire and encourage people for many years to come.

 

Still looking for a resolution for 2015? Think about this

And so a new year begins 

Often it can stir up questions for us:

  • What does the year have in store for me? The people I love?
  • What is it that you’re truly seeking?
  • Am I going to make any resolutions? If yes, then what are they?

And this list can go on for many folks

Well, I’d like to suggest a new type of resolution for you to consider. This kind of resolution you are certain to meet. The degree to which you meet it will be entirely up to you. It’s something that if you ‘drop off’ or forget, you can pick it back up with ease anytime during the year.

What am I talking about?

Recently someone mentioned to me that at the beginning of 2014 he had been challenged, instead of making a list of resolutions, to simply choose one word. Yep, that’s right – one word and only one word. So after careful consideration, decided to take the challenge. And the one word he chose was ‘buildup’. Without going into details, he found this experiment surprisingly successful. Not only was there ‘buildup’ in many areas of his life that he’d sought and wanted for some time, but he also discovered that there were a few things he needed to, or should, eliminate from his life and he achieved that as well. And finally, he also found positive buildup in areas he’d never even thought about.

So, how about this? Why don’t we take this challenge? Let’s take a little time to think about it and then choose that one word that would be just right for you – just one word. What word you choose is entirely up to you. You may or may not want to share your word with anyone – and that’s fine. And you may or may not want to jot down a starting place. Some might want to keep a journal (or not), while some of you might want to just wait until the end of the year to review your progress {last phrase is just a suggestion}.

I’ve decided I’m going to choose one word and take on this challenge and see what shakes out for me. I’m going to take the next day or so to settle on the word that I think is just right for me. And then, I’m going to go for it

It only takes one

What is this all about? What do you mean by chasing goodness?

Good questions. I’m using the phrase chasing goodness because I truly believe there is some kind of goodness in every day. Even on my toughest of days, I’ve been able to find a tiny ray of goodness. The goodness I’ve found on those days hasn’t always been from a friend or family member – sometimes from a stranger, and sometimes it’s a combination of goodness from many. On some of my toughest days, a kind word, a little humor, holding a door, a simple thank you, even someone letting me letting into the traffic flow can be something so appreciated for a variety of reasons.

 

One tiny act afforded to me one day I still remember. A friend of mine and I were racing to get one of my dogs to the vet. I came up to a spot where it seemed like it was impossible to get into the traffic flow, and candidly, time was of the essence. One kind fella stopped and waved me into the flow. We were so thankful. I turned and gave him the thank you wave and instead of a kind wave back he gave us a thumbs up. Both of us remember that, even to this day. And his simple act of letting us into traffic was extremely helpful – more so than he could have guessed at that time.

My point is that we don’t always know how the simplest act might be just the thing someone needs. So my question: what if we begin to build a community of people who are chasing opportunities to share or bring just a tiny bit of goodness? Can you imagine the impact that could have in our communities and even beyond?

So join me! Check in once a week or maybe even more. I will share some suggestions for opportunities to chase, and some of my experiences. And I would love to hear from you about your experiences and any opportunities you might suggest.

“Look for a way to lift someone up. If that’s all you do, it’s enough.”
— Elizabeth Lesser
So, are you in? Will you join us?
So let’s start this slow and easy, how about this week we look for an opportunity to share one kind word with someone we don’t really know?
There are lots of people we come across during our week where it would be easy to offer up just one kind word.  Sometimes we see them often during the course of our week and others we might never see again.
My challenge to you as we kick this off…is to seek out at least one person that is out of your comfort zone and share just one kind word with them.

So, are you in? Will you join us?

How Do You Say Goodbye to a Legend?

That is the question Dr. Shirley Raines, President of the University of Memphis, asked as she opened her tribute to my great aunt, Elma Neal Roane, on Friday September 23, at her memorial service. It was a hard question, and candidly, up until the last few days I was unsure of how to answer it.

I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on all of the wonderful stories that people have shared, and continue to share, with me and my family over the last couple of weeks. Every story was personal and a blessing. There’s no doubt that my aunt, Elmo, as she has been known for the majority of her life was quite a woman. She accomplished so much but I think what I admired most about her was her vision, and determination to stay the course on that vision, regardless of the obstacles, or naysayers that crossed her path. I’m not sure she ever saw an obstacle – just opportunity. The road less traveled beckoned her and she forged a trail for all of us. She knew her calling and she embraced it with boundless energy and enthusiasm. I wrote about her last year as all of her papers and artifacts were donated to the U of M.

So how do you say goodbye to a legend….more importantly to my great aunt Elmo? I am not sure it is possible.  But here is what I do know. Knowing Elmo was an incredible privilege and blessing – but it came with a calling. She expected, and well lets tell like it is, she demanded, all of us to just do and be our best. I believe the answer to the question comes in a simple sentence, I must have heard her say it a million times during my life. A phrase that many may find cliché or trite – however to her it became her mantra. We all need to “keep on keepin on!” The very best way for us to honor Elmo in my opinion is for us to keep on giving the best of ourselves to our family, our friends, our work. To strive to leave people and things better off for knowing us. The best way to honor Elmo is to be good to each other, to encourage each other and to pour out ourselves into each other.

A few years ago at the Social Media Business Forum, I had the privilege of meeting Geno Church and he challenged the audience to: “Be famous for the people who love you, for the way you love them.” When he said that I immediately thought of my aunt and today those words mean so much more as Elmo was famous because of how she loved all of us – family, students, friends, and of course the University of Memphis!

I’m reminded of our last quiet moment together – we were at a tea honoring her accomplishments at the U of M. I said to her: “I’m in awe of all the goodness you have created how did you do it?”  She responded: “Everything I did, I did because I had a passion for it, not just the education but the students as well. I’ve dedicated my life to promoting fellowship, honor and integrity, and we need more teachers who are pushing that as well. That’s my passion, keep on keeping on!”

So I challenge you today, if Elma touched you or your family in any way what will you do to pay it forward? How will we keep the trail she blazed going? I am not sure I know the answer today – but it’s heavy on my heart and I am working on it. How about you?

Are you smarter than a baboon?

At first glance Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya is a peaceful beautiful safari park. It’s best known for the thousands and sometimes millions of flamingos.  Recently the park was enlarged so it could provide sanctuary for more than 25 black rhinos. Overlooking Lake Nakuru is a picnic area called Baboon Cliff. Aptly named because of the troops of baboons that live here.

When I visited Lake Nakuru I had lunch at Baboon Cliff, prior to entering the picnic area my team was briefed to be “on guard” because the baboons were very bold here. However, there was no amount of briefing that could have prepared us for what was about to happen.  It had been quite a morning seeing rhinos, hippos, vultures, lots of zebras and even hyenas up close and sometimes personal for the very first time.  As we settled into the picnic area, within seconds, we were surrounded by about 25-30 baboons. Our guides had large sticks and were doing all they could to keep the baboons at bay. And that job quickly became increasingly more difficult.

Baboons are really crafty characters and worked together to distract us so the larger more aggressive ones could try to rob us of our food. They would come together almost like a football team in a huddle, make disturbing sounds as if they were formulating a plan. Then, one or two would come in close and do some kind of trick, or something entertaining while the aggressors would try to charge us. And it’s all fun and games, until you are face to face with one of these scary creatures.

Taking note of my anxiety, Mike, one of the men on our team, invited me to sit on a bench with him, promising to fend off any baboons that got close. So I acquiesced and agreed to sit with him, but against my better judgement. As we opened our box lunch and started to go through it, a huddle formed just about 25 yards away from us.  We had our eye on that huddle and then they dispersed. We all breathed a sigh of relief.  Then out of nowhere a baby baboon appeared before us doing tricks, making sounds and before we knew it all of us were paying close attention to the baby. When out of nowhere, the biggest baboon I’d ever seen was on top of Mike, wrestling him for his food and mine. In a matter of seconds, Mike was on his back, with the large creature on top of him. Everyone sprung into action, even the other baboons. Needless to say, the big baboon got away with Mike’s lunch and mine. And as quickly as he’d been able to spring into action, he was off and running with the bounty of his efforts. He proudly joined the huddle and shared the spoils with the rest of his troop…or should I say team?

So, what does this have to do with community and marketing? What’s the lesson here? It’s the power of collaboration and working together to accomplish a goal. It’s so amazing that the troop of baboons knew that unless they worked together, there was no way they would have been able to get a single morsel. It’s the same in our communities, organizations and even friends. As organizations find themselves running very lean, collaboration is critical to overcome the challenges of today’s competitive landscape. The social web has made it easier than ever to connect and collaborate to overcome any barriers that previously existed.

If a tribe of baboons can grasp the power of collaboration and working together to achieve a common goal. How is it we lose site of it?

I think Margaret Mead said it best and interestingly enough after her time in Africa. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”