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Archive for February, 2010

“You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Like most of you, I spent the week watching the Olympics. I love them. I love the passion, the commitment, the drive, the thrill of the chase, the close calls, the utter unabated joy that comes from winning a medal and the character that is exhibited by those who don’t.

As I listened to the various interviews after the events, I was struck by the common response shared by those who missed the annuls of Olympic history by a mere 100th of a second. When asked how they felt, most proudly, confidently and calmly said, “Of course I am a disappointed but I did the best I could. I gave it everything I had and those who won were simply faster or just that much better.”

What an incredible way to live life, to be able to accept the results whatever they are with no remorse, regret or self flagellation simply because you knew in your heart that you gave it all you had. There is no such thing as failure when you live this way. Yes, there may be lessons to learn, but given what each knew at the time, they were clear they had done the best they could.

We are often disheartened, discouraged and depressed when we are aware that we didn’t live up to our highest capability; when we know that we could have given, done or said more than we did. It is in this void where regret resides. This is the space that leaves us feeling empty. This is the vacuum in which troubled hearts and minds forfeit their accountability and become victims of the world around them.

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Give it all you’ve got, in whatever arena you are performing – with a new relationship, your job, the way you parent your children, starting a new business, building a house, being a good neighbor or friend. Some of these may turn out as you planned. Some may not, but whatever the result, even if you come up short by 100th of a second, you will know you gave it everything you had. You will know in your heart that you are a true winner.

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“Have you ever wondered which hurts the most: saying something and wishing you had not, or not saying something, and wishing you had?”

Author Unknown

Valentine’s Day has come and gone but I often wonder why we have to have a special day to say “I love you.” Why all the hype and build up (and let down, because after all, not everyone has a Valentine)? Why do we feel a need for a special day to express our warm words of affection? Why make it such a big deal? Of course, we all know that it’s a money marketing windfall for many industries, but I wonder if among the romance, flowers and sweets there isn’t an underlying message that tells us to wait for “just the right moment” or that influences us to hold back sharing our caring until we are given “permission.” What does it say about us as a nation, that we need a special day set aside to remind us, (or allow us) to say we love another?

10th grade
“As I sat there in English class, I stared at the girl next to me. She was my so called “best friend”. I stared at her long, silky hair, and wished she was mine. But she didn’t notice me like that, and I knew it. After class, she walked up to me and asked me for the notes she had missed the day before and I handed them to her. She said “thanks” and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I wanted to tell her, I want her to know that I don’t want to be just friends, I love her but I’m just too shy, and I don’t know why.

11th grade
The phone rang. On the other end, it was her. She was in tears, mumbling on and on about how her love had broke her heart. She asked me to come over because she didn’t want to be alone, so I did. As I sat next to her on the sofa, I stared at her soft eyes, wishing she was mine. After two hours, one Drew Barrymore movie, and three bags of chips, she decided to go to sleep. She looked at me, said “thanks” and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I want to tell her, I want her to know that I don’t want to be just friends, I love her but I’m just too shy, and I don’t know why.

Senior Year
The day before prom she walked to my locker. My date is sick” she said; he’s not going to go well, I didn’t have a date, and in 7th grade, we made a promise that if neither of us had dates, we would go together just as “best friends”. So we did. Prom night, after everything was over, I was standing at her front door step. I stared at her as she smiled at me and stared at me with her crystal eyes. I want her to be mine, but she doesn’t think of me like that, and I know it. Then she said “I had the best time. Thanks!” and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I want to tell her, I want her to know that I don’t want to be just friends, I love her but I’m just too shy, and I don’t know why.

Graduation Day
A day passed, then a week, then a month. Before I could blink, it was graduation day. I watched as her perfect body floated like an angel up on stage to get her diploma. I wanted her to be mine, but she didn’t notice me like that, and I knew it. Before everyone went home, she came to me in her smock and hat, and cried as I hugged her. Then she lifted her head from my shoulder and said, “You’re my best friend, thanks” and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I want to tell her, I want her to know that I don’t want to be just friends, I love her but I’m just too shy, and I don’t know why.

A Few Years Later
Now I sit in the pews of the church. That girl is getting married now. I watched her say “I do” and drive off to her new life, married to another man. I wanted her to be mine, but she didn’t see me like that, and I knew it. But before she drove away, she came to me and said “You came!” She said, “thanks” and kissed me on the cheek. I want to tell her, I want her to know that I don’t want to be just friends, I love her but I’m just too shy, and I don’t know why.

Funeral
Many, many years passed, I looked down at the coffin of a girl who used to be my “best friend”. At the service, they read a diary entry she had written in her high school years. This is what it said: I stare at him wishing he was mine, but he doesn’t notice me like that, and I know it. I want to tell him, I want him to know that I don’t want to be just friends, I love him but I’m just too shy, and I don’t know why. I wish he would tell me he loved me!

`I wish I did too…’ I thought to myself, and I cried.”

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(The answer to last week’s WOW!)
We left off with Lancelot pondering the predicament of: “During the day, did he want a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch? Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous intimate moments.

What would YOU do?”

Noble Lancelot said that he would allow HER to make the choice herself. Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.

Now of course the joke ending is:
“If you don’t let a woman have her own way, things will get ugly!”

But a more enlightened quote might be . . .

“Only those who respect the personality of others can be of real use to them”
-Albert Schweitzer

There is a lot of wisdom in Lancelot’s decision. When we try to manipulate or control others, overtly or covertly, women or men; thinking that we know what is best for them better than they do, inevitably things will backfire. No one likes to be “told” what to do. No wants to work for or live with someone who doesn’t respect their right and ability to make good decisions. This is most especially true for children. How do they learn if others make decisions for them?

Perhaps a more effective approach with children would be to help them sort out the choices in front of them. Discuss the pros and cons of each decision and then allow them to make their own choices. They will either reap the rewards or pay the consequences. If they fail, acknowledge them for being willing to take a step and simply ask them what they learned.

With a spouse or a friend, perhaps what is more empowering than our judgments and criticisms or our attempts to persuade them in a direction we think they should take, would be to help them sort through their options (if they are willing to do so), and tell them you trust they will make the right choice for them. Don’t offer unwanted advice or tell them what they should do. After all, it is their life, not yours. If they fail, then stand beside them and let them know you believe in them. Tell them “It’ll be better next time.” Simply give them your support and never say, “I told you so.”

The same is true for employees. Clearly, if you’re in a leadership position, you have a greater right to determine what the choices are and sometimes it’s “do the job as required or leave.” But otherwise, it’s been my experience that many times, my employees saw choices I never did, (I always tried to hire people who were smarter then I), and I was often impressed by their decisions.

When you truly respect someone, then you respect their ability to not only make their own decisions, but you also trust their ability to recover from any mistakes made, learn the lesson and move on.

Amazing things happen when people know they are completely supported to make a free choice.

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