These are facts that become more acceptable as we age. Not acceptable to the point that we stop attempting to pursue them, but we do come to accept their inevitability. So why does anyone seek to control events, implement detailed plans and strive for perfection?
Our experience tell us it’s impossible to have much control over anything, but still we try. Maybe it’s because we all want to be remembered; to register our existence on the planet. It’s kind of selfish really, but not necessarily.
Of course we do our best to achieve success and receive the rewards that follow. However, education, preparation and training are no guarantee of a memorable outcome. One can be memorable through clever schemes, crime, martyrdom or with the sometimes dubious achievements recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.
To be remembered at all is to achieve immortality. To have one’s efforts and energies recounted by those we love and respect is, to some degree, everlasting. Achieving this lofty status is available to all of us if we will accept an unexpected gift.
Unexpected, because the gift can come at anytime with anyone. The gift is accepted when we share ourselves with others. By actively participating, our lives are enriched by as much as we contribute to others. Birthday parties, vacations and holidays are only memorable when we live in the moment and are fully a part of the experience.
Working with clients, collaborating on projects, cleaning a house, paying the bills and sharing a trip to the store can also be memorable experiences. Accepting each shared opportunity as a gift is all that is required to gain a perch in memory. Once we appreciate the value of jumping in with both feet, the ability to share the gift of experience with friends, colleagues, associates and admirers is easy.
Have you experienced an unexpected gift that influenced your life?
Joseph and Nancy
Opportunity is the key to success. However, opportunity is no guarantee of success. On many occasions opportunities arrive unannounced, some with serious downsides. Turning puzzles into advantages requires aggressive preparation and readiness born of experience, practice and leadership. By identifying what success will look like and then sharing that vision with all involved before opportunities arise, each and every opportunity can be turned into a measurable success.
Daniel Pink, the working man’s Malcolm Gladwell, has written a new book called DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Like his first book A Whole New Mind, Pink points out connections between the obscure and the obvious. His book pits the latest scientific discoveries about the mind against the outmoded wisdom that claims people can only be motivated by the hope of gain and the fear of loss. Pink packages ideas into applications providing employers and employees with the methods and the means to get more of what they want, the way they want it. Don’t let the cover design scare you off. This is career-changing stuff.
In Dr. Kevin Leman’s book Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child’s Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days, he insists that the only way to correct bad behavior in children is to change your reactions to their behavior. Anyone who has dealt with a strong-willed child knows that it is no easy task to turn bad behavior around. Bestselling author and psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman can help to make a difference. With his signature wit and encouragement, Dr. Leman offers hope and real, practical, doable strategies for regaining control and becoming the parents our children need. Not to say that badly behaved adults are like children but the application of Dr. Leman’s ideas to adult relationships with similar issues is a bonus.
You don’t need to be a fan of professional baseball to appreciate to a true professional. Jane Leavy’s book Sandy Koufax, A Lefty’s Legacy has more to do with the man and his choices that any game. Professional sports are all about the numbers. In his last four seasons Sandy Koufax’s numbers were the best ever. With a career half as long as the average pitcher, Koufax set a standard for performance that was twice as successful as any pitcher of his era. However, Koufax the person transcends the player by keeping the game he loved in perspective with who he was.
One example: In 1965, Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in Game One of the World Series because it was Yom Kippur, a Jewish holy day. Koufax’s decision and his pitching brilliance remain a source of pride among devout American Jews, even those who aren’t baseball fans. Unable to sustain that same level of performance for health reasons, Sandy retired one year later at the peak of his career. He became the youngest player ever to be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame. Sandy Koufax defined success on his own terms, using is own standards.
Much of what goes on in sports can be explained by incentives, fears and a desire for approval. You just have to know where to look. Scorecasting is the sports equivalent of Freakonomics. Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim have written the most important and fascinating sports book in years. Athletes and coaches are encouraged to challenge conventional strategies with calculated risks, producing unconventional results. Just like in life, a little risk is usually a very worthwhile thing.
Jeffrey Toobin’s book, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, explains for the novice and explores for the devotee the mysteries behind the black robes. It articulates the rise of the conservative movement through the legal world and its acceleration in 2005 with the death of Justice Rehnquist and resignation of Justice O’Connor within a few months of each other. This is a fascinating story about complex and brilliant jurists who are equally spoiled and elevated by the human condition.
What is plastic soup? How long is a New York minute? What building did Elvis leave last? Who were the Olmecs, and the Eight Immortals? Get the answers to these and many other vexing questions in NPR librarian Kee Malesky’s compendium of fascinating facts on subjects ranging from history to science to the arts. It’s the ideal gift for every inquiring mind that wants to know.
John Hunt’s unassuming book is all about how to see, the art of observation and what we gain by taking the time to experience the everyday in new and unexpected ways. This is not a “feel good” book, something left over from the 60s, but a beautifully written and illustrated owner’s manual for our own senses. Instructive? Yes. Inventive and imaginative? For sure. Chapters like Lemmings Have Plans Too and Expediency is Not an Idea are but a few subjects worthy of your time.
After getting past Hartmut Esslinger's (Frog Design) sometimes condescending-sounding manner, he has a great deal to say worth hearing. Filled with process-driven strategies that are almost clairvoyant, reading the book is like hanging on to a bucking bronco. Sony, Apple and Lufthansa did and gained financially and culturally.
The latest book from Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Blink is the best of the three. Outliers focuses on identifying success and failure in all of their forms and conditions. His book is smart, fun and disturbing. Readers will discover that the distance between winners and losers is about 10,000 hours of work plus the luck of circumstances and your birthday. There are several Aha! moments that if applied might change your life.
Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind, Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future is worth your time. Left-brain skills (logical, analytical, sequential), while still necessary, are becoming a commodity, Pink argues, while right-brain talents (artistic, empathic, more about context than content) will be at a premium in the future. Pink writes with charm and humor about subjects that heretofore were rarely, if ever, charming or funny.