Old Friends Die Hard

Love never dies… and neither does a great friendship.

*****

My childhood best friend (who was my best friend for 18 years) has been dead almost as long as he was alive. Mike (yep–same name and our birthdays were less than a day apart), was the reason I wanted to find my way in the world and be something more than the people I saw around me. His intelligence and wit shined.

He was the first leader I ever knew. People were drawn to him and wanted to follow him anywhere. Little did I know I would be dispensing advice he gave me when we were barely out of our teens, more than two decades later.

While sitting with a friend who is single and was lamenting about not having found a good partner yet, I quipped, “Being single: greatest days, worst nights.” My friend said, “Right. Your friend Mike told you that, right?” He had never met Mike. Nicole never met Mike but knows him as if he is an old high-school buddy who has just moved away but we still chat over the phone. In other words, although Mike has been gone for more time than we knew each other, he is still an active participant in my life.

You probably have a friend like this (living or passed) and may not even realize their impact in your life.

People come and go in our lives every day, most of them disappearing into obscurity. The best people, though, they are like Mike.

Truly best friends are immortal. They live with you forever.

 

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Remember That Time When We Were SO Drunk?

Today’s Lesson: The best memories are the ones you can remember.

*****

I was thinking of listing my Top Ten Favorite Memories of my life so far, just for me, just for fun–not a blog post. After spending hours debating the first few  (“well, that is a great memory but is it really a top ten?”), I decided it is a nigh-impossible task.

However, while sorting through the wake of my life, I realized something. All of my most memorable memories are ones where I was clear-headed, happy, sober, and usually doing something active. Walking to breakfast at a coffee-shop in Savannah, for example, or scuba-diving in the Guadalupe River in Texas, or playing in the ocean with my dad and brothers in Punta Cana.

I hear people reminisce over half-memories, where the sum of the story is, “We go SO drunk… yeah… that was a crazy night.”

If you really want to have fun seeing this in action, ask someone about their last family vacation and you will hear a turn-by-turn tale of funny adventures. Then find someone who has been to Vegas more than a month ago and have them recount their trip–you will get something that vocally sounds the way a freshly shaken jigsaw puzzle looks. “Oh man, you should have been there… the lights… $2,000 on Blackjack… amazing shrimp! And he took a picture… but she was a hooker! Then I saw Elton John and it… whoa… that guy, just like in ‘The Hangover’! Here, check out this picture… No, I have no idea who that is.”

I suspect the reason why “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is because no one actually remembers what happens in Vegas.

I do not mean to hate on Vegas, by the way. I have not been there since I was sixteen and I am sure it is still a cool place. The point is that our best memories probably do not involve excessive alcohol or sitting around watching television or playing video games. Those are not the things you will remember and want to share later. It is the time spent with family, laughing, or doing something novel.

In other words, I am suggesting your best memories are made when you are at your best. Those are the moments worth remembering.

 

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Why You Should Eat Dessert First

Sometimes we live backwards. I don’t know why.

***

I like dessert. Too much, probably. I am probably known at a few restaurants as “the guy that always orders dessert first”. Enjoying dessert before the main course is the logical way to enjoy a meal if you ask me. We spend too much time living backwards and here is one place we can get it right.

Think about this. We work our butts off when we are young, saving money until we retire so we can finally relax and enjoy life when we are old and feeble and can not do any of the things we dreamed about doing with our money. It’s crazy, right? Wouldn’t it be cool if we started with a lump sum of money and nothing but free time to enjoy it until we turned, say, 40, and then we entered the work force to pay our debt? (Many of you know me as a serious thinker… just to be clear, this is not a serious proposition.)

We force kids to spend an entire work-week in school learning to be sedentary, depressed adults. What if, instead, we let them explore the world actively every day and built education into physical exploration and activity?

We live so much of life backwards. Why save the best part until the end? Why eat dessert after we are stuffed and we know we won’t enjoy it as much? Try ordering the good stuff first and savor it while you wait for the meal. Give up the self-punishment. You know you are going to eat the food either way. Why wait for the best part? Why live like all the good stuff can only happen at the end? Who knows? You might not even make it through dinner. I would be pretty upset if I choked to death on a piece of asparagus when I knew I was planning on having a cupcake after that! (If I choked to death on a cupcake, I would still be upset, but… you know, a little less… people would wonder why I died with a pained but satisfied look on my face.)

 

Today’s lesson: Save the best for first!

 

 

 

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When the Whole World is Against You

When life gives you lemons… 

***

Sometimes I feel like the world is out to get me.

I wanted a nice, relaxing weekend. A long work week was tidied up, I chose to stay home and take some time for myself instead of being social, and I was looking forward to doing a lot of writing and little of anything else.


Of course, the best laid plans are sometimes torn asunder. By six in the morning on Saturday, I had an employee quit, a sick cat, and a message from a friend needing my help. I was not even out of bed and the weekend pretty much stuttered its way into being from there. The rest of Saturday and Sunday consisted of chores and work crises (I did manage to see a movie and had a moment of respite at a local cafe while I wrote yesterday’s blog).

There were certainly times when I was frustrated and felt like my weekend was stolen from me, but I knew almost immediately the lesson I was going to take away.

Today’s lesson: Maybe the world is out to get me but it doesn’t matter. There will always be obstacles in my path, always someone or something ready to derail me from my plans (and often that obstacle is me). There is no point being mad about it. The universe leaves the onus on me to make my plans work within the context of what the world throws at me.

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Today’s Lesson: Give Until It Hurts [141019]

Why should I contribute to the success of others if they end up getting ahead of me?

 

Many people share this mentality and hoard information or resources that can help move their friends, peers, or organization forward. They feel over-protective of their success and actively defend it by keeping their best ideas and practices to themselves.

I think a better way to live is to share your best work, ideas, and resources without worrying about what is in it for you. The funny thing is, there is still a lot in it for you. Consider:

 

  • Not being afraid of someone else taking your work or insight and having success allows your ideas to grow and flourish without you having to be the driving force behind them all the time. The time you have in a day, and in life, is limited. Sharing your ideas multiplies your effectiveness without robbing you of your time.
  • Sharing your best ideas frees you up to create more. Once your ideas are out of your head and in the world, you can let others move forward with them while you work on newer, bigger things.
  • People will use your ideas in ways you did not imagine. They might edit something or add their own ideas to create something surprising and even better than what you originally came up with.
  • Someone else might profit from your ideas or mentoring. They may earn a raise or promotion ahead of you or might execute some of your ideas better or faster than you were able to. That can be frustrating if your only goal is to make money or achieve political gain. The game for me, though, is to build influence and help as many other people move forward as possible.

 

I think we simply do not have enough of the right kinds of leaders in the world, so I want my message and lessons to spread as far and wide as they can, as peacefully and quickly as possible. That is why I do not charge for any content on my blog (maybe that will change one day but there are no current plans to start) and it is not invitation-only.

Anyone can share my work with anyone else in pretty much any format chosen (but I do appreciate being given credit for my work). That is also why I help my peers (and sometimes my competition) apply my best practices and ideas and take what they have learned from me to their friends and peers. I do not win by making more money or becoming famous. I win by starting change in the world.

The lesson today is simple: don’t hoard your best ideas. Share them and see how many lives you can improve. Besides, what else are you going to do while you are here?

 

 


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