August 31, 2010

Life Happens

READY8 “The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” ~ Tom Bodett

AIM8 You know, sometimes life just happens. Last week, my daughter woke up with extreme leg pain. She didn’t have any accidents, she didn’t have growing pains but yet my non-wussy girl was in tears. Needless to say, day three of the new school year was spent at the pediatrician’s office, getting an x-ray of her leg and resting on the couch. There goes her perfect attendance award! Yep, life happened. The good news is that they think she simply strained her hip and it was treated with ibuprofen, rest and hot baths. Great, it was totally manageable and her condition improved as the week progressed. Unfortunately, a dear friend of mine had a more serious “life happens” moment a few weeks ago. Her son is a senior in high school this year. He is a star athlete and a starter on a high-profile, Division 1 football team in Ohio. During pre-season practice, he was struck during a play by a teammate which resulted in a concussion. After six hours in the emergency room, they were faced with the reality that his football career was most likely over. He had just experienced his third concussion in two years and therefore, for his future health and safety, he was going to have to give up one of the loves of his life: football. Life happened for that young man.

Life happens to all of us every single day. It looks different to each one of us. It could be a flat tire, a bad hair day, a grumpy boss, a bad report from the doctor, an unexpected bill in the mail, a missed promotion; you name it, life looks like many things. However, it’s not so much what truly happens to us, as it is how we respond when life happens to us. When things don’t go your way do you throw a temper tantrum, have a pity party for yourself or scream and shout in anger and frustration? Or, when things don’t go your way do you reflect on the bigger picture, pray for God’s clear direction or cry it out and move on? More than anything, we simply need to understand that life is going to happen to each one of us at some point in our lives. How we handle ourselves may contribute towards the success or failure of the outcome of our experience. Not to mention, others are always observing our behaviors and how we react to the situations we encounter in life. Most of us would choose to respond in a positive manner if we can keep our wits about us and remember we are influencing others with our responses. Let me encourage you to see your challenges as opportunities to grow your character and develop the areas in your life where you are weak. Overcoming your character flaws will allow you to become a stronger individual, to become a better role model and to become a person of excellence. Yep, life just happens, and when it does, I hope you’ll be ready.

FIRE!8 When life happens to you this week, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Put your life in perspective. More than likely, that brief, silent moment will allow you to keep your response positive and full of hope.

Be Excellent!

August 24, 2010

I Just Don't Want To

READY8 “Today is just a good day in disguise.” ~ Paul Venghaus

AIM8 Ever have a day where you just don’t want to do anything? That’s the day when you need that extra cup of coffee or for the radio to play a song you just have to sing along with in order to get that jump start you’re lacking. If we feel this way on occasion, then why do we question our children about why they “just don’t want to do things?” Truth be told, they are young, impressionable and are still learning what’s right, what’s wrong and what they can get away with in life. As adults, we know what’s right, we know what’s wrong and we know, mostly, what we can and cannot get away with. For children, their parents are their main motivators and the ones who keep them on track and moving ahead. For you, what, or who, is YOUR motivator? If you’re honest with yourself, you know that YOU are your own motivator. You cannot rely on others to keep you moving forward. So, what’s holding you back today? To quote Disney World’s Carousel of Progress attraction, “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day.” What are YOU waiting for? GO! Seize the day! You are the only one standing in your way, so step aside and look out world! Here you come!

FIRE!8 Put on your big kid pants, grab coffee if you have to, and step head-strong into today! I’m certain that whatever challenge you are predestined to face, or whatever opportunity you are attempting to unfold, you will approach it with enthusiasm, success and a silly victory dance will be in order this evening.

Be Excellent!

August 17, 2010

Am I Invisible, Part 2?

READY8 “Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

AIM8 Several of our readers responded with enthusiasm regarding last week’s message about cashiers acknowledging your presence in the check-out line. It goes without saying that our observations apply to anyone in a position who deals with the public on a face-to-face basis. Interestingly enough, it was brought to my attention that we must be aware of the other side of the coin. In other words, it’s possible that the cashier, or service employee, may feel invisible if the customer is not attentive.

Surely, when you approach the check-out line in a store, you have your items ready, your payment method is easily accessible and you are giving your full attention to the cashier. In a perfect world, you would have light conversation, all your items would ring up accurately (because you are paying attention) and both the cashier and you would part ways with a joyful farewell. However, it’s not a perfect world, and more often than not, the customer is the cause for a less-than-satisfactory experience. Why, you ask? Two words: cell phones! Oh yes, you know the ones, they insist on talking on their phones while the cashiers or fast food attendants are attempting to repeat orders or give important instructions for payment. Heaven forbid they ask the other party to hold on during their transaction, or better yet, call the other party back after they leave the store. Seriously, is there anything THAT important that it can’t wait an additional 2-5 minutes until you are finished with your business? Even if your phone rings while you are in the middle of a transaction, the person on the other line can leave a message or you can call him back when your business is completed. If there is an emergency situation, the caller will continue to reach you; guaranteed. Choosing to talk on your cell phone sends a loud and clear message to the cashier that you do not care about her enough to give her your full attention for the next few minutes, and now, she is more likely to become irritated and perhaps even, make mistakes. Hmmmm, sounds like an easy decision to make to me. When you are dealing with public employees in any venue, be polite. Use common courtesy and leave your cell phone in your pocket or your purse until you leave the store. All parties involved will be happy with your decision.

FIRE!8 The next time you are at dinner with your family or friends, leave your cell phone in your purse or pocket. Give the important people in your life your full, undivided attention. Resist the urge to text or talk during your visit. Your connection will be so much more meaningful as a result of your courteous choice.

Be Excellent!

August 13, 2010

Am I Invisible?

READY8 "There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else." ~ Sam Walton

AIM8 As we walked away from the check-out line, my 10 year-old son commented to me, “Mom, that lady didn’t even say hi to us or tell us good-bye or anything!” Yes, right out of the mouth of one of my babes. The ironic thing about his comment is that his observation is one of my biggest pet peeves – not being recognized by the cashier at the check-out line. Come on, am I invisible?

I have a HUGE awareness about being recognized by my cashier because I WAS a cashier. Being a cashier at a local grocery store was my first real job after I graduated from high school. Funny, I learned early on that if you’re nice to the customers and make them feel good about themselves (and you make a conscious effort to be fast and efficient at your job) your line will always be full and your work shift will be over sooner rather than later. You have a captive moment when it’s only you and the customer, so why not make it positive? Yes, I know, not everyone thinks that way. Unfortunately, it seems the vast majority of the cashiers in this world fail to recognize that they are the face, voice and final marketing seal for their employers. What a huge difference it would make if the cashiers made it their mission to make you feel appreciated for shopping at their store and choosing their line for your final transaction. I seek out cashiers I have had previous excellent service from because I want positive experiences for myself and my family. Nothing gets under my skin more than a couple of cashiers and bag boys, or even assistant managers, carrying on their own personal conversations while I, their valued customer, stand right in front of them listening when they should be conversing with ME…the person that’s contributing to their paychecks!! Again, am I invisible?

Sigh…as I step down off my soapbox, I have to admit, I have made it my personal mission to mentor those uninterested cashiers, even if they don’t realize it. As I approach my turn in the check-out line, I wait to allow the cashier to acknowledge me with a simple “hello” first. If she doesn’t say anything, I promptly say “Hi there!” in an attempt to interact with her while we have our one-on-one time together. If further conversation is warranted, I’ll gladly oblige. You never know what kind of an impact you’re going to make on someone’s day. If she does not announce my final total (indicating the end of our transaction), I will ask for confirmation of my total. Again, asking about the total allows for additional interaction with the cashier; not to mention, gives me a chance to get my payment ready. Finally, with receipt in hand, I pause allowing the cashier to give me a farewell comment. If nothing is said, I simply smile and say “Thank you. Have a great day!” Hopefully, I will at least get a “Thank you.” However, there seems to be a day when even “thank you” is difficult for cashiers to say and that’s where my comment could actually make or break their day. I make it my mission to turn their frown upside down. Plus, it helps keep me in a positive frame of mind instead of focusing on my less-than-stellar check-out experience.

FIRE!8 I challenge you to make it your personal mission to acknowledge your cashier if she does not acknowledge you first. Your positive attitude and simple “Hello” might be the very comment that changes her outlook on life that day; not to mention keeping your own good attitude in check.

Be Excellent!

August 4, 2010

Extra Grace Required

READY8 “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” ~ Hebrews 4:16 NIV

AIM8 Sometimes you just have to wonder why certain people keep popping up in your life. You know the ones; they don’t necessarily fit the mold as your ideal friends, neighbors or co-workers. I fondly refer to these folks as my EGRs; there is extra grace required!

Grace can be defined many different ways. However, in reference to our folks in question, we’ll define grace as “undeserved love and mercy.” Yes, it’s the same kind of grace God gives us without hesitation day after day. So, if God gives us grace every day, regardless of our mistakes, stumbles, and crazy life choices, then why do we have such a hard time offering grace to those folks in our lives that need it? I truly believe those EGR people keep popping up in our lives because God is giving us the opportunity to give grace back to those who we feel don’t necessarily deserve it, but who may need it to get back on their feet, or even to get through a rough day.

The next time you encounter an EGR person, rethink your response to her actions. You never really know what she is dealing with at home, at work, or personally. Your extra effort and gift of grace may be the very thing that keeps her out of trouble and on the right path in life.

FIRE!8 I challenge you to seek out that one EGR person in your path and show her some grace today. Believe me, it might be uncomfortable at first; however, you will make her feel better about life AND you will feel incredible because you did something amazing that will be a positive example to others.

Be Excellent!