MONDAY PROOF


Welcome to Monday, a day most people dread. The work week is ahead of us and as many people fear, the opportunity to make mistakes. Personally, I don’t mind making mistakes. There are three wonderful, yes I said wonderful, things that come from mistakes.

First, like the picture said they are proof you are trying. There is no way to live a mistake free life. Sure, you could sit around and not do anything, but then you don’t live at all and in my mind that is the biggest mistake. We might misjudge, need to improve physically, mentally or emotionally. There are a million reasons why we might make mistakes. Maybe we just didn’t have all the information needed to make the correct decision or take the correct action.
Not only is it proof we are trying, but it is an opportunity to learn. When we make mistakes we often think to ourselves such disempowering things as, “I can’t believe I did that!” or “I was so stupid for making that mistake!” What if you replaced those statements with ones such as, “Next time I know how I will do that!” or “I am so glad I learned how to do this. I will be better next time!” It is a totally different mindset. Mistakes are some of the best teachers.
The third thing I think is wonderful about mistakes is that is provides us a unique opportunity to show our character. Owning up to mistakes and not letting them get you down shows that you have a strong character. You cannot display this unless you do make a mistake. Through showing what kind of character you have you can earn respect from others. Everyone loves and respects someone who owns up to their mistakes, don’t they?
From now on let us put mistakes to work for us. It sucks when they happen, but we can turn them from a negative to a positive using the three examples above.

THE LATEST SUPERHERO I MET

This is one of my favorite quotes. Someone who is physically capable has no reason to at the very least return their shopping cart to the cart corral. I stand corrected. There is only one reason – laziness. If you are so inconsiderate to other shoppers and parkers, not to mention the store employees who have the job of collecting these carts, then perhaps you should try doing their job for a week. It also shows a pattern. If you are too lazy to return your shopping cart, what other corners are you cutting in your life? That is the thought behind the above quote.

A successful person is one who will do what is right and what should be done even when it may not be the easiest thing to do. They will not only think of just themselves, but of the others who could be impacted by there actions. Can you imagine how you would feel if your brand new car was dented and scratched by a shopping cart someone carelessly left in the parking lot? What if you had a sore back and had to park further away because all of the close spots were taken by random carts left by strangers. Maybe you might not even have a cart to use because they were spread throughout the parking lot? Careless actions like this also cause prices to rise. Stores must replace or repair carts that have been damaged or stolen. That price is often passed on to all consumers. Something I am guessing our lazy friend had not thought about.

This leads me to share an amazing story I witnessed the other day. I was picking Margie up from the local craft store as she was picking up supplies for her business while I was writing. As I got out of my car I saw a lady who was easily in her 80’s walking with a walker. Do you know what she was doing? Pushing both her walker and her cart up to the store to return it. My only regret is I did not arrive sooner to help her. She laboriously made her way back to her car with her walker. She had every excuse to leave her cart in the middle of the parking lot, but she didn’t. To me, that woman is a superhero.

Ask yourself next time you are tempted to do a job half way, “What does this say about my character?” Chances are if you are skipping things you deem unimportant, you are also cutting some corners in your life where it really matters. Remember character is built by the actions we take when nobody is watching.

WHAT IS YOUR STORY?

This blog post created itself last night. After Margie and I had finished our Wednesday night show and found ourselves driving with our friend Kelly. We began sharing defining moments from our childhood that defined who we are today. It caused me to reflect on a few moments that I would like to share with you. More so, it made me think of something far more important that we will get to right after this moment of reflection.

For those of you who may have been reading my writings of late, I have shared the story of my senior year English teacher. On the final day before graduation, she pulled me aside and said in an almost pleading tone, “I pray to God you will never have a career involving writing.” Given the evidence up to that point I would have been inclined to agree with her, but here we are.

Another fun story involved a teacher I had for business. She was a kindly lady. She kind of reminded me of someone’s grandmother from a Norman Rockwell painting. My relationship with this wonderful woman was great. We laughed, smiled and shared many good conversations. I would have said I was the perfect student with one glaring exception. In this class it just so happened I was surrounded by friends of mine. It also happened these were friends that like conversation as much as I did. Daily we shared conversations about life, love and our pursuit of happiness. When the time came out for giving everyone a grade I still recall what this teacher wrote. Written next to my grade was the comment, “Neil will do a lot better in life when he understands you can’t make a living discussing life and its challenges with people.” Once again, here we are. Discussing life and how to positively approach and overcome its challenges. Granted you might be reading this in Greenland, South Africa or Fiji while I am here in West Allis, Wisconsin, but virtually we are engaged in this conversation.

Let me share a more comical example from my youth. Second grade I do believe. I had a good friend who had just moved away and I found myself in trouble for something. That part seems to remain vague. As punishment I was to stand with my back against the wall and watch the other kids enjoying recess and playing on the playground. Sounds a little cruel in hindsight but I guess it served as a lesson – almost. As I was standing there I thought of a joke. One of the kids walked by and I told him my joke. He thought it was so funny he went to bring other kids to hear it. Before recess was over I found myself doing what could be described as a forced stand up comedy routine.

I saved this example for last because it was by far the darkest example. I was part of a group called ‘peer helpers’ in high school. The program was designed to help students who were facing addiction, abuse or any other emotional trauma. To me it sounded like a great idea on the surface. It became apparent very quickly that I disagreed with the approach of the program. It seemed to approach the issues from that of the adults who formed the group and not of the youths facing the challenges. I soon politely left the group. All would have been ok with one exception. I really did have the desire to help and still talked to many of the kids I had met in the program. I tried methods I believed might reach them. This was especially true because most of them had stopped asking for help from the Peer Helpers program.

Again, this would have all been good, but my locker happened to be right across the hallway from the lady who was in charge of the program. Once she noticed that quite a few of the students who left her group were coming up to my locker and asking questions she stormed over. She issued what can only be viewed as a veiled threat. She yelled how dare I think I could help kids better than she could and I better stop what I was doing “or else.” I really wasn’t trying to do anything but help people the best way I thought I could. I continued to do so with a little more discretion. Two days before I was set to graduate I was summoned to the principle’s office. When I arrived the teacher was there along with several police officers. This teacher, this adult, this individual who is supposed to be an example told all of them I had threatened to physically harm her. Not only was that a total lie, but I had no malice towards this woman, merely a difference in philosophy. Luckily, with the support and sworn statements of my character from other instructors I had and her changing her story several times the matter was all but dropped.

What is the point of all of these stories? The point is that anyone of these stories could have had a very negative impact on my life. What made the difference is that I chose what they meant to me. My high school English teacher could have prevented me from ever starting this site which has close to 1000 posts. What she told me could have dissuaded me from ever writing my book A Happy Life for Busy People. My business teacher tried to convince me there was no future in listening to the challenges people face in life and trying to help create solutions, but that is the basis of all I do.

Through my punishment that day in second grade I learned the power of humor to reach people. I also learned that sometimes when the world seems to be taken away from you, the best solution is to make the world come to you. It is a theme that kind of plays throughout the videos on my YouTube channel. It also showed me new and wonderful ways to make friends. The lesson that if you can introduce your material to enough people it can really change your situation didn’t escape me either.

The final dark situation could have steered me in many different directions. I could have decided not to trust authority. Certainly learning that ego can override professionalism and make people act in ways they shouldn’t. I could have decided that it meant if I try to do things on my own in a way I feel will help the most people it will lead to trouble and could land me in jail. Of course it also showed me the value of displaying and acting with the best character and highest standards.

What is your story? What events have transformed your life? Have you let them decide what you can or can’t do? Are they putting limits on your life or are you using them to motivate you? The story of our lives should not be told through the mouths or actions of others. Realize you are not a victim of your past but a victor over it. You have made it to today despite what you have been told and what has happened to you. Do not let your past or those in it steal your power for a strong future. Find the empowerment in every challenge you have faced, or may now be facing.