BECOME YOUR OWN HERO

The last few posts we have been talking about heroes. How we can learn from our hero’s mistakes, what we can learn from those we consider heroes long after they are gone and a few other tidbits along the way. Today we are going to learn something very powerful – how to become our own hero. This may sound a bit cliche and corny, but stick with me and I think you will discover what an interesting and powerful thought process this can be.

In my upcoming book, Living the Dream, I suggest looking at your life as if you are the star in your own movie. This is not only helpful, this is true. I recall working at the Greendale Post Office with some charming and witty gentleman. We will call them Don and Tom. We will do so because that is what their names actually were. Normally I like to change names to protect the innocent, but if you are calling them charming and witty I think we should be alright. Both of these gentleman were big fans of the cinema. On their morning break before heading out to deliver their respective mail routes, they would discuss all matter of movie-related material. Favorite directors, favorites actors and other such things.

One fun activity they would occasionally engage in was casting fellow employees. Lining them up with what actor would make a great match. This could be challenging as there was a cast of characters like no other at that location. There were loud and immature coworkers, vindictive bosses, dark and mysterious regular customers. Sometimes people were matched according to looks, sometimes according to character. The most difficult time came when they were forced to cast themselves. After much contemplation, they always decided on actors that seemed to reflect on their best qualities, or even qualities they may have wished they possessed. This seemed like a fun fancy at the time.

In reflection, it can be a truly powerful tool to increase and improve our own character. If you were to pick a star to play you in a movie who would it be and why? I encourage you to grab a pen and paper and write down some ideas. Pick a few actors and write down their names. Then write down what traits you feel your character would need to have to reflect who you are. Maybe even add some traits you would like to add that you may not have at the moment. Carry this list around with you or at the very least, toss it in the car. Then, before you go into work or a job interview, review it. Walk into work or that interview like the person you would cast yourself to be. In this way I think you will develop a new appreciation for the actions you take. The truth is, not only are we stars in our own films, we are also the directors, casting agents and writers. If we do not like what our life is like right now, we can always write a new script or cast a new co-star. If we do like the performance of a certain actor (say how a person makes us feel when we are around them) it is up to us to offer them more lines (spend more time with this person)

Heroes do not have to be actors. Another great exercise we can do to help us develop and grow into the person we would like to be is simple, fun and as follows. Again, you will need a pen and a piece of paper. Write down traits that you have currently. Now add traits you either are trying to further develop or maybe start having for the first time. For example, let us say you are trying to be brave. Who do you think personifies bravery? Some names that come to mind are famous generals during battle. As we think a little more, further examples may come to mind. A name who comes to mind mind is Rosa Parks. She was a woman who peacefully, but bravely challenged racist stereotypes of the day. She did so not with violence or disrespect, but by standing up for what she believed. This could have resulted in serious consequences for her, included physical harm or even death. There are our friends who come out with the truth of who they are despite facing ridicule from friends, family members and society as a whole. To me, those people are brave.

Whatever trait you are looking to develop there are several examples for you to study. I suggest doing so. Read their autobiographies. Look for video documentaries on YouTube about them. Learn how they developed the traits you are looking to emulate. It can, perhaps, give you some ideas of methods you can try in your own life.

DAY 3 OF THE JULY WORLD-CHANGING CHALLENGE!

Today is one of those positive things that just come to you, or in this case me. My day started out like any other, waking up early to go to the gym. On this fine morning I had to get up a little earlier than normal to get my workout in. I had to stop at the mechanic as my battery in my Ford Escape had seemed to have broken free of its confines. I made it to the mechanic with time for them to look at it and still make it to my day job at the United States Postal Service. Fortunately for me, the repair only took a matter of minutes and they were able to correct the problem for the moment.

While this was good on one hand, it left me with too much time to go to work, but not enough time to go back home. I decided I would visit the Starbucks that is conveniently located next to the Post Office I work at. I parked and began to walk up. There were two young ladies already sitting outside enjoying the sunny day. They informed me that only seconds before a lady had rushed to the door and taped up a sign that said “Sorry closed” and locked the door. I chuckled thinking to myself, “Perhaps they knew I was coming.” They only other thing open in near proximity was a sandwich shop. I availed myself to one of their delicious offerings and took it outside to sit in the sun. Only moments into enjoying my unplanned lunch, the manager of the now closed coffee shop came out and inquired if I would be interested in a free Nitro coffee. After affirming quickly she disappeared inside again. When she came out she explained that the hot water heater had exploded and the entire store was under water! She knew I was a good customer and wanted to make sure I still got something. Sitting in the hot sun, the cold coffee tasted ever so good.

This was a positive event for several reasons. First, I got a free delicious coffee. You can never go wrong there. Second, it reminded me how important it is to be nice to everyone you encounter. (More on that tomorrow) Had I not been a frequent and nice customer, I doubt there would have been such an offer made. It was also impressive that the manager took the time to think of me while she was busy trying to salvage items in the face of the oncoming flood. I left with a very positive feeling and it was a great start to the rest of my day!

I hope you are having great luck finding one positive thing you can post. Do not forget to share them online and spread the joy this first week of July!

DAY 4 OF OUR HAPPINESS JOURNEY

Fear less, try more. Ooh…this is a good one. Another area that I struggle with. Everyone deep down wants to try more, I believe. What is stopping us then? What prevents us from trying for that new job we really want? Why not approach that person you find so attractive and start a conversation with them? These certainly would be good outcomes, would they not? Why do we not at least attempt those things that we know have the potential to lead us closer to an amazing life?

The answer is one simple word we are all too familiar with – fear. There used to be many areas of my life that fear seemed to rule the day. There were many things that I wanted to try, but didn’t because I was full of fear. What exactly was I afraid of? This may sound a bit vain because…well…it is. I was afraid of looking stupid. Whenever we start something new there is a period where we are not so good at it. I think of things in my life I excel at, take being a bartender for example, and I recall that when I started there was a growth period. It may even seem hard to imagine not knowing some of what I do, but let us not get ahead of ourselves.

The idea that there is a learning curve to everything we do is not a complex intellectual thought to grasp. I know that I will look foolish at something for a while until I become good at it. I even realize that others know and understand that I will look foolish when trying something new. The key here is that I know these things intellectually. Emotionally, that is a completely different story. Raise your hand if you enjoy looking foolish. Although I cannot see you, I bet most of you do not have your hand raised. It can seem almost physically painful to some.

So how did I, and more importantly, how can you overcome this hurdle? I am going to share some things that worked for me and they may just work for you. In the comments below this post I would love to hear what tools you use to overcome fear and try something new. I am going to go back to my example of learning to be a bartender. My very first day I was told it was easy that most people order beer or common drinks whose names tell you how to make them (think rum and coke) I was told that if they ordered something unusual that all I had to do was keep up the banter while I looked the recipe up in a book we had behind the bar. (This was before cell phones and Google) Confident in my skill of conversation I approached my first customer. I greeted them and inquired what they would enjoy. I will never forget the drink – A Quick Carlos. There is no liquor named Carlos that one could serve quickly, so I opened the book as I continued my conversation with the gentleman. Not many recipes that start with ‘Q’. Then my worst fear – there was no recipe!! I ran back to the skilled bartender who was teaching me. We will call him ‘Jimmy’ for the sole reason that was what his name was. I explained the dire situation as Jimmy looked at me as if I were 3/4 stupid. “Well then ask them what is in it.” I had not considered this course of action as I did not want to look like what I was, a new and not so knowledgeable bartender. 23 years and millions of drinks later I wouldn’t hesitate to ask someone what is in the drink they want.

Starting at the Post Office was the same. When I was being trained I was told, “Don’t worry most people just buy stamps or mail a first-class package.” My very first customer, I cannot make this up, said “I would like to send this international registered with a return receipt to Mexico.” Talk about fumbling, looking foolish and struggling. Again, 22 years and several customer service awards later, I would be fine explaining I wanted to check to make sure I am doing this right.

What changed? Having those examples of struggling and now being accomplished gave me a chance to do it. Knowing you are not the only one who has this issue also helps. I heard a commencement speech by the actor Denzel Washington. In the speech he said something that was very simple, but was great to hear out of a mouth of someone so accomplished. He simply said, “You will suck at something.” There were obviously more inspiring words around that. If not, that would have been a very short and not so inspiring speech. Still, hearing those words from someone else somehow made it easier.

To this day, I search for ways to face and overcome fear in my life. David Goggins, one of the hardest men on the planet admitted to having a great amount of fear in his life. He also mentioned what he gained by facing his own fears. Using other people’s examples can propel us to face our own. Greg Plitt (R.I.P.) made it clear that the easiest and best time to attack fear is when it first shows up because that is when it is the weakest. Let it bounce around in our heads a while, and it can grow big and strong. He also pointed out something very interesting. Fear is self-created. The only place it exists is in our own minds. We created it, therefore we have the power to destroy it.

As you can see the battle against fear is a daily ongoing fight. We need all the weapons we can muster. With that in mind, I implore of you to share with us the techniques you use to overcome fear in your own life.

MY FIRST DAY WITH CORONAVIRUS

Today’s post was scheduled to be about appreciating all of the things we took for granted before this coronavirus started. Can you imagine walking into a store and not having to worry about what was in stock? How much thought had we given to toilet paper before this? All of this will be touched on Monday.

Reason being I discovered that I, myself, have the coronavirus today. I want to share with you a sort of day to day production of what happened in hopes it will help put to rest a lot of fear that is out there. I will share with you my journey through this crazy condition. With that in mind I put on my Winnie-the-Pooh onsie and a mask and went to work typing this. So, sit back and I will tell my tale thus far.

The first thing people ask is usually “How did you get it?” If I knew that I would have chose not to get it I suppose. As far as I knew I was around nobody who had symptoms or who had traveled. Between the work at the Postal Service and being a DJ not to mention just being out and about I could have picked it up anywhere. What made me get checked was this. It began with sniffles, which actually went away quickly. It could’ve been part of it or not. Really not too sure. Then I began to feel run down. It is really important to stay rested and well so your immune system stays up. Something I should pay more attention to. Then on Monday I took out the garbage and was out of breath. It is like 20 feet from the house to the dumpster. I knew something wasn’t quite right. Being that I have asthma, I took my inhaler. This normally helps but only seemed to make things worse. I called the doctor who told me because of my bad heart and asthma I was too much of a risk to come in.

The next day was more of the same. A second call to the doctor yielded the same results. “Just stay home and see if you feel any better.” I was told. By then I had to call into work. I did so out of concern for my coworkers. If indeed I had anything I certainly wouldn’t want them to get it. Somehow our complex automated system of 25 questions you have to answer when you call in sick (because there is nothing one wants to day than shout “YES!” to an automated system when you are ill) scheduled me for having the following day off as well. I decided to take this as I was still not feeling better. I would feel tired walking from the kitchen to the living room. Finally my doctor gave in and told me to go to urgent care.

Arriving at urgent care I asked for a mask as I was instructed to do. Ironically, I was the only one in the waiting room with one on. When I finally was called back the nurse in what looked like a hazmat suit took my vitals. She was very nice and informed me everything looked good. No fever, blood pressure normal etc. Then I went for a x-ray on my chest. This was given by a lady with a face shield and other protective equipment. This also came back looking great. They were about to send me home when I mentioned I knew someone who had been to California. They seemed healthy but it was enough to give me the test.

Early this morning I was greeted with a phone call from my boss chastising me for making people nervous about me being sick. I never mentioned being tested for the virus but I guess a silly picture of me in a mask in the waiting room was a bit much for people. There was no wishes for a speedy recovery, just complaints that I shouldn’t make people nervous. This was followed in 30 minutes by a call from my doctor informing me I tested positive. I guess people had a right to know I was sick. I thought long and hard about how best to inform everyone I had been around without causing too much more panic. In the end I decided to post on social media.

Despite the misgivings of my boss, I felt this was the responsible thing to do. That way those who have come in contact with me could get tested if they had symptoms as well. I was truly thankful I had not returned to work after I had begun to feel under the weather. I received helpful information from my doctor as he was able to provide. I have also received many well-wishes from those I am friends with on social media which I am truly grateful for. On top of that, I am at home with my lovely Margie, the most beautiful woman on the planet to nurse me back to health.

I decided to share my journey here so all of you can know what it is like and perhaps I can help to remove some of the fear behind this virus. One very important note is that I have not had any digestive issues, so you can all stop buying so much toilet paper now. I did, however, purchase a water filter pitcher and am very thankful as you are supposed to consume a lot of liquids during this time. There will be daily posts to keep you up to date as to what I go through. If any of you have questions or may have gotten it yourself I welcome you to reach out in the comments below. We will all get through this together~ Keep your heads up my friends.

ASSUMING A SMILE

Today’s motivational thought come courtesy of my dear friend Kurt. That is him and his words in the picture above. When I read what he had to say it brought a very important reminder to light.

When we think of bringing joy to and helping others we usually focus our efforts on those in what we might view as compromising situations. That is important because those are the people who need it the most. Helping at a meal program, bringing items to the hopeless or reaching out to those who seem to be in pain are some of the most noble acts we can do.

Limiting our actions to just those people can be a mistake. Some of those who need our help the most can hide it the best. I recall a gentleman I worked with in the post office. This gentleman came to work every day with a smile and a joke. There were three of us who often worked together in this small office. We would share stories and on occasion we would all share a cocktail after work. One of the funniest men I have ever worked with. After being transfered for several months, I stopped back to help one day and noticed that gentleman was not there. I inquired as to whether he retired or simply had the day off. I was informed the found him in his basement. He had hung himself and left behind several children.

Never would I have imagined this man would have been suffering so greatly on the inside. Very few coworkers have ever made me laugh so hard and so often. The effect on the other gentleman we worked with was devastating. They had worked together more often and were far closer. I am sure that man felt that he should have known something was wrong. The truth is you would have never guessed.

This is the story of more people than we would dare to imagine. Although they may not be to the point of taking their own lives, their smile could be hiding a great deal of pain. That is why it is important to remember to treat everyone with respect and compassion. Let even the happiest of your friends know that you are there for them and that they have a safe place to vent with you. It may mean more than you know. I may just save someone’s life. 

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING 🙂

WORK IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT

Today is Halloween so I will share a scary story with you. As most of you know, I have a day job at the United States Postal Service. In addition to the monetary aspect, it also allows me to practice many of the tools I put forth here. I always strive to be a source of positivity and help my coworkers foster a sense of gratitude and joy. As a matter of course, I always welcome the mail carriers back when they return from their routes. I also routinely ask my coworkers if they are having a good day or having fun at the moment. A gentle reminder that while doing our best to get our jobs done, we can still focus on having fun. Most of the time this is met with some jocularity and on occasion, some comments of encouragement of their own.

There is one young lady, however, that seems quite sunshine challenged. When I inquired if she was having a good day she informed me in no uncertain terms that I should never ask her that as long as she is at work because the answer will always be ‘no’. After 21 years of working there, I am no stranger that the Post Office can supply some challenging situations, as can any job. There are days that are tough, and days that are not. I could not imagine going to some place every day where you know with certainty that you will have a bad day, and doing so voluntarily.

This young lady is a carrier on what they call a ‘rural route’. This means she seldom has to leave her truck and drives up to the mailbox to put the mail in. I think on a nice spring or fall day driving around in a rural setting listening to your favorite music all while getting paid a good wage could sound nice to some people. Sure, there are days when it is raining, or here in Wisconsin snowing, that I can imagine driving for several hours could be a drag, but not every day. How could this be?

The answer was supplied to me last Saturday. This young lady called me over to her case where she sorts her mail. She handed me the scanner all carriers use and said in a rather angry tone, “This is the f*&king sh*t I have to deal with!” I glanced at the scanner. On it was a warning to pay attention to the signs of heat stroke. On this day we were experiencing an early October snow storm. Ironic? For sure. Funny? I thought so. As far as something she had to put up with, I found a message that could easily be deleted and even laughed at to be not that big of a deal. Her perception was that everything was against her and that this was a large obstacle. When viewed through a filter of that nature any job will seem terrible.

This brings to mind a great reminder. We have the option to how we see things. We can find the humor, or we can find the frustration. We can find the gratitude, or the lack. We can find the joy, or we can find the pain. It is all up to us. When we look for the good in things it can transform our days and jobs into things we enjoy, or certainly do not dread.

AM I YOUR BROTHER?

I cannot claim complete credit for this blog. Then again, that can be said for most of my blogs. This one was specifically inspired by my coworker Jon. We were driving back from helping a different coworker who had gotten a flat tire. At this point, let me give you a brief description of Jon. He is a mild-mannered man who has spent time living abroad. Jon does not yell and when he speaks you can tell a lot of thought goes into what he says. In short, Jon is a good man who you would want to spend some time around.

Back to our conversation. We were discussing his time living in Korea and he mentioned the respect people have for each other there. He also noted something I found to be of great interest. He told me it was his experience that people around the same age referred to each other as brother and sister and those older than you are spoken to with a greater degree of respect. I shared with him my knowledge of Native American culture and how others are often referred to as brother and sister as well. I also told him how elders are called grandmother and grandfather. They are also held in high regard because of all they have lived and been through. I wrote about the importance of older people and the wisdom and experience they contain in an earlier post, but it bears repeating. Those wonderful souls are living treasures that will be lost with their passing. To treat them with anything less than respect is a disgrace.

As we continued to muse and discuss the subject, we both came to the conclusion that there is a correlation with how you view and address people and the amount of respect you have for them. After all, unless your name happens to be Cain, you would not likely wish to kill your brother. If we go back far enough we are more than likely related in some form or fashion. Even if not related genetically, we can be brothers and sisters ideologically. Even if we differ slightly in some regards we are all striving for the best life we can have for ourselves and for the ones we love.

Keeping this knowledge in mind, let us look for what we have in common instead of what divides us and we will find we are all brothers and sisters in some way. Jon, for example, is my brother in that we both have the same struggles and experiences working for the United States Postal Service. That can be said of my friends Chris, Laura, Christine, John, Don, Raul, Beth, Julie and many others I know. I have brothers and sisters who have the unique understanding of the bartending arena. Lisa, Matty, Dylan, Ashley, Jenny, Autumn, Emily, Rebecca, Audra, Alysa and more. Then there are my brothers and sisters in the literary field. Ursula, Aura, Stefanie, Cari, Andrada, Kelly and more. Margie is even my sister in that she is a creative entrepreneur. Although calling each other brother and sister would be a bit awkward. I have a brother in my friend Russ as we have been through so much and have a lot of love and respect for each other. Which brings me to my sister Michelle, an amazing lady who is the best sister a guy could have!

You see all of these people, with one exception, are not actually related to me. I do view them all with a feeling of Kinship beyond what I would refer to a friend. Next time you find yourself walking into a coffee shop or fast food place think of the person behind the counter as your brother or sister in working with the public. We all know the struggles that can be. When someone cuts you off in traffic, know they are your brother and sister in trying to get home to their family or maybe to work on time. That is not to say that brothers and sisters won’t make you angry or you may not agree sometimes, but that does not make them any less your brother or sister.

Feel free to recognize people you would be proud to call brother and sister in the comments below.


A DAILY PICK ME UP

My latest YouTube video that discusses how I manage to wake up with energy working 6 jobs. You can use the 2 words I use to wake up ready to face the day no matter how many jobs you have!

If you enjoy this video, don’t forget to give it a ‘thumbs up ‘. If you would like to see these videos before anyone else, make sure to subscribe to my channel. If you have any feedback feel free to leave it in the comments.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH 99 SECONDS WITH NEIL EPISODE 15

A DAILY PICK-ME-UP

How many times do we find ourselves grasping to hit the snooze button one more time in hopes for a few more minutes of blissful slumber? I can’t count the cold Wisconsin winter days I ask myself why I am leaving a warm bed and a hot lady to face the prospect of another day at work. Even while typing these words and reflecting upon these events I felt my energy start to drain.

How can we make sure we wake up ready to face the day? Two words – passion and purpose. Being involved in something that stirs your heart and engages your mind will give you much more motivation than even your favorite cup of Jamaican blue mountain coffee. If you don’t want to shell out the money for such amazing coffee then you are going to have to take my word for this.

If you find yourself about to tell me via your computer or cell phone screen that your job is not what your passionate about, let me assure you I understand. Working for the United States postal service does not exactly give me butterflies.

So what then? Pursue your passion on the side. In today’s busy and stressful world this may seem like another thing you don’t have time for. The ironic thing is that adding a hobby or side business that speaks to our passions will reduce the stress of our day job and give us something to look forward to every day.

A great law of physics that i make use of is as follows

Your mind and body do not have to occupy the same space at the same time.

Certainly there are exceptions. If you are a surgeon about to operate on me I would appreciate if all parties were working together. For most of us, however our minds are free to roam as our bodies are busy ‘working for the man ‘. While giving my best physical effort at the post office my mind is often looking for or pondering material for this website, my next book or my next YouTube video. Ok, sometimes my mind is also on a beach drinking out of a coconut, but I digress.

Whether your passion is creating material to help individuals become the best versions of themselves or it is drawing pictures of your dog, begin exploring that passion today. It will provide you a positive reason to get out of bed, fill you with more energy than caffeine and make the stress of the workday easier to handle.

I would love to hear some of your passions and how you work them into your daily routine to stay inspired.