Choose your attitude – don’t kick the cat

Don't kick the catWent to the store today. When I came back to my van, I found a note on my windshield.

It said

You will go TO HELL if you park so close to me ever again

Despite the obvious pun on my license plate “I WILL GO” (ironically based on a Christian worship song), the anger in the note was palpable. [More ironically, it was written on note paper from the Humane Society!]

As I walked the note to the trash can, I started seething. How dare anyone write a note like that! Especially when I was right in the center of the painted lines of my spot! I wasn’t sure who’d put the note there, but I started trying to figure out who was to blame.

Then I remembered Zig Ziglar’s story about kicking the cat. You see I grew up listening to Zig. And he had a great story that went something like this:

A man is angry because he got a late start for the office so he drives like a maniac and cuts off Frank. This ticks Frank off so when he gets to his office, he snaps at his assistant about a report at that is late. His assistant is now upset that the person responsible for the report, Joe, is making her look bad to her boss so when she calls Joe, she takes out her anger on him. Joe gets the report but is upset all day. He’s still upset when he gets home. His cat, who’s has nothing to do with Joe’s day, bumps the door and Joe, in his anger, ends up kicking the cat.

Don’t Kick the Cat

The cat had nothing to do with Joe’s bad day, or the assistant’s stress, or Frank’s being upset, or the first guys getting a late start to the day. But the cat takes the brunt of that frustration.

Zig’s point was that at any point in the chain of events each of the people had a choice over their attitude. They could choose to react in kind, or respond more positively.

Each of us have the choice to not kick the cat. To not pass on the negative crap we get by hanging around people like us.

Obviously this lady was having a rough day. I’ve never received a note like that. Think of the effort involved in finding the Human Society note pad, finding my license plate, and hand writing such a venomous note. She must’ve been fit to be tied.

And really…it had nothing to do with me.

Sure, it was wrong. But did my kids really need me to lash out at them as I’d been lashed out at? Obviously not.

So I tried making up a story in order to fight of the anger that kept trying to get me. I decided it was the woman who’d parked into my space and went into the cell phone store. I know how frustrating that can be. And I tried imagining what happened to her on the way to the store and why those people did what they’d done.

Because, her anger really had nothing to do with me. And I didn’t want to kick the cat.

Are you enjoying your hamburger?

Are you enjoying your burger?

Let me tell you about a dream I had last night.

I wanted to get a burger at 5 Guys. I’ve never had one from there and a new 5 Guys had opened up in our city.

When I went there, it was packed. The line wasn’t out the door, but it might as well have been. I don’t like lines like that. They get stressful and people often get mean. So I started strategizing.

I decided to step outside, call in my order from my cellphone, and relax while it was being prepared.

The problem was…I didn’t have my cellphone. I wracked my brain to figure out where I left it. I also tried figuring out who I knew that would let me use their office phone to make the call.

As I was looking up to get the 5 Guys number off the sign, I realized I already had a burger. And I’d eaten half of it!

I’d been so focused on the seeking, that I hadn’t even realized I’d been munching on my burger. Somewhere along the way, I’d accomplished my goal. But I had such tunnel-vision, I missed it.

Sometimes success isn’t about the journey

I blogged about the fundraising implications of this dream over at FundraisingCoach.com. But I really think this dream is about life.

It got me wondering: am I so focused on building my business and helping others that I am not realizing I already have achieved some of my goals.

Self-employment is amazing. The most exhilarating thing I’ve done, and the scariest. There’s no HR office to work with, no regular paychecks, no planned vacation days. Nothing happens financially unless I start it.

It’s easy to get so focused on building the business that I forget how much has been accomplished. I get so focused on getting the hamburger, I fail to see the one in my hand. And if I do recognize it, I’m too busy worried about where the next hamburger will come from to enjoy the one I have.

They say that success is a journey, not a destination. But sometimes it is a destination…at least a rest stop on the journey.

An invitation

I think this dream was an invitation for me. An invitation to enjoy what I have, savor it, cherish it. Family, friends, things, all of it.

I don’t have any formula for this recognizing and enjoying these rest stops. But I think that knowing they exist will help. It’s like GI Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle!”

How about you? How do you recognize and enjoy your accomplishments?

I love homeschooled kids

It’s a snow day here in Maine. But my kids are plowing through school work. Even the one in public school is doing homeschool work.

I love homeschooled kids.

I have an appreciation for public schooling. We need as many people educated as possible. And I was really good at it, high honors and all that. But one of the things I learned from the classroom was that there was little reward for completing work. I still had to sit there. And people that didn’t complete their work didn’t really have any consequences.

One of the things I learned from the way school was set up (public and private) was the importance of warming a seat. Attendance was half of the battle. And the kids that didn’t act up or cause trouble were the “good kids.”

But homeschooled kids are not only learning the same subjects, they’re learning the importance of work. The system is different. There is a freedom to choose what to work on. And the reward of being able to be done when the work is done.

When I was in New Zealand with my 8 year old daughter, she always started her day doing her math work. It wasn’t her favorite, but she knew if she did it first, she would be done with it for the day.

It strikes me that this is so important with life too. There are increasingly few jobs that reward people for simply warming a seat. Today, people need to know how to work. They need to know what constitutes accomplishing a task and how to manage their own workflow.

As an entrepreneur, I get paid for work I do, not the time I take to do it. Home schooling creates a structure that teaches this by it’s very nature.

Just like my kids are doing today.

It’s dark, but you don’t see the whole picture

Public Doman: NASA 2003Today is the winter solstice here in Maine. The shortest day of the year.

For those not inclined to see the glass half-full, it’s also the darkest day of the year.

But in the Southern Hemisphere, in places like New Zealand, today is the longest day of the year. The day with the most sunlight.

I love that! It helps me remember that even if things look really dark for me, I’m simply not seeing the whole picture.

And as my wife reminded me, the winter solstice has always been celebrating that the light does return. The darkness doesn’t triumph.

No wonder the Church chose to celebrate Christmas on the winter solstice. The Light will return to triumph over darkness.

May you experience that Light this Christmas. And may you have a hope-filled 2011.

501 Mission Place Launches


I opened my email this morning to see this update in a Human Business Works note from Chris Brogan:

501 Mission Place Launches

Hi Marc —

I am so excited to report that 501 Mission Place, our HBW community to help nonprofits and charities grow, is launched! If you run a nonprofit or charity project or know someone who does, this community and learning experience was built for them. Our goal is to help people grow their capabilities in this tough economic time, when giving is drying up exactly at the same moment that people need it.

501 Mission Place started as a conversation between Rob Hatch and me. Over the summer, we went on vacation together, brought Jon Swanson and Marc Pitman along, and by the end of it, we had a lot of ideas how we could help charities do more with less. We then needed a leader to facilitate the experience. Estrella Rosenberg who runs many nonprofits including Big Love Little Hearts for congenital heart defects, was the obvious person for the role. And we added also John Haydon, a smart guy with a lot of feet-on-the-ground experience of his own.

The result is 501 Mission Place, an educational community dedicated to equipping nonprofits and charities for success.

Because this benefits the nonprofit sector, we’ve done everything we can to keep costs down. The monthly subscription rate is just a low $27 USD, about the price of a hardcover book. Annually, that’s a little bit less than the ticket cost of a conference (and you don’t have to pay airfare or hotel fees).

Our hope is that you’ll pass this on to any nonprofit or charity people you know, as they might not already be subscribed to the HBW mailing list, and if you would, we’d be grateful. We think that 501 Mission Place will be very useful to people.

As always, thank you for all that you do. I’ll have more personal development and business growth thoughts shortly.

-Chris…

I am so excited! I’ve been working with the team on this for months. Together, we’re going to help nonprofit people do amazing things!

I’ll blog more about this later (probably at FundraisingCoach.com. I’m about to get on a coaching call with a very cool client. But I’m so excited I wanted to let the world know!

My vote doesn’t really count anyway…

Vote Today!This is another saying I’ve been hearing a lot lately. “Why should I vote? It doesn’t really count anyway.” “My vote won’t sway an election. Why bother?”

I try to be polite. And I do empathize with the helpless feeling. It’s really easy to feel insignificant in the face of the mess we’re facing as a state and country.

But individuals do matter.

Beyond the hanging chads of 2000. Beyond a Maine governor’s race that could be much closer than anyone anticipated. And beyond the casino vote that, it looks like, will be decided by just a few votes today. More and more elections seem to be coming down to a few votes.

But even beyond that, individuals to matter.

Everything you use today was created by an individual doing their job. Whether that job was inventing the combustion engine or inserting a screw on the toaster or pulling coffee beans off a tree.

Each of those unnamed individuals matter. They made a difference in your life, didn’t they?

Whatever your stance on issues, please don’t take the privilege of voting lightly. People have fought and died so we could vote today.

People are fighting and dying still.

So please, take another sip of coffee and then get out there and vote.

I’d vote for Eliot Cutler but…

I’ve been speaking to lots of people asking me if I think Cutler really has a chance of winning Maine’s gubernatorial race. You see, they don’t want to “throw their vote away.”

Today, I’m glad to say that it looks like Cutler isn’t the spoiler in the race. According to Colin Woodward:

“Recent polls suggest it is Mitchell who has become the real spoiler. The Critical Insights poll released last night confirms the trend: Cutler has doubled his support base to pull into a dead heat with Mitchell, who has been hemorrhaging support since the primaries.”

Throughout the primaries, people always came up to me and said, “I like Peter Mills but I’m not sure he has a chance of winning.” If each of these people had voted for Peter, we may have had a different Republican nominee.

Let’s not make that mistake with Eliot Cutler.

Yes, being an independent is hard, especially when there are two other independents siphoning votes away. And when you have money rich lobbyists like the Republican Governors’ Association and special interests like the Maine Education Association working against you.

But we’re Mainers. We’re independent. And we don’t need out of state people or special interest groups telling us how to vote.

If like me, you think Eliot Cutler is the right man for the job, vote for him. Vote now at your town office or vote on November 2. You really don’t have to settle for a party nominee this election.

But you will if you don’t vote.