5 Lessons from “The Summer of Richard”

Sure, I involuntarily departed from my previous full-time job and sure it was depressing. But after 110 days on my own, I joined a new team here in New York City and I could not be more excited about the future.

But in what I am now calling, “The Summer of Richard,” I thought I would share some of the lessons I learned. And in case you were wondering, yes, I stole that line from Seinfeld:

1) Goals Keep us Focused. Without question, having the marathon (link) as a goal kept me moving forward. It is easy to get stagnant and frustrated and depressed without goals and targets in mind. But knowing that at the start of June I was going to be traveling to sunny San Diego to run a marathon with my family supporting me, kept me focused on the goal. And even after achieving it, that high carried me forward. Always have goals in mind.

2) Tough Moments Reveal Our True Desires. It is true. When you are down and out and frustrated, you begin to see what you really want in life. I spent the “Summer of Richard” re-developing some of my workshops, building out a new book idea and writing a short script.

3) Embrace the Opportunity. I finally had time to write. So I did and got published in RSi Magazine and PRSA Tactics. Had I not embraced the moment, that would not have happened.

4) True Friends Stay Close and Get Closer. When you are at your lowest, your closest friends and advisers get closer to you. They push you and hold you close when you need it. I will never forget my friend Kade who one day was offering his support and six weeks later, basically telling me to get off my ass and make it happen.

5) Rest. Boy, did I need the rest. It was honestly, a blessing to have the summer to myself. I needed to let my body rest, not because of the marathon, but because of life. I had been working at some level since I was 15 years old. I am now 28. I have only had one real vacation in four years. And barely take days off. I needed it.

In the end, I learned more about myself in those 110 days than I could have doing nearly anything else. I thank you all for going on the ride with me.

Here is to tomorrow!

FOCUS: Never Assume!

Selected Life Lesson
Never assume.
-Sally F’s Life Lesson from Mt. Vernon, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
We all know this lesson to be true, and yet, we all can (and do) fall victim to it. Think back on the last four days … can you think of a time you assumed something?

Perhaps you assumed that someone would put the dishes away because they were there and they were dry. Or perhaps you assumed someone would get the report to the client because they had the last time? Or perhaps you just assumed that success is inevitable just because you work hard?

Well, assuming is bad. For everyone. I try very hard to be black-and-white in my life. If I need something, I tell you. I try to make it clear to those in my life that if they need something from me, they need to also be black-and-white. I don’t have the time or energy to read minds and I am not about to assume what you do and don’t need. So, tell me, what do you need?

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I Am a Proud Conservative

I don’t talk about politics a lot here on my blog. Mostly out of choice that when I talk politics, I want it to be issue based, not emotional and if I’m sitting down to write about politics, it usually means I’m emotional about it. It has happened before with flip-flopping, social security and other issues as well.

But here is the thing: I am a conservative. I’m not registered with any party. Why? A few reasons.

  • I am not a Republican (as it is defined in today’s world).
  • I am not a Democrat.
  • I am not a Libertarian.
  • I am not a Tea Partier (even if I do love tea any day of the week).

I say it again, I am a proud conservative. Without getting into policy and alienating my readers, I believe in small government. I believe a government should do a few things really well. I mean, REALLY well.

Take Facebook for instance. They helped us build (and in some cases, re-build) our networks. The world is social and Mark Zuckerberg knew that and created a platform for us to be more social. They do that really well. Selling advertising and games, they aren’t the best.

The same goes for Microsoft. They made a great video gaming system. But they made a horrible music player.

That’s how I view government. I believe they should focus on defense, education, environment and perhaps even throw in health. Of course, we would still have the interior and the commerce and veteran’s affairs departments. But in my opinion, we don’t need many arms of government programs.

I am a staunch believer in radical reform of Social Security. Why? First of all, in it’s current form, it will not work for me. Secondly, it is a levied tax not used for government operations. It is a mandated retirement plan that I have no control over. Legal or not, I want control over my future. To me, in my conservative viewpoint, is going to be forced to put money in, I should have a say as to what happens to it.

My point in writing this political post, even though a part of me says I shouldn’t, is that I am a conservative. I don’t want labels on me or anyone, because they box us in. Signing pledges and saying you will “never raise taxes” or “never privatize social security” puts you in a no-win box.

I stand on issues, not rhetoric. And we’re going to hear a lot of rhetoric in the coming weeks. Don’t listen to it. Do your own research and be who you are.

FOCUS: Dream Big and Small!

Selected Life Lesson
Bigger isn’t always better.
-Cherie W’s Life Lesson from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
Sure the big house with three fireplaces and a pool and a butler sounds amazing! But you know what else sounds amazing? A day at the beach. A night under the stars. Curling up with a good book.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach for the stars. I want you dream big and the world needs you to! But remember, the sun is not always brighter on the other side. But when it is, all the pain, all the struggle, all the ups and downs become worth it.

We’re nearing the final quarter of the year … what do you want to go after? Now’s the time!

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Newsletter: Help Yourself

This is part of my monthly newsletter (which is free, by the way)! Sign up here to get it delivered to your mailbox each month!

Two weeks ago after a long day, I came home to relax. It was the night of my weekly date and I put together a relaxing meal and told my special someone to pick a movie. I didn’t want anything emotional or that I had to really pay attention to. I just wanted to shut off my brain.

Well, that didn’t happen. He picked, “The Help.” If you have seen the movie, then you will know what I’m talking about. If not, don’t worry as I will not give away the story.

I laughed. I cried. I got angry. All in the same movie. From a creator standpoint, the movie was incredible. From a message standpoint, it was also incredible. Why? I’ll tell you why.

Be You
One of the characters, incidentally, the main one is fighting many battles. Some of them against her family. Some of them against her community. Some of them against history. And the rest against herself.

She fights the entire movie to find out who she really is meant to be and the audience goes with her on the journey. Then she works with the other characters in the movie to help them find their own strength.

As I watched, I was reminded of my own journey to be me. Whether it is coming out, becoming a speaker and a writer, or just living my life, we all go on this journey to becoming ourselves.

Never Quit
I don’t like to quit. In fact, I hate it. And I don’t usually do it. Sure, I have no problem (after hours and days of fighting), admitting defeat. I remember one time after I had just started working out where I tried to take on too much weight on the bench press. I brought it down to my chest but couldn’t bring it back up. In defeat, I stormed off and my friends let me go. I was angry.

And I wanted to go home. But something stopped me. As I sat stretching my legs a few yards from the beach press that had tried to beat me, I remembered that I don’t defeat myself.

I stood up, angry at myself for letting the bar and the weight beat me. So, I went back. And I did it. Just once. But I did it. And in that moment, I chose to not quit. And you shouldn’t either.

No matter where you are in life or where you have been, you have the unique ability to change. Human beings have a trait – a human trait – called reason. We can think through our decisions and move forward.

In the movie, there is a mother who has a choice to make. In the heat of the moment, she falls victim to her past as well as the present societal norm; even though in her heart she knew the truth and the right action.

And that for me what the message of The Help. It’s about change. It’s about seeing an opportunity to make change and be change and never quit living for something.

I must ask you, what are you living for?

FOCUS: Wins and Losses!

Selected Life Lesson
Pick your battles and know when you walk away.
-Deb S’ Life Lesson from Minot, North Dakota

Richard’s Thoughts…
Life is hard. We all know this. But you can’t always win. No matter who you are, where you live or how much money you make. You will lose. And you will win. And you will lose again.

But once you understand and accept that you will not always win, you become stronger. When you recognize the fact that you can’t mathematically win everything; every job, every client, every sporting event, or every fight, you become a better and smarter person.

The winning doesn’t matter. It’s the path left behind and the path that remains that matters. If you can understand that and make that attitude a part of your life, you automatically win.

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FOCUS: Life’s Fairness!

Selected Life Lesson
Life isn’t always fair – make the best of what you have.
-Mary L’s Life Lesson from Marshfield, Wisconsin

Richard’s Thoughts…
This is true. Very true. In life it is all about how you react to your life events. I’ve been very public about my struggles in life, both personally and professionally.

I can make jokes now about the “Summer of Richard” but it was not the easiest three months of my life. But each day I tried to remember that every negative experience, every obstacle was and is an opportunity to grow, to learn and to become a better person.

What is a battle you’re fighting right now? What can you learn? And what do you want the outcome to be? Will it to happen … you might be surprised.

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FOCUS: Moving Forward!

Selected Life Lesson
Forgiveness is as much or more for yourself as it is for the person you are forgiving.
-Julie T’s Life Lesson from Amana, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
When you hold on to errors of your past, you systematically limit yourself. When someone does wrong to you and you hold on to their errors, you can limit your ability to fully move on. Recently, I have come to understand and see the need for me to fully forgive in my life.

I know, it is not easy. But it goes with the old adage not to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. And I promise myself I won’t. But when you do let go and truly forgive, you make yourself vulnerable again and that’s okay! Children understand this and live exciting and mistake-filled lives because they understand forgiveness and learning.

It is time we give ourselves permission to forgive and live. It is time to let it go.

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