Selected Life Lesson
Always learn from your mistakes.
-Jamilah W’s Life Lesson from the Olathe, Kansas
Today is my half-birthday! There are now only 530 days until I reach 30. Last weekend was my 10-year high school reunion and I hated not being able to be there with my old classmates. But as I celebrate 28 1/2, this lesson is a great reminder of something I take to heart: I am never to stop learning.
So much has happened in the ten years since I graduated from high school (and subsequently ran for office). But what never ends is my learning. I’ve made countless mistakes and it would take years of FOCUS emails to list them all, but I am happy to say I am always trying to learn from them. The great tragedy and blessing of life is that while we don’t get to undo anything we did, we can and must learn from each life experience.
So, as I begin the last half of 28, join me on this journey of reflection and learning. You’ll be amazed how much better of a person, friend, partner you can become if you just sit, and listen. Oh, and forward this to a friend because we can all learn from each other. I know I have.
Engaging & Retaining The Nonprofit Workforce
October 7-9, 2012
FOCUS: The Other F-Word (Oct. 8th)
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It must be said that I love good writing. I don’t think that comes as any surprise, as I love writing myself and I love reading the works of others. More importantly though is that I love to be moved by words. Perhaps that is why I got into the story telling business in the first place.
Some of my English-teacher friends have their favorite authors and novelists, but I don’t. It’s a weird characteristic for a writer to not possess: a loyalty to a specific author. Don’t get me wrong, I used to love Mary Higgins Clark and still love Stephen Ambrose. And I love a good fiction or non-fiction book.
I am however loyal to one writer: Aaron Sorkin. The man just knows how to get me fired up with his well-crafted prose. If you were a fan of the West Wing, I highly suggest checking out his new HBO show, News Room.
You Have to Fight for Your Passion
For Sorkin, he has had to battle his own demons to get to where he is today. I didn’t know it until a few weeks ago, but he had a problem with some pretty hard drugs early in his West Wing days, but has been clean for 11 years.
But passions are like that. We have to fight for them. We have to hold on to them even when the world is doing everything in it’s power to take them away. Otherwise we lose a piece of our collective soul. And you will lose a part of who you are as a person.
The Never-Ending Question
What is your passion? Passions are one of the things I speak about often, especially in my FOCUS workshops that I have become known for.
But what good is a passion if it don’t do something about it?
I know all too well.
You see, the only reason I have the speaking opportunities I have today are because of two very conscious choices I’ve made in the past 12 years. The first was in the year 2000.
My Pop Cultures teacher at the time suggested I join the high school speech team. It sounded like a geeky thing to join, but I also knew I had a unique skill at giving speeches. So I signed up and four months later, I had an Iowa All-State Speech medal to show for it.
Then, nearly seven years later, I wanted to get into professional speaking, but I was waiting for the phone to ring. But it never did. Finally, my friend Nathanael called me out, telling me to go chase the dream and not wait for it.
So I did. And here I am.
You Have to Live
Acting on your passions helps you come alive. It gives you something to shoot for, go after, dream about and fail for.
“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”
-Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch
At the end of the day, at the end of a week, a month and your life, it is going to be the things you tried to do that you’ll remember. Sure, I ran a marathon and I crossed the finish line. But i will remember the hours of training and reading and prepping more than the race itself.
Be the person you want to be. Reach for the stars. Be passionate. And never quit.
Selected Life Lesson
Anything is possible, no matter what the age.
-Mary B’s Life Lesson from the Beyond Rubies Conference
We are powerful beyond our measure … no matter how young or old we are. That was no more apparent to me than at an event I volunteered at two weeks ago on Pier 60 here in New York City. It was with The Trevor Project, an organization that is near and dear to my heart. “Trevor Live” is an annual event to celebrate all the advocates and pioneers in the area of LGBTQ inclusion and safety.
And while listening to the band fun. perform and Susan Sarandon speak, it was the Colin Higgins Youth Courage Award recipients that took my breath away. They were, and are just kids, and they are changing the world for the better.
It was an honor to be there that night and serve the greater good. And Mary’s lesson is poignant on this, the day after the American Independence Day. Anything really is possible. It is never too late to change your life and the lives of others. Let’s get moving.
“We are working in a world full of porcupines.”
This is true. It’s been more than two months since I was let go from my job, and a lot has happened since then. I’ve written a few articles that are about to be published in national magazines and trade publications. I have run a freaking marathon.
And something I have always known, but never quite understood until this year, is there are more than enough porcupines in this world.
But better than that, I learned how to make it work. Sure, you can still get whacked and it hurts, but I can survive. And knowing that, I can keep going. And I am going.
In the past six months, I’ve also writen a short film (more on that soon!), accepted an invitation to speak at the Nonprofit Human Resources Conference in our nation’s capital and began to chase my own dreams.
There will always be porcupines, but I am choosing to be a teddy bear. I will continue to wear my heart on my sleeve and if that means I get hurt more, so be it. I like to feel. I like to live. I like to cry and I like to love.
In this world of porcupines, how do you find success?
Selected Life Lesson
Being over critical of yourself brings nothing but bad feelings.
Self-respect takes you further than you can imagine.
-Samantha P’s Life Lesson from Olathe, Kansas
Watch a child. If you don’t have one, watch one next time you’re shopping or at church or your local PTA meeting. Children just love to live. They are as alive as any human beings on the planet. Sure, the guy driving down Santa Monica Blvd. in their sports car feels alive, but are they really?
Adults can be the most critical people on the planet, and even more so of themselves. But when we are over critical of ourselves, we limit what is possible in our lives. And when we limit what is possible, we eliminate opportunity. And when we eliminate opportunity, we get stuck and we shrink from our passions.
Your task for the next seven days is to focus on only saying positive things to yourself.
You will be amazed at what becomes possible when you do.
Talking to strangers is something I have never been good at doing. Perhaps it has come from bad airline conversations or super-awkward moments on the subways here in New York City, but I usually refrain from longer than “hello” conversations with people I don’t know.
All that began to change as I took my trip to San Diego for my recent marathon. I spoke to a wonderful lady here at LaGuardia when our early morning flight was delayed. Then I spoke to a great lady on the trolly in San Diego who actually grew up and once lived in New York City. And of course, at the race itself, I was more than happy to talk with other crazies like myself.
But what did all of these interactions teach me?
It’s simple really: That positivity breads positive experiences which can in turn change the life of someone you have never met and will likely never see again.
Case In Point: I was on a date my last morning in San Diego, enjoying a coffee with a wonderful man and this woman approached us. Now that I am an NYC cynic, I expected her to ask for money. Instead, she asked, “How do I look?”
I was surprised by her question and I gave her a quick look and said, “You look good.” She then went on to explain that her was on her way to a job interview and had been crying for the past few days because her mother had just died. In that moment, I felt terrible, so I reassured her that she did in fact, look good.
We wished her well, and luck on her interview. I’d like to think she did well and perhaps we had something to do with that. In that moment, I hope she felt comfortable come up to us because we were laughing and exuding positivity on an early Tuesday morning.
Do you notice a change in the world and your environment when you are positive?
Selected Life Lesson
Never let someone derail you – always follow your passion.
-Patricia B’s Life Lesson from St. Louis, Missouri
Ever have someone belittle your dreams and ambitions? If you think long enough, I am certain someone has done that to you. The biggest one I remember is when my dad said I couldn’t run for president in the year 2020.
Perhaps in the end he will be right, but I still like to believe in possible. Why? Because I have seen it. I have run for office and almost won. I have changed from a tennis player to a marathoner. I have given keynote speeches.
When you have your passion, you are obligated to go after it and to live it. Your passion is the thing that makes you come alive above all else and to do nothing less than chase it does not do you
or your passion justice.
This two-hour classroom session, part lecture, part discussion, part reflection, is designed to mimic the first consultation of my life coaching program. Together, we’ll go through what I believe and how that pushes me forward. Then together, we will begin to dive into your life and look into what you want and the pathway there.
We might talk a bit about your past, but I’m not a therapist. I’m a liver of life and that is my sole focus. I’m not going to tell you what to do (unless you need a good smack on the head). Coaching to me is about finding ways to look forward, while understanding the past, and working together to find the answers – your solutions – and from there, designing a plan for your life. You know yourself best. My role will focus on assisting you to become aware of your thoughts, what you want and how we, together, can get you there. I can’t “fix” you. But together we can start to design the life you want through engaging, life-affirming conversations and asking each other powerful questions that can help you gain clarity in work, life and love (or wherever you desire clarity). My basic belief is that a coach gives you a neutral (and of course, confidential) sounding board and an advocate for you.
Who is this for? This is for anyone who wants to challenge themselves and live, laugh, play and dream more and have the life they really want.
What is this? This is an introductory session, as a larger part of a longer-term coaching consultation/relationship. There are no commitments after this day, but your Skillshare fee will go towards your next sessions if you sign up.
Why should you sign up? Sign up if you want to do more or re-focus your life. I’ve done it and so can you!
Questions?! Email me at Richard@RichardDedor.com