I love Mac Anderson’s and BJ Gallagher’s new book, Learning to Dance in the Rain: The Power of Gratitude. They say, “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…..it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” In these tough economic times there is certainly a lot of rain, so I think we are going to have plenty of chances to dance before the storm passes. There is also a wonderful quote by Nancy J. Carmody: “I am thankful for lawns that need mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home……….I’m thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.” My feeling is it is hard to get through tough times if you don’t appreciate the good times.
Another great book to read during these time is Spencer Johnson’s Peaks and Valleys. He makes a clear point that peaks are not forever and neither are valleys. When we are experiencing a peak we need to prepare for when that might end. When we are in a valley it is a great time to build up strength so we can prepare for the next peak. Life is a very special occasion with its peaks and valleys.
Norman Vincent Peale said, “We have a choice every morning when we get up. We can feel good about ourselves, or we can feel bad.” The choice seems obvious to me. Good on you all.
You know, in these tough economic times, I’ve been thinking about what’s the best financial advice I’ve heard. I was once talking with the great financial advisor Sir John Templeton. Somebody asked him about the best financial advice he had ever given anybody, and he said, “Tithing.” He said, “I’ve never known anybody who has tithed (given away) at least ten percent of their income to good causes who didn’t have it coming back tenfold. Just reaching out and helping others brings that energy back to you.” And I firmly believe that. Templeton said, “Don’t wait until you have a lot of money. Reach out and help somebody now.” I think we all know people who are hurting, and maybe you could do something special for them—maybe even pay the rent for them or get them some meals or do something like that. Tithing is not necessarily giving to a church. It’s really the whole process of sharing what you have with others. I know some people are pretty tight at this time financially and all. But you know, my belief is that this is the time—maybe more than ever—to really reach out and see if you can help somebody else. I love the whole concept that we’ve talked about, “Each One Help One.”
Margie and I wrote a wonderful book with Dee Edington years ago called The One Minute Manager Gets Fit. And then we reissued it as The One Minute Manager Balances Life and Work. The whole concept was that we need to take care of our health. We need to take care of our bodies. We had a wonderful little saying in there about how, early in life, you give up your health to gain wealth—in other words, we work hard. We want to accomplish goals. We want to take care of our families and all, and we don’t exercise, and we overeat, and we drink too much, and all. And then later in life—you know, health costs at the end of people’s lives are amazing—people give up their wealth to regain their health. They’re trying to patch things up and all that. So one of the things I’ve really decided is that we have a lot of good wellness activities in the company and I really want to start getting involved in those. We have our room where we can go on the treadmill and exercise and things like that, and I’m sure your company is the same way. We really need to take care of ourselves—particularly in these tough times. You need to think about your health and what you can do to take care of it.
So my thought today is to take a look in the mirror and be honest with yourself—are you eating right? Are you drinking right? Are you exercising? Are you taking care of yourself? Because you owe it not only to yourself, but to your family and to your company.
You know, I was thinking the other day about how in the news they are saying that we’ve got this problem and that problem… I’ll never forget when I worked with Norman Vincent Peale and he told this story. He was walking down the street one day and he saw his old friend, George. He said to George, “How are you doing?” Norman said he meant it as a casual greeting, but George took it as an opportunity. Twenty minutes later, Norman said, George dropped his last problem at Norman’s feet. Then George said, “Norman, it’s problems, problems, problems. If you could only solve all my problems, I would write a check right this moment for $5,000 for your church.”
Norman said he could never turn down such an opportunity and a challenge, so he meditated and cogitated and agitated. Then he said, “George, I was just at an organization yesterday where no one there has a problem. Would you like to go there?” And George said, “Absolutely! That’s where I want to be, Norman.” And Norman said, “Well good, George, tomorrow we’ll go to Woodlawn Cemetery. Because people who are dead don’t have problems.” Norman always said that if you don’t have any problems, race home, run into the house, run into the bedroom, get on your knees, and say, “Good Lord, send me some problems! What’s going on? Don’t you like me anymore?”
So you know, there’s always a different perspective on things. And remember, problems are a way of life, and if we hang in there together, maybe we can solve them.
In the last couple of weeks at our company, we’ve had our own special March Madness going on down on the basketball court at lunchtime. Next week, we’re going to start to get into the semifinals of this great tournament. One of the things I was thinking about was how, in basketball, the team that really wins is the one where all the players are really contributing. One star can’t be enough, and we saw that even in our own games. When there were two people who were both playing well, they tended to win. If you depend on one person, you can’t win. It applies to basketball and everything in life. I remember when Michael Jordan was the big star in Chicago. They never really got winning when it was just Michael scoring 30 or 40 points, but then he got some other teammates who contributed and made a difference. We need everyone to contribute. This is the way it is as we work together through this tough economic time. It’s not going to do us any good if a few people are putting in 150 or 200 percent and other people are only giving 60 or 70 percent. We need everybody giving 100 percent if we’re all going to really be a winning team in this effort.
I was talking to a friend who is in the automobile industry through advertising, and they are a big user of Gung Ho! with us. They have shared with their customers the whole Gung Ho! framework and he thinks it’s a perfect message as we manage through these tough times. It’s really interesting if you look at it:
The Spirit of the Squirrel is about worthwhile work, and the first thing that all of us have to recognize is that what we do is really important. We make a difference with our clients. Those who can’t work with us are really sad because they recognize what we do.
The Way of the Beaver is to be in control of achieving the goals. One of the things that we need to do in our organization, and every organization, is that everybody has to take responsibility for asking, “How can we help? Who can I help? What can we do?” The Way of the Beaver has got to be an operation.
And the last one, which is what we all ought to be doing with each other, is The Gift of the Goose, which is to cheer each other on and applaud each other and catch each other doing things right.
Let’s keep on pulling together and knowing that no matter what happens, we can get through tough times because we’ve done it before.