Sunday, October 28, 2012

Presence vs. Presents

Presence vs. Presents

We’re obsessed with giving and receiving presents, in our society.  Birthdays, holidays, significant milestones, etc.  We have so many opportunities (or obligations, depending on our outlook at the time) for presents. 
Recently I was asked to name the “best birthday present I have ever received.”  As I thought about my answer to this question, I had trouble choosing that one “best present” I have ever received. 
This struck me as odd and a bit unusual, considering I’ve been blessed with 33 birthdays, and I’ve received presents for each one of them…yet I couldn’t really think of any one present that I would call, “the best present”.
What immediately came to mind were birthday parties my family held for my sister and me, at our house when we were very young.  My birthday is August 16th and my sister’s is August 5th, and that meant that every year we would celebrate our birthdays together. 
I remember those parties like they were just yesterday.  Aunts, Uncles, cousins, both sets of grandparents, our great-grandmother, and of course my mom, dad, and sister were all there.  We opened many, many presents, but what I remember…over 20 years later…is the presence of family.   

Sure the attention may have been on my sister and me, because it was our birthday, but beyond that, I have a crystal clear memory of family members engaged in conversation, laughing, and enjoying each other.  

The presents were cool and fun, but the fact that everyone was there, together, made me happy. 
What about in our relationships at work, in the community, or perhaps even with our own family members at home?  We often go through the motions here and there…but are we really “there” or “here” for them?   

They’re talking, sharing, and reaching out to us…but are we really listening?  Are we present? 
So often we’re consumed with our own troubles, worries, doubts, To Do’s, and “stuff”.  We shop around, buying presents for family members, staff, teammates, leaders, etc…we forget that what may very well mean the most to them is our presence, not the presents.  
Be present, in the now…today…and the OneMoreStep that can make a positive difference for people is our conscientious presence in the conversation… 

Right now…with a genuine interest in them, their concerns, their issues, their needs, and their situation…and asking how we can help.
Have a great day.

Two for the road...

I follow Andy Stanley, Lead Pastor at Northpoint Church in Atlanta.  Back in August, he did a six part series on family, entitled, Future Family.  Andy is a great teacher, excellent pastor, and his messages are both educational and touching.  I love them, follow them, watch them, and rewatch them frequently.  

If interested, we wanted to share this series with you, as it fits perfectly well with this topic of "presence of family" and asking "how can I help".


And speaking of birthdays, Happy Birthday to my dear old Dad...celebrating one more trip around the sun, tomorrow, Oct. 29th.  Thanks for teaching me, coaching me, supporting me, inspiring me, loving me, and encouraging me.  Your presence then and now, keeps me going OneMoreStep every single day...Happy Birthday!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Moving Day

Moving Day
Have you ever had to move?  New job? New city? New friends? New life?
The very thought of “moving” anything in our daily routines to which we’ve become accustomed…comfortable, in-control, and satisfied…is stressful. 
For “moving” suggests change, and change is scary.  Why?  Because with change comes many unknowns.
The very definition of the word move is:
1.   move/mo͞ov/
Go in a specified direction or manner; change position.

Operative word - change.
Change, unknowns, and fear...  It’s no different than a child, when they’re scared of the dark, the roller coaster, the storm, or the first day of school.  They’re scared, because of the change.  Something different is before them, and they’ve never had to deal with it before.  It’s unknown.
When children are scared, what do we do?  We comfort them.  We guide them.  We direct them. We care for them.  We love them.  Maybe not at first, but once they let go of their own fear of these unknowns, and let us take over…they calm down.  They stop crying.  They stop worrying.  Their fear subsides because they know they’re protected.  They’re safe.
Whatever unknowns exist for you and me, today; whether our moving day consists of changing jobs, changing cities, changing career goals, changing relationship dynamics with loved ones, or changing anything at all…we should let go.  Let go and let a higher power take over.  If not the same God I love and serve, then let go and put your faith, trust, and hope into something bigger, something more powerful, something better…to take the reins.  You and I simply can’t do it alone. 
For me, it’s in fact not a ‘something’, it’s a person.  I’m a Christian; a Christ follower and a believer, and He saves me and comforts me and guides me and I know and believe that “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
For you, it may be another religion or another belief system that guides you.  Believe in it.  Focus on it.  And let it truly be your guide.
The message is that no matter what we face in our lives – and we’re all facing somethingeverybody has stuff – we can’t do it alone.  We can’t figure it out by ourselves.  We can’t possibly know every move to make and when and how and why…we must let go and let a higher power take over. 
When we do…when we let go and let God…when we give up the need for control and this paralyzing need to magically know all the unknowns…we’ll be ever so blessed with the grace, comfort, guidance, and unconditional love of something greater…something better, in our lives.
And when we do…that will be a very, very moving day.  It doesn’t have to be someday down the road either…it can be today.  Today can be the day…every day can be a moving day, if we trust and let go.   2 Corinthians 5:7 – “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
One for the road…
This week two of my very best friends, Matt Olsen and Sonny Ritacca are in fact, moving. 

Matt is moving back to Florida, to Jacksonville, having recently been promoted at work.  Sonny is moving into a new house that he recently purchased in Southern California (obviously also doing very well, at work).  Both are facing so many unknowns.  They’re nervous.  They’re worried.  They’re moving…and their lives are changing.
I’m so proud of them both.  This will not be the first “move” for either of them.  In fact, if our group of closely-knit friends has become experts in anything in recent years, it’s certainly moving.
Matt moved from Orlando to California, back to Orlando, then to Atlanta, then back to Orlando, then to Fayetteville, North Carolina…now back to Jacksonville, FL. 
Sonny moved from Chicago to Orlando, then to Tampa, then back to Chicago, changed jobs twice, pursued and earned an MBA at Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business, then moved to California, and now will move yet again into his new home. 
Things haven’t always gone their way.  Situations haven’t always been perfect.  They each just kept pursuing something better…they each kept focusing on getting better…they each pressed on, making other people around them better…including me. 
People often ask me how in the world I’m best friends with people that are so different than me.  I see what they see, on the surface, in passing…however, I laugh to myself every time.  I know that on the inside, deep down, that our relationship and friendship is anchored in love, respect, and care for each other. 
When we all met on internships at Walt Disney World, it was about having fun, yet remaining focused and steadfast in pursuing our dreams…and enjoying our time, together.  Today, it’s funny…because it’s still about having fun and pursuing our dreams…and we’re still connected by the love, respect, and care for each other. 
When I first met Sonny’s dad, we spent the weekend hanging out with the Ritacca family.  On the day he left town, Mr. Ritacca shook my hand, gave me a hug, and said, “take care of each other”. That was in the Fall of 2001.  I’ve visited with him several times since then, and he always says the exact same thing as we part ways at the end of a trip.
Sonny’s dad should be proud, because here we are…12 years later, still taking care of each other.  And it’s usually Sonny that makes the first move…(every morning at 5-something AM…yes…every morning, I get a “good morning” text from Sonny.)  In his dialogue with me, more often than not, he shares a quick story or two about what he's doing to take care of his team, his leaders, and/or his company.  He certainly has many blessings in his life, yet he continues to be a blessing to others.  That's moving.
A couple of years ago both Matt and I were having a rough time finding a job…like many Americans, in 2009 & 2010, we endured several months of unemployment, yet we're in a much better place now.  At the time, Matt was gracious enough to invite me to move back in with him, in his house in Orlando while we both looked for jobs…(and played golf, went to the pool, then played wii golf in his living room…it wasn’t all that bad, looking back on it.)  Matt was blessed to have a nice home in a great place, and though things in his own life were rocky, he was a true blessing to me during that time in my life.  That's moving.
It was then that every Sunday after church I started tweeting him, “If God is for us, who could be against us.” – Romans 8:31.  Neither of us had a clue as to how or when we would find work…when we realized it wasn’t up to us, but instead it was up to someone else, we both had moving days
Eventually I got a job…and he got a job.  We both moved.  And we were moved in the process…to this day, not a Sunday goes by that I don’t send Matt that same verse that moved us then and continues to move us today.
I tell these stories because I’ve watched and stood by my two dear friends, Matt & Sonny, when they were up, high on life…and when they’ve been down, navigating the inevitable valleys in their lives.  And they’ve been right there for me, every step of the way as well.  I’ve noticed a couple things about the moves they’ve made in their lives. 
The first thing is that their success is always preceded by their relentless focus on other people…
for Matt, it’s his diligence in serving his leaders and his clients, pursuing excellence in how he caters to their every need, in his role as the Director of Licensing for an apparel company.  For Sonny, it’s his devotion and compassion for the members of his team, and his ability to serve them, lead them, and develop them…as he heads up the Sales efforts on the west coast for his company.
The second thing is that they both recognize and appreciate the blessings in their lives…and they leverage them to turn around and bless others…
that is moving…
Good luck to Matt & Sonny as they move this week…I’m proud of your success, but I’m mostly proud of how you use your blessings to continue to bless others, including yours truly.  I know you'll be a blessing to those in your new communities.
Thanks for allowing the OneMoreStepRevolution Team to use your moving day to hopefully inspire someone else’s.
Have a great day.

OneMoreStep video, for fun...

Two years ago, to the day, when I moved from Orlando to back to Las Vegas, finally finding a job...Matt rode/drove across the country with me, in a U-Haul with the Black Pearl (my car) on a trailer hitched to the back of the truck.

We made it to Scottsdale, got lost, and had a little fun as usual:


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Most People...

Most People…
Be this little fella
Most people don’t care about anyone’s problems but his or her own.
Most people don’t listen.
Most people pass the buck.
Most people do the minimum.
Most people play it safe.
Most people give up.
Most people don’t bounce back or fight through adversity.
Most people don’t finish strong.
I often wonder what most people think about me and how I make them feel.  Do you? 
Consider…how our Guests or our clients or our customers or our friends or our family members feel about us?
When we care, listen, take ownership, do more, take risks, refuse to give up, fight through adversity, and finish strong…we’re different than most people.
That difference matters; though most people may not show their appreciation, they value it nonetheless.
And usually the difference between adding to or taking away from the experience of most people in our lives is One…More…Step…
Go OneMoreStep.  Be different.  It matters.
Have a great day.

One for the road…
The most important, most expensive, most valuable, most meaningful, most resourceful, and most dynamic part of any team, family, organization, company, or community is its people. 
Therefore, we should focus on people the most!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fourth Quarter

Fourth Quarter

It’s now October.  So we’re basically finished with this year.  2012 is all but in the history books…so we might as well mail it in, start our holiday shopping, and start conjuring up our New Year’s resolution for 2013…
Not so fast.  It may be late in the game, but there’s still time on the clock.  There are still 2012 days left on the calendar…roughly 90 of them.  That means there’s still time to make an impact, make a difference, make progress, and maybe even change something, someone, or ourselves for the better…maybe even for good!
I remember our high school football team, growing up…as soon as the whistle blew at the conclusion of the third quarter, every player on the field – those on the sidelines and those in the game – every cheerleader, every fan, and every person in Raider Nation would hold up four fingers.  Everyone would throw up four fingers, high above their head…to signify that it was now the FOURTH QUARTER, as if to say – We’re not giving up, we’re not losing faith, we’re giving it our all, as long as there’s time on the clock, we’ll finish strong, in the fourth quarter.
In basketball practice, growing up, my coaches toward the end of practice, while putting us through extensive drills and/or strength and conditioning workouts, would say, “FOURTH QUARTER”, as if to say, in preparation for real life game situations – I know you’re tired…I know it’s been a long day, a long practice, a long three quarters…but there’s still time on the clock, and the fourth quarter just could be where we make our move…when everyone else gives up, when everyone else submits to their weaknesses, if we can dig deep, reach down, stick together, and go OneMoreStep – mentally and physically – this could be our time to make our move…in the fourth quarter.
So for you and I, today…this could be our moment.  This could be our time.  Right now, with an entire quarter left to make our mark, to make our numbers, or to reconcile that friendship, relationship, or partnership that could potentially make all the difference for 2012.  We can make it happen in the fourth quarter.
No matter how rough, or challenging 2012 has been thus far, for three quarters, you and I have the opportunity to make a difference, a very positive difference, in this the final 90 days – the fourth quarter.  All we have to do is decide to do so.
If it’s been rough at work, and you think it’s a lost cause to continue putting forth so much effort, think again…think differently about it.  Keep being you in the Fourth Quarter, because you never know who’s watching, who’s listening, and who’s secretly loving, appreciating, and valuing your efforts. 
Discouraged? For so long, you’ve dreamed of that next opportunity, the girl, the guy, the life you’ve always wanted…and 2012 hasn’t gone your way at all?  Dream again…dream your dreams, look up, and don’t give up just yet.  Many a fight, many a battle, many a game, and many accomplishments have been won in the fourth quarter.  It just takes courage, faith, and hope…to stay the course. 
So whatever weighs heavily on your hearts and minds today, in the boardroom, the break room, or the living room...I know it’s been a long three quarters, and 2012 has been up and down…the Fourth Quarter could be when it all turns around, for the better.
There’s still time on the clock, and there are still days left on the calendar for 2012.  Finish Strong…encouraging someone, helping someone, lifting the spirits of coworkers, family members, loved ones, students, friends, Guests, Clients, and Customers…
How will we remember 2012 – A good year?  A bad year?  How we approach the Fourth Quarter can make all the difference, in the answer to this question…
Throw four fingers up, high above your head…and finish 2012 strong in the fourth quarter.
Have a great day.