Friday, February 15, 2013

State of the Union & a Hoops Illustration

State of the Union & a Hoops Illustration

President Obama gave his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress earlier this week.  I’ll stay on the edge, but I won’t go off the political cliff on this post, I promise.   

There’s an underlying OneMoreStep opportunity here…

The president gave his address and almost immediately thereafter, newsrooms and politicians on both sides of the aisle fired up the political debate.   

Everyone commenced, with their own spin, their own ideas, most of which pointing toward their own personal or political agendas.

WHOAH!!!!  Aren’t we all on the same team? For one cause? For one country, our country, our…Union?

I thought it was the ‘State of the Union’ address…Operative word – UNION –, which is defined as:

1) the action or fact of joining together or being joined together
2) a state of harmony or agreement

This made me think about the state of the “union” as it applies to our lives at home and at work. 
Friends, community groups, relationships, marriages, coworkers, leaders, bosses, colleagues - Are we “joined together” in “harmony”?  Or are we at odds with one another, paralyzed by differing opinions and polarized by opposing personal agendas?

Unfortunately, too often we find the supposed unions in our lives in a less than harmonious state.
The OneMoreStep opportunity, in the context of enhancing the state of our unions, at home or at work, is to spend time and energy building more community WITH each other as opposed to building a better business case AGAINST each other. 

It should be all about We, not Me.  After all, the Constitution of the United States begins with, “We the people… not “I am awesome…  

Pardon my love for basketball in this quick illustration, but hang with me here.  If nothing else it will be the only post in the blogosphere that goes from ‘State of the Union’ to ‘Michael Jordan & the Chicago Bulls.’   

It’s blogging history in the making. For those of you just joining us, Welcome Aboard…

Remember the Chicago Bulls, in the Michael Jordan era?  When MJ first got into the league, it was all about him – ’87 & ’88 Slam Dunk Champion, Michael Jordan…League’s Leading Scorer, Michael Jordan…Hot New Shoes, by Michael Jordan (I had em all. #UrWelcomeMJ).   

Jordan, Jordan, Jordan… As fans it was spectacular for us to watch, but as far as the state of their union at Chicago Stadium in the early days, it was a sad scene.
The Bulls didn’t start winning championships until it became less about Michael Jordan and ALL about the Chicago Bulls, the TEAM – Scottie Pippen, BJ Armstrong, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman, and the list of supporting cast goes on and on.

Once their state of the union was in a good place (thanks to coaches Tex Winter and Phil Jackson’s leadership), they rattled off three consecutive NBA Finals championships in ’91, ’92, and ‘93.  MJ stepped out for two years, which broke up their union, and the Bulls went two years without winning a championship. 

Michael rejoins the team in the ‘95/’96 season; they further enhance their sense of union...
Michael averaged 30 points per game that year and shot 50% from the field, which is sick.  However, in the NBA no team can win only scoring 30 points per game.   

MJ had the likes of Randy Brown, Jud Buechler, Jason Caffey, James Edwards, Jack Haley, John Salley, Dickey Simpkins, Bill Wennington, Luc Longley, Steve Kerr, Toni Kukoc, Ron Harper, Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen…all of whom combined for an average of 75 points per game. 

That Chicago Bulls TEAM, averaged a total of 105 points per game, holding their opponents to an average of 92 points per game.  They had a record of 72-10 that year and won the NBA Finals Championship.  To this day, it still stands as the best record of any TEAM in the history of the NBA.  They proceeded to win it all each of the next two years in ’97 and ’98.

Michael was the best player…but the Chicago Bulls won their six championships because of their ability to play as a team.  They had a great state of UNION.  I used to watch and re-watch games, Sports Center, and NBA Specials over and over again.   

I remember a clip of Michael in the huddle at a time out, encouraging his teammates, “come on…we’re alright…everybody get together…”  #Union
Remember Game 5 of the NBA Playoffs in ’97?  It became known as “The Flu Game”.  Michael had the flu and was extremely ill during the game.  He had no energy and was at the brink of exhaustion, but Scottie literally, physically held him up, kept encouraging him. 

We all watched what greatness is all about, as MJ was MJ and dropped 38 points, as the Bulls won the game and eventually would win their fifth title.   

It was the other guys on the team that kept Michael from quitting.  They helped each other, and together they won a championship ring.

Even in his finest moments and in his most amazing individual performances, Michael Jordan understood the importance of a strong union among the team.  He even appreciated the magnitude and significance of doing what he did where he did it, in the greatest sports city in this great nation, Chicago, IL. 

As great as he was, individually, his awareness and appreciation of the bigger picture was evident in his comments to over 300,000 people at the Bulls Championship rally in Chicago’s Grant Park in June of 1998. 

The Bulls had just won their sixth NBA title, and Michael said: 

Nobody knows if we're going to be in Grant Park next year. But the one thing I do know is my heart, my soul and my love has always gone to the city of Chicago. And no matter what happens, my heart, my soul and my love will still be in the city of Chicago."

Dennis Rodman’s comment, at the same rally, summed up that team’s strong state of their union:

I've always told myself I would never get married again. I would never have another wife," Rodman said. "But if I had to marry anybody, it'd be these 12 guys right here."

I love the United States of America, the greatest union in the world.  I love basketball, and I loved the Chicago Bulls. 

And I just love it when we all join together…a true state of 'union'.

Have a great day.


Two for the road...

February 17th is MJ's birthday..

On behalf of basketball fans, players - past, present, and future - coaches, and leaders all over the world, HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY TO MICHAEL JEFFREY JORDAN.

Thanks for the memories... 

Also earlier this week, the Kentucky Wildcats were dealt a tough blow, as Nerlens Noel suffered a season-ending injury, tearing his ACL in a game at SEC rival, University of Florida.

It was so tough to watch, as a KY Wildcats fan and as a fellow TORN ACL / RECONSTRUCTIVE KNEE SURGERY (times two) ALUM.  

What was beautiful to watch was the scene that unfolded just after the injury took place and just before play resumed, at the eight-minute mark in the second half.  

The Cats were making a bit of a run, coming back, cutting into Florida's lead, in front of a sell out crowd - 12,000 rowdy reptile Gator fans - at the unfriendly confines of the O'Connell Center at UF.  

All of a sudden the game itself seemed to become secondary, to the Kentucky players.  Five guys gathered around Nerlens, literally picked him up, and carried him off the court...all the way into the tunnel.  

Each of them giving their injured teammate and eventual top five pick in the NBA Draft, a hug and words of encouragement before heading back onto the court to finish the game.

Pretty strong sate of 'union', for a group of 18, 19, and 20-year old young men...that was a beautiful site.  

Big Blue Nation is still behind our Wildcats 100%, as we lace 'em up again Saturday, on the road at Tennessee.  We'll be rooting for them, and win or lose, this Wildcat Team will play count on that.  

And we'll probably win it all...again.

Go Cats!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

That person...

That person…
Maybe we have…maybe we have never met that person. 

Consider with me for a second; that coach, teacher, leader, parent, friend, coworker, or family member…you know, that person in our life that is:

Encouraging, and our biggest cheerleader no matter what…

Accepting of our weirdness because they see it as unique and special

Rooting for us even when others root against us…

Forgiving every single time we mess up and fall short…

Friends with everyone, not because they have to but because they want to

Inspiring with their unconditional love and compassion to everyone they meet…

I think about that person in my own life – some former coaches, some former teachers, my friends, my aunts & uncles, my grandparents, my parents, and my sister – at one point or another, they’ve all taken their turn as that person.  They’ve made me feel good about life.

Then I wonder…have I ever been that person to someone else? 

When I’m struggling or feeling down, I wonder how I can get fired up and make things exciting again…fun again…fulfilling again. Don’t you?  Who wants to stay down, frustrated, and worried? Nobody.

Who needs encouragement, acceptance, forgiveness, friends, & inspiration?  We all do. 

When we take the focus off of the person in the mirror and actively pursue opportunities to be that person to someone else, it’s amazing what happens.  It’s like magic.   

All of a sudden, in our pursuit to be that person for others, we’re the ones that feel encouraged, accepted, forgiven, inspired, and before we know it, we can’t keep up with all of our friends…because we have so many.

I have good news.  We all have that person in our lives.  We even have the blueprint, the playbook, and the answers to the test on how we can be just like Him. 

Jesus is that person.  And the playbook is the Bible.

So if you haven’t run into that person in a while, or if you haven’t felt the magic…just say hello.  He’s there.  He’s here.  And He’s in love with us, all of us.  No really, like…ALL of humanity.  That’s you…and that’s me. 

The best part:

All the good that person brings us, and all the good you and I can be for others…it’s all free.  It doesn’t cost a thing.  True story.  Though we don’t deserve it, we’re blessed with it.  Loving people “in spite of” and “anyway” as opposed to “because of” is the essence of grace.

That’s who Jesus is.  He is so that person…and you and I can be that person to the people in our lives when we focus on Him, loving Him, and simply being more like Jesus is.

One for the road…a quick book review

Judah Smith, lead pastor at The City Church in Kirkland, WA is one of the most dynamic, engaging pastors I’ve ever had the fortune of experiencing live or even online.  

I enjoy watching his sermons online, via their church’s website,  He’s funny. He’s relatable (because he’s my age), he’s passionate, and he has a unique ability to illustrate what the Bible says.  His style resonates with everyday people like you and me.

Judah’s new book, Jesus is_______. Find a New Way to Be Human launches at the end of the month, and it’s already available for pre-order.  I recently signed up to help Judah and his team spread the word about the book. I’ve already read it, cover to cover. 

Two pages into the book, during the Forward, written by pro golfer and 2012 Masters Champion, Bubba Watson, I had already laughed and cried.   

Judah goes on, in the book, sharing stories and illustrations – from his high school days to his journey at The City Church; from the gospels of Matthew and Mark to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson; from referencing “the deep intellectual thinker, Weird Al Yankovic” to quoting “theologians”, Jeff Foxworthy, George Burns, and Jerry Seinfeld.  Yet he frames it all beautifully, showing us, teaching us, entertaining us, and inspiring us with who Jesus really is.

You may ask yourself what kind of author can pull off that kind of range in story telling…and you also may be wondering who could be such an awe-inspiring topic for this type of book.  Judah can.  And Jesus is.

I highly recommend the book.  You’ll be left with not only a new understanding, but also a new inspiration for how to live the rest of your life.  It really is, as Judah’s subtitle to the book suggests, “a new way to be human.”

Have a great day.


Related Posts:
Moving Day
Good People
Walk -
Inspired by Judah Smith's "Seven Mile Walk" message
Start Fresh

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Emotions?!? a Casino? (Be Different. It Matters)

Emotions?!?…in a Casino?
(Be Different. It Matters.)
When most people think about casinos in Las Vegas, the usual thoughts come to mind – money, sex, greed, partying, gambling, and entertainment. 
One can then assume the corresponding emotions tied to these thoughts – some negative, some positive depending on the context or situation.
At The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, we’re different.  We have a slightly different approach to hospitality, a fresh take on luxury, and the emotions in our casino are no exception.  They’re different as well.
As part of one of our group/meetings clients', convention experience, we recently hosted 81 Wounded War Veterans.  Hundreds of CoStars (staff) and their families showed up to show their love and appreciation for those who sacrificed so much for our country.  United States armed forces veterans of all ages were recognized, welcomed, and honored on a beautiful Las Vegas Sunday afternoon, in our beautiful Las Vegas resort.
One of the veterans, 88 year-old - Mr. George Handy, a World War II veteran of the 668th Topographic Engineering Battalion, is the father of one of our Cashier Cage CoStars, Mrs. Bonnie Lloyd.  Bonnie was asked to participate in the clap line, but she didn’t want to do so without her Dad.
Mr. Handy woke up that Sunday morning expecting to simply accompany his daughter to her place of employment, to honor some fellow veterans.  Once he arrived on property, he was not only included in the luncheon held for the wounded war veterans but he became one of the honorees himself! 
A Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Security Officer, Valarina Figueredo, assisted Mr. Handy through the clap line, as they paraded alongside the other 81 Wounded War Veterans.  Hundreds of folks clapped, cheered, and showed their appreciation for the service these men and women devoted to our country. 
Balloons, signs, noise makers, and hundreds of mini-American flags were displayed and waived in appreciation, as ROTC Troops and bag pipers led these truly heroic individuals from their luncheon, down a long hallway lined with folks cheering and clapping with all of their heart (most of us smiling while many others shed tears of joy and gratitude), to their event which took place later that evening at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ Boulevard Pool.
George Handy is 88 years old.  He joined the army when he was 18 years old.  He not only fought in World War II to save, protect, and defend the lives of people he didn’t even know, but he also fought his own war against cancer…twice.  He won both times, defeating lung cancer first, then prostate cancer the second time around.
Bonnie told me that in talking to her Dad about that special day at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, he told her “with the exception of marrying your mom, that was the best thing that has happened to me in my entire life.
My parents were actually in town that weekend as well.  They joined us, to honor these special veterans in the clap line…and they said that was the best day of their stay in Las Vegas.  (Both of their parents served in the military, so this was very cool for all of us.) 
As we were pulling out of The Cosmopolitan, my mom said, “Who would have ever thought you could have that much emotion in a casino?”
I proudly replied, “…we did…”
We’re different, at The Cosmopolitan…and so are the emotions people feel when they visit us.

Be matters.
Have a great day.